Wednesday, May 11, 2011


A reader asked "when did they first design paisley"?

Contrary to urban legend, it did not originate in the 60's with the famous Fender Telecaster, hippies, or more to my personal liking Emilio Pucci, still to this day sending paisley frocks down the runway.

Spring 2011 from Elle magazine
With apologies to all the historians, fashion mavens and textile scholars, here's the short "snack" version of the history of paisley:

The term "paisley" stems from the Town of Paisely, formerly a weaving center in Scotland, not far from Glasgow.

The Paisley town hall
Sometime in the 1700's, arriving in England from far off Kashmir India, are lovely shawls with a distinctive design. Instantly a big hit, these beautiful, exotic shawls were the ultimate must have accessory. But like anything exotic, beautiful, fashionable and in short supply, they were very expensive.

Hardly any time passes before English weavers make hand-woven knock-offs. By 1823ish thanks to the Jacquard loom, weavers in the town of Paisley do it so well and inexpensively they eventually dominate the shawl market for decades to come.

The shawl market?

Yes, there was one. Big skirts, big sleeves and pleasing necklines were de riguer for decades. Overcoats positively ruin the lines of this style of dress. A shawl is required.

If it is cold outside, an overcoat will simply ruin the lines of these dresses. Emily Blunt as The Young Victoria.

From the Victoria and Albert Museum.

An 1845 paisley dress and shawl from the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

By 1860 millions of shawls woven in Paisley Scotland were sold. The distinctive design has by this time achieved icon status and is foreverafter referred to as "paisley".

All my bright readers have by now noticed that I haven't answered the "when" question. I'll save that for Paisley, Part Two.

Thanks for reading,
Linda Pakravan

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This was an unsponsored post.


  1. Can you show us more paisley? I can't get enough. If it weren't for the ruffles on that blue dress, I would love it. Well I do love it. Just the ruffles are so not me, baby...

  2. Great article, and nice image of the town hall lol.. I was doing some searching for the town Hall and found this.. I do the local website and we have a page of information on the town hall here


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