Harlequin and argyle are two bold and striking patterns that have been popular for centuries. These geometric designs are eye-catching and add flair to any decor. Let’s take a closer look at the history, characteristics, and uses of these fun and funky patterns.

A Brief History of Harlequin and Argyle Patterns


The harlequin pattern has its origins in the costumes of Italian comedians called Harlequins back in the 16th century. The costumes were a patchwork of multicolored diamond shapes. The pattern eventually made its way onto porcelain and then onto fabric.

Harlequin patterns experienced a surge in popularity in the 1920s. The bold diamond shapes lent themselves well to the sleek lines of Art Deco style. Harlequin designs continue to go in and out of fashion while maintaining their playful and punchy aesthetic.


The argyle pattern finds its roots in the tartan patterns of Scottish clans in the early 1800s. The intersecting diamond shapes mimicked the look of a woven textile.

Argyle motifs reached widespread popularity after the Prince of Wales wore golfing pants with an argyle pattern in the 1920s. The association with refined British sportswear lent an air of sophistication to the argyle look.

This heritage makes argyle patterns ideal for preppy styles today. An argyle print adds a classic yet whimsical feel.

Characteristics of Harlequin and Argyle


  • Diamond shaped patches usually form the harlequin pattern
  • Patches feature at least 3 contrasting colors, often primary or secondary colors
  • The arrangements of the patches can vary, creating movement and rhythm
  • Harlequin patterns often have a playful, festive, and energetic mood


  • Made up of intersecting diagonal lines that form diamond motifs
  • Traditionally uses 2-4 colors, often in earth tones like blue, brown, cream
  • The symmetrical intersections create an orderly, structured look
  • Diamonds are outlined in a contrasting color for definition
  • Often associated with classic and preppy fashion

Uses of Harlequin and Argyle Patterns

Harlequin and argyle patterns have made their way onto all types of clothing, accessories, and home goods. Here are some of the most popular uses for these eye-catching prints:


  • Sweaters and knitwear
  • Socks and tights
  • Neckties and bow ties
  • Skirts and dresses
  • Sports uniforms

Home Decor

  • Throw pillows and blankets
  • Wallpaper and wall decals
  • Area rugs and floor tiles
  • Shower curtains
  • Upholstered furniture


  • Jewelry and headbands
  • Luggage and bags
  • Scarves
  • Phone cases

How to Use Harlequin and Argyle Patterns

When using harlequin or argyle prints in home decor or fashion, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use sparingly – these bold patterns work best when paired with solid colors and textures.
  • Play with scale – mix large and small scale harlequin or argyle prints for interest.
  • Coordinate colors – choose one color from the print to pick up in other parts of the outfit or room.
  • Contrast styles – pair whimsical harlequin with sleek modern decor or preppy argyle with edgy accessories.
  • Accessorize – add harlequin or argyle patterned scarves, jewelry, pillows or tech accessories as a fun accent.

Harlequin and argyle patterns add eye-catching style with their geometric shapes and intersecting lines. Whether preppy or playful, classic or contemporary, these striking motifs infuse fashion and decor with bold spirit!

FAQs About Harlequin and Argyle Patterns

What’s the difference between harlequin and argyle patterns?

The main difference is that harlequin features diamond patches in contrasting colors, while argyle is made up of intersecting diagonal lines that form diamonds. Harlequin often has a playful, energetic mood while argyle leans traditional and classic.

Where did these patterns originate?

The harlequin pattern has its roots in colorful medieval theatrical costumes. Argyle originated from tartan patterns worn by Scottish clans. Both were eventually adapted as textile designs.

How can I incorporate these prints into my home?

Use harlequin or argyle prints sparingly on statement pieces like throw pillows, area rugs, wall decals, shower curtains or upholstered chairs. Coordinate one color from the print throughout the room.

What clothing items work well with these patterns?

Some of the most popular uses are on sweaters, socks, ties, dresses, sports uniforms, jewelry, scarves and headbands. Choose pieces that coordinate with the rest of your outfit.

Can I mix different colored harlequin patterns together?

Yes, mixing multiple harlequin patterns in coordinating color palettes creates an eye-catching, bold effect. Contrast different scale diamonds for interest.

How do I keep argyle looking sophisticated and not too busy?

Stick to 2-4 muted, complementary colors like navy, grey, cream and avoid overly intricate argyle patterns. Pair with solid colors and sleek silhouettes for a refined argyle look.


Harlequin and argyle patterns are timeless prints that continually reinvent themselves in fashion and interior design. The boisterous harlequin motif brings whimsical fun while classic argyle lends a refined, preppy mood. These iconic geometrics provide countless ways to add a bold touch of style and sophistication. Whether dressing up a wall, an outfit or an accessory, harlequin and argyle patterns are sure to dazzle and delight for decades to come.