I spent a good chunk of my adolescence living in Paducah, Kentucky. For the uninitiated—which, I feel confident in assuming, includes just about everyone reading this story—Paducah is known for one thing, and one thing only: quilts. There are, based on a quick Google search, at least six quilt-specific stores servicing a population of just 25,000. Twice a year, the city plays host to “QuiltWeek,” a gathering of over 400 vendors and thousands of patchwork enthusiasts from across the globe. And, of course, there’s Paducah’s glittering main attraction: the National Quilt Museum.
And so, as a budding contrarian, you know what I really hated growing up? Quilts. Never understood ‘em. Especially not in clothing form, when all the preppy kids at my high school would match their Ralph Lauren patchwork madras shorts to their boat shoes. Yuck.
Time heals all wounds, though, and now that patchwork quilting is threatening to take over high fashion—featuring prominently in Raf Simons’ debut collection for Calvin Klein last fall, for one—I’m finally beginning to understand what all my Kentuckian neighbours saw in the stuff.
Done right, patchwork can add a bold and unexpected flair to an ordinary garment, and completely elevate an otherwise clean and classic look. Here are eight pieces to consider adding to your wardrobe right now.