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What Is an Argyle Sweater?

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  • Written By: Mandi R. Hall
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  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2014
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An argyle sweater is a shirt that showcases the argyle pattern. It generally has a square or rectangular box on the front, which showcases an even-length pattern of diagonal checkers. This pattern is called the argyle design. The argyle design has fluctuated in popularity for centuries, though it is generally dubbed a classic garment.

The word argyle is an alternate spelling of the word Argyll, which is a region of Scotland. Scotland is the first region where inhabitants wore the argyle design, so the name of the pattern bears its name. The argyle design was first introduced in the 16th or 17th century. It was worn by members of the Scottish military, primarily on their feet and legs. In modern times, both argyle socks and argyle sweaters remain staples of a classic or preppy wardrobe.

The argyle design became fashionable throughout the rest of Europe — primarily England — after the first world war. Sweaters soon featured the design. Though the argyle sweater hasn't quite gone out of style since the first half of the 20th century, it did see popularity resurgences in the 1950s and 1980s. Near the end of the 1990s, it was assumed by fashion gurus that argyle was here to stay.

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The argyle sweater comes in many forms. The first ones were knitted of wool, though they are now also woven with cotton or a mixture of synthetic fibers. The first versions were quite thick. They were paired with collared shirts, to avoid itching, and worn by men.

Women soon began wearing the same type of sweater, and the most common sweater materials began to change. A woman could wear a lighter, breezier argyle sweater without an undershirt. As the sweaters became thinner, they could be tucked in. Like most sweaters, however, the argyle sweater is typically kept untucked, so as not to disrupt its distinctive design.

This sweater may be pulled over the head, or zipped, or buttoned up front. These types of sweaters with fastenings in front are generally referred to as argyle cardigans. The argyle sweater vest, which is essentially a sleeveless argyle sweater, also is popular.

The argyle design resembles a checkerboard set at a diagonal. The diamonds are all equal in length, and solid or dotted lines run through the center of each row. The sweater may be any combination of colors.

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sunnySkys
Post 3

I think men's argyle sweaters look awesome, especially when they're made with a dark colored background and brighter colors for the argyle pattern.

I definitely have a weakness for a man in an argyle sweater! Especially paired with nice pants and some horn-rimmed glasses. I think it makes them look smart and studious somehow.

I hope these sweaters never go out of style, and somehow I doubt they will. It seems like the argyle sweater has been going strong since the 17th century with no signs of stopping.

strawCake
Post 2

@KaBoom - That pink sweater does sound cute. However, I have to admit I'm not a fan of the argyle sweater. I don't know what it is, but I just can't bring myself to wear a ladies argyle sweater.

That doesn't mean I never wear argyle though! I love argyle socks. I have argyle knee socks in tons of different colors: pink, black, red, you name it! I usually buy a few new pairs every winter, because some of them inevitably wear out.

Of course, I always wear them under boots or pants, so no one else but me knows I'm wearing them. But I think they're lots of fun!

KaBoom
Post 1

I love argyle sweaters! They really are a classic. However, a lot of manufacturers have updated the argyle style. These sweaters don't just come in traditional muted colors anymore!

In fact, my favorite sweater is definitely my pink argyle sweater. The main color on the sweater is pink, and the argyle pattern is made with white and purple.

I love the way it looks-cute and modern, and definitely not too stuffy! Plus it's thin enough I can just wear it by itself and not get too warm.

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