A wardrobe full of plain colours is a bit of a hard sell. At some stage, you’ll need an upgrade and stripes should be at the top of the list. They’ve been a staple since before most of the D’Marge staff were born and we can’t see this changing (ever).
But although stripes might be timeless, but there’s still a right and wrong way to go about it. Here, we give you the rundown on stripes with the good and the bad, and will leave you a gallery for inspiration on how to incorporate them into your outfit for the modern day.
The Low Down On Stripes
Stripes should be a staple of every guy’s wardrobe. But that’s not to say that you’ll get the same mileage out of them as your mates might. There’s two very simple things to keep in mind, which help you guide your choices on which style is right for you and your rig.
Vertical stripes are great for you shortarses out there. The unbroken lines can to add a few illusory notches on the tape measurer. It won’t change the fact that you’re not six three, but it’s something.
Horizontal stripes are a different story. These emphasise width – in other words they make you broader, or fatter, depending on your existing body dimensions. If you’ve got a couple of extra kegs you want to hide from the missus, think about vertical stripes over horizontal ones.
Next up, we look at a few different ways to wear stripes, touching on the range of dress-codes a guy can come up against during the week.
The Gordon Gekko
When most of us think of stripes, we think Wall Street power suiting. And with good reason: it’s a strong look that cultivates a lasting impression if you pull it off right. Despite the fact that no one really likes bankers or lawyers, we can’t fault the way that they dress and where they put stripes in the menswear market.
Power suiting generally calls for a combination of stripes, but keep them to different sizes in width, and complementary colourways. Do a trial run at home before committing to the triple threat ahead of a big meeting.
Start off with soft pin stripes, especially in a conservative office. If the old, fat blokes in corner offices wear chalk stripe, it probably means you can’t (yet). Regimental or club striped ties are a little stuffy. Look for striped ties that don’t resemble something from an old-fart British rowing club, and you’ll be set.
Stripes (For The Not So Bold)
While it’s good to break out the American Psycho look once every so often and ball out like you’re an 80’s stockbroker high on Reaganism and trickle-down economics, it’s a reality that not every office is receptive to power suiting. You might need to tone it down a little, so here’s how to tastefully incorporate stripes and channel your inner investment banker douche more discreetly.
The gold standard of pattern combinations in the workplace is as follows: One for understatement, two if you’re feeling a bit brave, three if you’re reckless and far too invested in whatever sprezzatura means.
Thicker stripes are harder to pair with other patterns. A bengal stripe shirt should go under a plain suit and accompany a plain tie; leave the windowpane checks and spotted ties at home.
On the other end of the spectrum, a lot of guys navigate the eternally-undefined terrain of ‘smart casual’ with stripes. Stripes can work their way onto seersucker blazers, casual shirting, and semiformal trousers so you’re not confined to suits that only guys that live in New York are allowed to wear.
To keep it simple, you could wear a striped tee underneath a plain blazer, or mix it up and wear mismatched pinstripe trousers with a shirt and cardigan in winter. Here, stripes should add a small point of difference and not overwhelm your look with too much going on.
Mixing vertical and horizontal stripes has never looked good. Remember the golden rule of mismatching pattern sizes if you want to play that game.
If you wear a striped blazer, keep your tie and shirt fairly plain to let the jacket do its thing. Don’t overcrowd yourself with too many patterns.
Avoid unusual colours with stripes. Anything outside the conservative triumvirtate of white, grey, and blue kinda reminds us of vintage chocolate wrappers or prison outfits.
With their nautical connotations, it’s not a huge surprise that stripes factor into casualwear come summertime. Stripes remind us of the sun, the beach, and not giving too much of a f**k about anything. That said, there’s still a few basic rules to consider when you’re dressing up (or down) for your lazy afternoon on a deckchair.
Stripes give off nautical vibes, so try to avoid other nautical symbols like anchor prints if you want to be taken seriously at the resort karaoke bar.
You can have a party on one side of your outfit, not both. Don’t combine stripes with another pattern. When in doubt, wear lots of plain white and navy.