Blame it on movies from the 80’s, but pinstripe suits automatically conjure images of sharply dressed finance guys talking numbers or toasting each other over closing million dollar deals. During the hipster era, the pinstripe suit trend lay dormant, but it’s making a comeback.
Traditionally, pinstripes or bankers stripes came into style in the 19th century. They started out as banker uniforms, with each bank having their own stripe, shade and weight. Later they became the uniform of choice among gangsters, whose style was later copped by Hollywood stars. And this is how it gained its bad boy reputation.
So, what is it about the pinstripe suit that makes it appealing?
On a subconscious level, pinstripe suits symbolize money, status and power. It’s conservative, yet powerful and dynamic. It represents the alpha male. Even today, it’s favored by men who work in finance, and it means business.
From a design point of view, vertical stripes create visual interest. Plus, they give a slimming and lengthening effect to the wearer. Above all, they’re a classic, and therefore not reliant on trends to stay relevant.
When should you buy a pinstripe suit?
The rule is that your pinstripe suit should come in after you’ve purchased the basic suits, namely the ones in black, grey and navy. Why is that? Pinstripe suits are memorable, and therefore repeated wears will be noted, unlike suits in solid neutrals.
How do you style it?
The color of the suit and the stripe dictates the shirts and ties you choose. Ideally, the shirts you choose should match the stripes of the suit. But you have more freedom when the stripes almost match the background, because then you can treat it like a solid. That being said, the stripes will show up the closer someone gets to you, so here are a few important rules to dressing in pinstripe suits:
- Make sure your suit fits well. Pinstripe suits, like all suits, look best when it fits well. But, unlike other suits, say a black, navy or charcoal grey suit, pinstripe suit will show the bunching and stretching caused by bad fit because of the visible lines. The Tailorman made to measure service ensures that your suits are tailored to perfection.
- Wear solid color shirts, preferably neutrals. If you want to play with patterns, choose micro checks and subtle stripes, but always go with neutrals as a first choice.
- Accent the suit with ties and pocket squares with contrasting shades, e.g. navy blue, maroon, black, etc. Alternatively choose ties in light colors like gold or lilac. When it comes to patterns, it’s best to stick to paisleys, stripes, plaids, polka dots, provided they’re not loud.
- Tone down the accessories. In other words, reduce the points of focus on your ensemble – cufflinks, tie pins, big watches, etc. This allows for a clutter free look.
- Wear formal shoes like derbys, Oxfords or monkstraps.