What Are Stripes?
A stripe is basically a line. More often than not, it differs in color from its background, though it’s entirely possible for men’s clothing to utilize “self-colored” stripes, which are stripes that are the same color as their background.
Stripes are the most common pattern found in men’s professional attire. As is mentioned in our guide to the business professional dress code, striped suits are typically one of the only patterns deemed acceptable for such a dress code. The patten inherently draws people attention towards it, so if you want to command a room, a striped suit is a great way to do it.
Stripes can be of any width or thickness, and the spacing between them can range from infinitesimally small to quite broad. Furthermore, there are theoretically no limitations on the colors of the stripes or the background on which they reside. They are typically set vertically, but are sometimes set an an angle or horizontally, depending on the garment.
Lastly, stripes do not Conor McGregorneed to be continuous lines. They may be broken up in such a way that produces a striped look from a distance, but actually appear to be a series of thousands of tiny dots. achieved more notoriety than normal when he appeared to a weigh-in with Floyd Mayweather wearing a suit with “stripes” created by repeating a phrase of questionable taste.
History Of The Pattern
Stripes have been a pattern used in men’s clothing for hundreds of years, with the first striped garment appearing in Medieval times. Initially, the pattern had negative, “evil” connotations and was only worn by the likes of prisoners, commercial sex workers, criminals, and other such people.
By the end of the nineteenth century, though, Queen Victoria of England had created a new association with stripes: all things nautical. This happened as a result of dressing her son in a sailor suit for a Royal Yacht event, and navy and white stripes soon became associated with words like “marine” and “sea.” Swimmers began wearing blue-and-white striped bathing suits, and the pattern became ubiquitous in the coming years.
Nowadays, stripes are seen on nearly every garment imaginable. Not just suits, but socks, shirts, ties, pocket squares, and just about anything else.
Different Types Of Stripe Patterns
There are a variety of different stripe styles. In the following section, we’ll explore the three most popular varieties that you’ll come across.
When men think of stripes, one of the first things we think about are pinstriped suits. Often found on the backs of Wall Street traders and others in the financial sector, pinstripes are so named because the stripes are relatively thin, and the spacing between them rarely exceeds 5/8″.
Note: the prefix “pin” in menswear means “small,” therefore “pinstripe” means “small or thin stripes.”
Rope stripes are so named because the stripe itself is thicker and resembles the texture of a rope. As these stripes tend to be bolder, they’re best reserved for men who are higher up on the professional food chain or for guys who are looking to make an imposing impression on an audience.
As the stripes themselves are thicker, the spacing between them is often greater than we see with pinstripes.
Most often found on nubby, flannel wools, chalk stripes are so named because they appear to have been drawn onto their fabric with tailor’s chalk. Chalk stripes are typically thicker than pinstripes but aren’t necessarily as thick as rope stripes. As such, the spacing between them varies greatly.
Repp / Regimental Stripes
American repp stripe tie
Moving away from suits, we go to repp stripes. Repp stripes are reserved for neckties and refer to differently-colored stripes set at a 45-degree angle. Originating in Britain, they were used to denote membership in various military regiments (hence the term “regimental stripes”), which soldiers continued to wear in their civilian lives after completion of service. The prototypical model has the stripes going downward from left to right, syncing with the left-over-right closure of a men’s tailored jacket.
The American version, popularized by none other than Brooks Brothers, features the stripes going downward in the opposite direction, from right to left. This was done so as to not step on the toes of British regimental stripes, so to speak. Nowadays, both styles can be found and purchased easily.
If you’d like to know more about ties in general, our necktie guide is a fantastic resource.
How To Wear Stripes
Stripes are found everywhere, across all styles and dress codes, and across genders. Below are a few different ways that men can wear stripes to great effect.
A striped suit is the sina qua non of patterned suiting for men. It is the only patterned suit found in the classic capsule wardrobe, and it’s one of the only patterns considered acceptable for standard business wear.
Whether a simple pinstripe in a single-breasted version or a bold rope stripe on a 6×2 double-breasted model, the striped suit is undoubtedly part of the permanent style canon.
We’ve gathered a variety of the best striped suits that you can buy online at the end of this guide.
Odd Jackets, Trousers, & Waistcoats
Odd garments such as trousers, vests, and jackets are all available with stripes as their pattern. Striped pants are typical of the business casual dress code, and a striped vest with a solid suit is a very handsome pairing. Furthermore, a pinstriped odd jacket can be paired with solid trousers, and the original rowing blazers were some of the most boldly striped garments one could ever find.
For more information on odd jackets and sport coats, see our jacket guide.
Striped shirts are handsome, versatile, widely accepted across any dress code, and ubiquitous. Some different versions you may find are:
- Pencil Stripe: The shirt version of a pinstripe, these are very thin stripes that appear to have been drawn by the sharp point of a pencil. Very dressy.
- Bengal Stripe: Bengal stripes are bolder in color and thickness than pencil stripes, often clocking in at 1/8″ wide. Appropriate for most business settings.
- Candy Stripe: Candy stripes are thick, bold, and colorful. Reminiscent of candy canes, they’re quite casual.
Can I Wear A Horizontal Striped Shirt?
Short answer: if you’re tall, then yes.
Think about every shirt you own, or even that you’ve seen while shopping. Chances are, you immediately pictured vertical stripes. Though vertical stripes form the overwhelming majority of striped shirts, there are some that utilize horizontal stripes as well. The questions are: how do you find them, and should you wear them?
First things first: you will likely have to patronize a custom clothier to get a horizontally striped shirt as they are rarely found off the rack. You’ll want to clearly communicate to your tailor that you want a shirt with horizontal stripes, as the default would be to make them vertical and there’s nothing on a swatch of fabric that would indicate otherwise. Also, be prepared to pay an upcharge, as straying from the default means that the shirt makers have to adjust their normal process to accommodate your request, eating up more of their time.
As far as whether or not you should wear them, well, that depends on your body type. Specifically, tall men can wear horizontal stripes well. This is because horizontal stripes draw the eye from side-to-side, which helps to offset the tall man’s height. This is particularly helpful if he’s tall and thin, as the side-to-side optics of these stripes will help fill him out.
Short or heavyset men should avoid horizontally striped shirts, as it makes the former look shorter and the latter look heavier.
If you aren’t sure of your body type and need help determining it, take a quick look at our body type guide.
What To Wear With A Striped Shirt
Because they’re so popular, it’s worth taking a moment to discuss things to wear with striped shirts.
Generally, stripes play well with other stripes, so long as those stripes are of different scales. This means, for example, a shirt with thin, tightly spaced stripes against a jacket, trousers, and / or tie with thick, widely spaced stripes.
Stripes also tend to play very nicely with dots, so next time you’re feeling confident, throw on a dotted tie with your striped shirt.
Stripes are the most popular pattern for ties. As we mentioned above, stripes are typically set at 45-degree angles in either direction. Ties with horizontal stripes are also available (and are more popular than their shirt counterparts), but are typically found on knit ties with flat bottoms.
Classic Stripe Color Combinations
Being one of the more versatile patterns, stripes are available in just about any color and color combination you can think of. It tailored menswear, we most often see white and off-white stripes on navy, grey, black, and brown backgrounds.
It is wise to avoid stripes in neon-like colors, such as electric blue, which is sadly common. These colors come off as more mafioso than menswear enthusiast.
Best Body Types For Stripes
This section will deal with body types that work best with the classic vertical stripes. Ties with stripes set at 45-degree angles work for anyone, and horizontal stripes were addressed above.
Short men benefit greatly from stripes. Though wearing stripes won’t necessarily make you look taller, they will make you appear less short. Short, thin men look best in tightly spaced pinstripes, whereas heavier guys who are short can wear more widely spaced stripes if they so choose, which will help fill out their frame.
Heavyset men are also greatly helped by wearing stripes. While they may or may not need the illusion of height, they do need the illusion of slimness. Vertical lines off just that illusion.
As with height, stripes won’t make you appear thin, but they will draw minimal attention to your weight.
Best Striped Suits To Buy Online
As we said earlier, we’ll cover an assortment of our favourite made-to-measure striped suits to buy online. They are listed in no particular order of preference and offer an insight into each style of stripe.
- Black Lapel Savoy Navy Chalk Stripe Flannel Suit
- Indochino Reigate Stripe Plum Suit
- Black Lapel Midnight Navy Pinstripe Suit
- Indochino Indigo Tonal Pinstripe Suit
- Indochino Cardiff Chalk Stripe Suit
You can use the menu above to jump ahead or scroll down to discover them all.