suits tailoring in London Fielding & Nicholson

Power of the pinstripe

Power of the pinstripe

A classic pinstripe suit is up in the ranks amongst the most classic, classy suits a gentleman can own. They’ve been popular amongst bankers, movie stars, musicians and all kinds of folk in-between ever since stripes first made their way into cloth in the early 19th century. 

The styling of the suits has of course changed and evolved over the years, but the cloth itself still remains as relevant as ever. In fact; as even more variations of stripe size and colour have become available, the demand for modernised pinstripes in the wardrobe has increased.

Grey and Blue Pinstripes

History shows that pinstripes originated in England around the end of the 19th century, though for what purpose the pinstripe was developed is debated. One theory is that they were made for bankers, with the size/distance of the stripe signifying employees from different banking institutions. For some, this is still very much what a grey or blue pinstripe suit signifies: the stuffy old-school British banker.

While this can be true, it’s certainly not the only option for wearing or styling your suit. Should one wish to stick to the traditional bank suit style, a double breasted suit with large peak lapels and turned up trousers will certainly project a “Kingsman” like gentleman image. Keep the trousers and jacket more tailored to the body for a sharper look. If however one desires a more modern version of the classic banker style, a well tailored single breasted jacket cuts a cleaner silhouette and a sharp peak lapel helps create the strong British shoulder. 

As well as the styling of the suit itself, the way you dress your suit will also affect the overall look. A single or a double breasted pinstripe suit with a crisp white shirt automatically looks clean, smart and corporate. Switch the white for a light blue shirt and the look becomes a little brighter. Change from a plain cotton shirt and instead go for an Oxford or a denim shirt to create a difference in texture and therefore depth, something you can play with a little more in a casual environment.

For a more dressed-down summer look you can try the juxtapose of a T-shirt and pinstripe suit, adding white sneakers if the occasion allows it. On the other end of the spectrum; in the winter a pinstripe suit can be paired with a well fitting roll-neck jumper to fend of the cold. With either a Tee or a roll-neck you of course lose the decoration of a tie, so a safe bet is always a white with blue or grey and then you can let the suit do the real talking. 

Brown pinstripes 

Brown is always making its way into style blogs these days, and that’s purely because it’s such a useful addition to almost any part of ones wardrobe. Because it’s still a muted – for lack of a better word “Boring” – colour, it fits nicely into the office without raising too many eyebrows. That said, it’s different enough from the general blue/grey sea that only a few changes in how the suit is styled or worn can take you from office worker to style icon. 

Like with blue and grey; the option for T-shirts and roll-necks is always available, as are coloured shirts as opposed to whites. But given that brown isn’t quite as corporate you can afford to play around further still with casual ideas. Polo-neck shirts in earthy greens or oranges work beautifully under brown pinstripes, as does pairing a brown stripe jacket with pair of blue jeans and a similar brown brogue. 


As mentioned previously, one theory for the rise of pinstripes is that they were developed for Bankers. The other theory is that they evolved from the striped uniforms of men who liked messing about on water, I.E the rowing community. Striped jackets are still most common at places like the henley regatta, but in the early days of these stripe jackets they became popular through the 20’s and 30’s with American jazz musicians, film stars and of course gangsters. 

While now there are still “Banker” pinstripes and “Boater” pinstripes, the journey stripes have had through the ages has left us with all manner of options. Be your style old school or new-school, wether you’re male or you’re female, you’re bold or you’re shy; stripes have their place in any wardrobe – and that’s the power of the pinstripe.

Related Journal Entries

Our Newsletter

Get exclusive advice and offers from our expert tailors and sartorial experts.