I must admit. I was thoroughly confused about this. What is a zig zag vs chevron vs herringbone. I knew there was a difference. My eye caught it. I just couldn't make out what it was in specific that made each of these patterns unique. Now that chevron is still in and going strong, I'm seeing zig zags popping up everywhere. Though, ironically enough, I haven't been seeing an awful lot of herringbone. Hence, my quest to demystify the tangle this was causing in my mind.
Here's what I found (and it wasn't too hard to find out, really... just some time stolen while dinner was in the oven and the kids were playing Uno):
The simplest of them all... It's the fundamental look of all three. The zig zag is solid colored, flowing stripes that peak on reverse sides of the line of symmetry (the long one...).
A variation to the zig zag, chevron is also made of flowing stripes that peak on opposite sides of the line of symmetry. However (you did know that was coming... :)), it is not made of solid stripes. Each segment from one peak to the next (on the perpendicular side lines of symmetry) mark the beginning and end of each color segment. This is normally done in a pattern so as to create a pleasing look.
While the herringbone is also similar to the zig zag (it also has the flowing stripes that peak on the opposite sides of the line of symmetry). But, whereas the chevron's color segments begin on the peaks of the zig zag, the herringbone's color segments are all rectangular. Each segment is rectangular with right angles on all four corners. In the herringbone, the segments from peak to peak have 2 colors included (the main one and a bit from the previous or next one). This pattern is commonly used in wood flooring.
I'm not sure if this really helps anyone but me, but it certainly clarified it in my mind. So it was definitely worth it. So now that I know the differences between the zig zag vs chevron vs herringbone I figured I can actually search for products using the correct terms. Low, and behold! It turns out that I am one of the very few people that really care what exactly the pattern is called. Most products that are labeled chevron, and some labeled herringbone are really zig zags! I guess the laugh's on me. Good thing I can take a joke.
What other patterns do/did you need to differentiate to really get what the differences were?