Style & Shopping

This Old-School Pattern Is Trendy Again — Here’s What to Know About It

published Nov 9, 2023
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Bed with toile fabric headboard and slate blue wall behind
Credit: Van Tuyet

With TikTok-favorite aesthetics like cottagecore and coastal grandmother re-popularizing trends from previous eras, there’s one design element you’ve probably seen a lot of lately: toile. The vintage design, which has resurged in popularity, harkens back to earlier times while giving a classic, timeless feel to any room where it’s used. 

I never thought I’d come across any kind of design element that could turn a room — or a part of a room — into art, but in my eyes, toile does exactly that. The intricate illustrations typically depict bucolic scenes and nature-inspired graphics with light, bright colors (most often blue and white), creating a serene, calming effect with a touch of elegant whimsy. And that’s the case whether you introduce toile patterns in large swaths or smaller details.

Toile’s Origins

Toile, or its full name, toile de Jouy, actually used to refer to a kind of cotton fabric. In French toile means “cloth,” and de Jouy refers to the French town of Jouy-en-Josas, where the textile first became popularized in the 18th century.

However, since then, the name was colloquially shortened to just toile, and it came to refer to the rustic, pastoral patterns printed on the fabric, rather than the fabric itself.

How to Style Toile with Your College Decor

Because of its intricate patterns and old-timey feel, you might think it’s difficult to style toile, but it’s actually quite simple! As I mentioned, toile fits in well with aesthetics that embrace other design elements from bygone eras, like cottagecore (which celebrates the simplicity of rural life) and coastal grandma (which embraces cozy fabrics and elegant details). 

Even if you lean toward more modern aesthetics, you can still make toile work in your space. Pairing a toile pattern with complementary solid colors can create a layered, yet cohesive look. Or if you’re a maximalist, trying mixing patterns and contrasting colors to put your bold tastes on display.

Toile is commonly used as a pattern for wallpaper and bed linens, but if you want to start small, you can create subtle statements with antique (or just antique-looking) plates, vases, throw pillows, wall art, and other small decor pieces.

And no one said toile has to be traditional! Not only do toile patterns come in all kinds of colors now, but also, modern-day artists have adapted the principles of toile to depict scenes beyond flowers, sheep, and cute little family moments. If you’re feeling really ambitious (and are able to shell out the cash for it), you can even hire a designer to create a custom toile pattern to represent your school, hometown, or other interests. 

Just as toile is timeless, the possibilities for what you can do with it are limitless.

Nyjah Harris


Nyjah is a lover of sunsets, blueberry muffins, and shopping trips. If you can’t find her in the romance section of the bookstore, check your nearest Starbucks. Alongside writing and content creation, Nyjah is also a violinist who’s a little bit too obsessed with the composer Felix Mendelssohn.

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SchoolOld Dominion University '25
FavesStarbucks’ pink drink, romance novels, sunsets, orchestra
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