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Notions with KESTAN: Herringbone

Notions are all the little parts of a garment - buttons, thread, zippers, etc. Notions with KESTAN is a series where our designer shares her notions and knowledge on different fashion terms. See what we did there?

I'm one of those insufferable individuals who uses the phrase "oldie but a goodie" in all seriousness during conversation. So when trying to sum up my feelings regarding herringbone, it's really no surprise that's where my head jumped to first. 

You'll have to go back in time and start with Rome. We're talking past tossing coins into the Trevi fountain and straight to times of limited plumbing and actually using Latin.

Herringbone's great, great, great (and so on and so forth) grandmother can be found in how the Roman Empire paved their roads. Once called Opus Spicatum (bless you), it means "spiked work". Inspired by the pattern of herring fish bones (see what they did there?), this alternating pattern was the basis for how roads, floors, even roofs were laid. 

Eventually, the distinct design made its way into fabrics, and the pattern can be historically found in far flung places such as Ireland and Egypt. As history passed, as it tends to do, herringbone actually became lost to time for a while before resurfacing during the European Renaissance.

So what is Herringbone? Technically it's an alternating twill weave. While twill is woven in a continual diagonal direction, herringbone periodically reverses the diagonal to create a chevron-like pattern.

While typically found in men's winter suiting and outerwear, I love utilizing herringbone in womenswear. The traditional fabric is a fine bridge to craft modern pieces that stand the test of time.

Look for herringbone in a lighter hue and thinner weave for a more feminine touch. Or, choose a wider and thicker weave for a bold and eye-catching option. This season, we leaned into the monochromatic look by pairing bottoms and outerwear for a standout look when worn together. If subtlety is your cup of tea, then choose a singular piece to pair with solid prints and textures.

The great thing about modern design is that this fantastic weave is on longer tied to blazers or wool coats. Pick up herringbone in dresses, fun bottoms, or even a moto jacket. It makes for a great classic without losing flair.

(Jacket: Hamilton | Pants: Highpoint | Skirt: Graham | Check out more herringbone options here.)

About the Author

Stephanie is the co-founder and designer of KESTAN. When she's not busy running the business alongside her brother, you can find her generally hiding from civilization behind a good book or bowl of ice cream. Either works. She's not a particularly picky woman.


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