Iron on patches are more or less the staple item of teenage, and post-teenage, fashion trends. They can serve basically any purpose you can imagine, from adding a little preppy spice to a new school bag, through expressing your commitment to a favourite band, to making serious and heavy political or ideological statements in a way that will spare your surroundings from fluttering banners and shouting announcements.
These little things have gone from being a purely practical element, meant to quickly fix up a torn piece of clothing and save some money on buying a new one, to becoming entirely unnecessary as a repair tool but essential as a fashion statement. Read this awesome article for a comprehensive look at the very interesting history of iron on patches in fashion and global culture.
But what about modern day? When you see so many young (and not so young!) people patching their jackets and bags, you might feel a little discouraged to give it a try yourself. After all, how can you express your individuality if you are going to do it in the same way as everyone else, right? Wrong! We took a look at the patches trend and collected a little list of ways you can use them without looking like a rip-off. Keep reading and see if any of these tricks will suit your own style and sense of patchy fashion!
Patch your military jacket
This is one really obvious staple, but stick with us here. Patches can go on more kinds of coat types than just the regular denim jacket, and military-style clothes will never fall out of fashion. Clothing meant for, and inspired by, the army has had an enormous level of influence on the fashion world, and continues to.
To learn more about how that happened and why it is still relevant, take a look at this link: https://www.rebelsmarket.com/blog/posts/how-the-military-has-influenced-fashion
For those apparel enthusiasts that are looking for a more “tough guy (or girl)” look, embellishing a military item of clothing with a few carefully selected patches can achieve exactly the right balance between “seasoned warrior on the inside” and “civilian who knows what they are about”.
Go-to choices of patch design for military jackets are the flag of your country or your state, but also the coat of arms of your city, or even that of your school or university. Things like pirate-themed patches or sports teams’ logos are also popular options.
Don’t worry, be hippy
Clothing patches can be said to have become a fashion trend with the rise of the hippy counterculture in the sixties and seventies. Therefore, it is no small wonder that many patch fans today choose to emulate this style, or at least its chief iconic motifs.
However, it has sort of gone overboard in the recent years, with people applying iron on patches in the shapes of things such as ice cream cones, lollipops, emoji faces with expressions other than the “original basic smiley”, random planets, stars, snowflakes, and even aliens that look like they smoked something suspicious.
Therefore, if you like to rock the hippy style but you want to stand out a little from everyone else who had hoped onto the bandwagon in the meantime, try taking a “traditionalist” approach. Go back to the basics like rainbows and peace signs, and skip modernized additions. Dig up some old photos here and see what the real hippies actually wore in their time. Maybe you can even switch some overused motifs, e.g. the peace sign, with some of your own to refresh them. For example, find a nice dove or an olive tree branch for a little personal touch which will still maintain the same timeless message.
Ride the minimalist wave
In the twenty first century, people are more and more oriented towards simpler living and minimalist design in everything, from house layouts, through furniture choice and interior colours, to even their everyday outfit choices. If you would like to learn some more about the concept of minimalism as applied to human lifestyle, you can check out this helpful article.
Patches have not escaped this new direction either, and you can use this relatively new tendency to spice up your clothes and accessories by following the “less is more” principle. There are two key factors to consider here: the number of patches in one outfit combination, and the actual style of said patches.
To attain the minimalist look, you would usually not have more than a total of three or four patches in your entire outfit. This includes the jacket or coat, top, bottom, any tee shirt you may be wearing underneath (if the weather made you layer your clothes), but also your shoes (yes, patches can be iron onto those as well!), your bag or backpack, and accessories like wrist bands or belts. So choose the positioning of your patchy accents carefully!
As far as style is concerned, you need to look out for the motifs and the colour schemes. The motif can be whatever you want it to be, but it has to be realized in a simple way. This means clear, crisp lines, and often distinct contrast between segments, to make them easier to distinguish on the typically small patch surface. Things like tribal designs, simplified animal silhouettes, stars, sun rays, crescent moons, and initials in a block or narrow font are some of the staple choices here.
Colour schemes would heavily depend on the colour of your outfit. If you are following the minimalist philosophy, your hues must not clash with each other, so hippy standards like pink and red are a huge no. One easy way to navigate is to think in terms of shades. Choose one dominant colour for your outfit, and then make the patches that same colour, but slightly lighter or darker – or simply take the safe road and opt for the classically chic black-and-white.