How To Wear Stripes

Let’s face it - you probably know the basics of how to wear a striped shirt. They’re one of the most common pieces of clothing in a man's wardrobe - maybe you’re wearing one right now. With workplaces becoming more casual and fewer ties being worn, they're also a great way to bring interest and definition to an outfit. There are a few nuances to wearing them that will help you look your smartest, whilst building a cohesive wardrobe.

When it comes to picking what kind of stripe to wear, there are a few things to consider. As a general rule of thumb the finer and narrower the stripe, the more formal it is, and the wider you go the more casual it becomes. Dark, bold stripes also tend to err on the more formal side.

For business shirting, this means pencil stripes are a great place to begin. Wider than an ultra-fine hairline stripe, pencil stripes are excellent at carrying colour and pattern without overpowering an outfit. 

Their slightly wider cousin, the bengal stripe, is another excellent choice, offering a broader base of colour and feeling a touch softer as a result. Often made up in Oxford cloth, if you’re looking for a shirt that to wear both with and without a tie this is one to consider. Button-down bengal stripe shirts look particularly good.

There’s a slightly more curious in-betweener here, in the form of the baiadera stripe. Made up of multiple, even-width stripes of different colours, the baiadera has the severity of a formal shirt, but the broader colour palette of something much more easy-going. It’s another chameleon, able to adapt depending on its context - but it does pack a punch, so best pair it with plain tailoring.

For casual shirting, things naturally are a little more relaxed. The key thing to avoid anything too severe or fine. Going up in width again from the bengal stripe, awning stripes are defiantly wide. Designed without neckwear in mind, these pair beautifully with plain tailoring or large scale checks.

Just as important as what stripe to wear is what to wear it with. We frequently get asked questions about how to match patterns, and whilst there are no hard and fast guidelines as to what works, using what’s known as the “rule of two” is a great place to start. 

Essentially the idea is that each pattern should be at least twice as big or half as big as the next pattern. So if your shirt featured a fine hairline stripe, for instance, then you could probably pair it with a wider chalkstripe jacket without making the outfit look fussy or cluttered. Once you start seeing this, you’ll start noticing what works and what doesn’t everywhere.

If you have any questions, or want help matching a particular stripe, we’re here to help.

How To Wear Stripes | Dispatch