Polish up your act in tailored pinstripes: How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson
- While pinstripe has felt too dressed up for several years, that’s no longer the case
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When I think of pinstripe, I think of a blazer: dark navy with a chalk stripe, wide lapels, sharp shoulders.
I think Yves Saint Laurent: glamour with a smoky 1970s filter. I think women looking powerful and sexy and smart in the working girl 1980s, and all of a sudden I really want a pinstripe jacket.
We live in pretty casual times and a pinstripe blazer — pinstripe anything — has felt 25 per cent too dressed up for several years. But not any more. Effortless elegance are the watch-words of fashion right now.
The camel coat is riding high. Smart, crisp, flared jeans are back in style. A blouse, a shiny ankle boot, grey flannel pants — these re-invigorated classics are crying out for a bit of pinstripe tailoring in the mix.
Navy pinstripe goes with pretty much everything (it’s basically navy), plus it will add that frisson of sophisticated It Woman that gives grown-up minimal clothes the bump they need.
The Princess of Wales teamed her navy blue pinstripe suit with a crisp white shirt for a smart look
South African model Candice Swanepoel looked chic in wide-legged pinstripe trousers and a matching navy blazer
I’m delighted we’re back in pinstripe territory: the navy cord blazer I’ve been wearing for six years is looking tired, and this is just the upgrade I want for autumn — sharper, more polished.
And suddenly there are so many designs to choose from. Autograph at Marks & Spencer has a one-button blazer in a dark navy wool mix (£119, marksandspencer.com) that stands out from the crowd.
It could be wider in the lapels for me, but this is a good-looking jacket with a good fit, and it has the flap pockets that stop a blazer looking too square.
There is a slightly oversize version by & Other Stories in a good chalky stripe (£165, stories.com) — great if you want to throw it on over a sweater — and Mint Velvet’s ticks most of the boxes (£169, mintvelvet.com): it’s double-breasted, so you can wear it buttoned up and instantly look twice as smart, and it’s roomy without being too broad in the shoulders.
Exaggerated shoulders are what separate this year’s pinstripe blazers from previous incarnations, but a bit of sharp shoulder goes a long way.
Massimo Dutti’s jacket (£169, massimodutti.com) has a narrower, cleaner pinstripe, so it’s a little more subdued.
Navy and chalk pinstripe is the classic combination, but you could ring the changes with a light grey, again from M&S (£79), and this one is (bingo!) double-breasted.
For everyday officewear, grey has advantages: it’s softer, less of a statement, and arguably less smart (navy always wins after dark).
Alexa Chung cut a stylish figure in a double-breasted pinstriped jacket with a slightly narrower trouser
But don’t be tempted by black (too harsh) or other colours; the whole point of pinstripe tailoring is it’s one of those classics that is back because it fits together easily and has a wearability guarantee.
The only question is, do you stop at the blazer or buy the trousers, too? If you work in an office and/or you feel comfortable in trouser suits, then I wouldn’t hesitate. And then I’d wear them separately 90 per cent of the time.
A pinstripe suit is terrific, but it’s not your Friday evening in the pub staple. Wear the trousers with a grey or matelot-striped sweater, or dress them up with a cream blouse and a block heel.
PINSTRIPE: THE NEW RULES
- Stick to navy or grey.
- Keep trousers wide.
- Wear the blazer on its own with denim.
- Wear with ankle boots or loafers
Wear the blazer with a dark blue-and-white striped boyfriend shirt or buttoned up over a layering top with A-line jeans.
Pinstripe tailoring should look like it’s borrowed from the boys, so make sure your trousers are relaxed and a bit slouchy but smart. Say no to drawstring waists, cargo pockets and cropped styles.
Zara does a slouchy suit-style trouser (£49.99, zara.com) and Warehouse has a wide-legged pair (£45.50, warehousefashion.com).
This pinstripe revival isn’t confined to blazers and trousers. At Saint Laurent there were skirts to match the jackets, but most of us have limited opportunities to wear a pencil skirt.
A pinstripe waistcoat plus trousers looks cute, but you’d need to be Jennifer Aniston to carry it off.
What shoes go best with the look? Boots will work, loafers or a high heel if you want.
That’s the thing about pinstripe, it’s the tailoring that sizzles after dark, packs a punch in the workplace or you can just wear it with a tank top, a striped T-shirt and trainers. Heaven.
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