If you already own a couple of basic suits – read solid navy, solid grey, and solid charcoal – but want to expand your inventory with something bold, a pinstripe suit is your best bet. This humble print has experienced a revival in recent years and is seen around a lot more than before. What’s more, pinstripe suits have lost their uptight banker and gangster connotations!
Nevertheless, the print still exudes confidence and can be worn to quite a few out-of-office affairs. If you’re ready to up the ante with a pinstripe suit, here are some tips to help you do it right.
Know Your Stripes
Pinstripes are widely recognized but many people tend to confuse them with chalk stripes. While the former pattern uses a single fine thread to create the effect of a pinhead spot, the latter uses a series of light threads to resemble a line made by tailor’s chalk.
This may lead you to believe that pinstripes are crisp and chalk stripes are fuzzy. However, this isn’t always the case as the degree of definition also depends on the material of the fabric.
There’s yet another stripe pattern you should know about – the rope stripe, which is predominantly seen on worsted wool. This pattern has a gentle weave and creates a spiral effect. Also, the rope stripe pattern is broader than the pinstripe and almost indistinguishable from the chalk stripe.
Pick the Right Width
All stripes look great when worn, but choosing a stripe width that complements your height and body type is important.
Chalk stripes are usually wider than pinstripes and can emphasize girth, so avoid them if you are large. On the other hand, narrow stripes can elongate the frame and would be a great addition to your wardrobe if you’re short.
Dress for the Event
Pinstripe men’s suits are no longer just a 9-to-5 wear option – they can be worn to business meetings and evening soirées too. But there are boundaries and wearing a pinstripe suit to a black-tie event or when you go clubbing would be totally inappropriate!
Also note that suits in navy, grey, and charcoal with white or grey stripes are considered formal so save your colored pinstripe suit for casual affairs.
Be Careful When Mixing Patterns
Mixing patterns is not easy and if you’ve never experimented before, you should stick to pairing your pinstripe suit with solid colors. Wear a shirt in the same color as the stripes on your suit or pick a color that complements the suit. Refrain from matching the tie to the T; pick a contrasting color to add interest to your ensemble.
If you choose to take the road less traveled, do mix patterns carefully. Try to stick to the ‘two out of three’ rule – pair your pinstripe suit with a patterned shirt and solid tie or with a solid shirt and patterned tie.
The pattern of the shirt shouldn’t overpower the suit – if the suit has bold stripes, choose a shirt that has fine or light stripes. Also, the scale of the stripes on both the shirt and the suit has to be different. To be on the safe side, pick a shirt with small checks that won’t compete with the stripes on your suit.
When choosing patterned ties, checks and polka dots should be your go-to prints. Add a pocket square to match and you’ll look like a million bucks!
A pinstripe suit is a statement in itself so you won’t need to do much to accessorize it – a pair of cufflinks on a French cuff shirt will be enough! Go a step further and pair your silver cufflinks with a metal wristwatch. Alternatively, complete the look by matching your leather wristwatch to your shoes.
Further, pinstripe suits can be dressed up or down depending on the event or your mood. Wear your pinstripe suit, French cuffs, and cufflinks with a contrast collar to look elegant and polished. Emphasize the color of the stripes on your suit by wearing a tie in the same color and you’ll look as classy as you can get. For a contemporary look, wear a spread collar shirt and a thickly knotted tie, and you won’t go wrong!
Rocking a pinstripe suit may require you to put in some efforts- it’s not your everyday work wear suit after all. Nonetheless, once you get the hang of it, you’re sure to enjoy wearing it.
Because a pinstripe suit can draw attention to itself easily, it is best purchased when you already own a handful of suits in basic colors. If you only own a pinstripe suit and wear it everywhere, people are going to notice and that won’t help your image.
So if you are planning to buy a fifth or a sixth suit, go ahead and buy a pinstripe. You don’t have to worry about wearing it right as you’ve now got all the style tips you need!