Often the reserve of the well-heeled city executive or 1980s yuppy, the pinstripe suit comes with its own socio-cultural connotations and style history. However, it’s been reconsidered, remastered and, sometimes relaxed for the modern wearer’s taste and needs in recent years.
The pinstripe suit traditionally looks and feels intrinsically British, very Savile Row, but with a sartorial influence transcending borders and time. A distinctive tailoring code that has been embraced for well over 100 years – from the bankers of Victorian London to the gangsters of Prohibition-era America and beyond.
Despite a seemingly broad spectrum of adopters, one common thread unites them and the pinstripe suit – that of formality, of business. Today though, we at AGR propose that the rules have evolved. From board meetings to big nights out, weddings to weekend breaks, this icon of men’s style finds itself suitable for more scenarios than you may think.
With more versatility than ever, we thought we’d demonstrate our pinstripe's point of view with some stylish examples.
THE LESS IS MORE OPTION
Pinstripes needn’t be bold, and this double-breasted offering from Suit Supply in dark grey proves the point. The clean lines, peak lapel and slimmer silhouette are offset by a half-canvassed shoulder and mid-weight construction that softens the formality somewhat. We suggest keeping things simple and elevated with a colour palette and aesthetic like this. A crisp white shirt or smart black crew neck t-shirt with a black leather lace-up or loafer works perfectly.
THE BRITISH GENT OPTION
“Manners maketh man” – channel your inner Kingsman with this perfect double-breasted navy suit. Oozing a traditional, Savile Row mood, this pinstripe tailoring lends itself to cranking up those English style details throughout. The formality of an Oxford leather derby in dark brown or black is our suggested pairing. Pale blue shirting is what Mr Porter proposes, but you could easily opt for a pristine white. If you’re ever going to wear a tie, this is the time.
THE DATE NIGHT OPTION
Supremely elegant pinstripe suit from British luxury brand Thom Sweeney. The navy's depth and the tailoring's contemporary cut make it easily styled for elevated evening occasions. If conditions allow, the tonal roll neck and dark brown lace-up or loafer pairing work really well. You could relax this look further with a lighter gauge knitted polo or crew neck tee. My alternative footwear option here would be a chocolate brown suede desert boot.
THE MODERN BOARDROOM OPTION
This Purple label three-piece feels timeless – with a real sense of traditional executive style. The clean, modern silhouette and pared-back detailing bring it all up to date. For us, this suit is city-appropriate for those workplace environments with slightly stricter dress codes. You can complement it with a striped shirt (as Ralph Lauren has suggested themselves) and a pocket square that pulls a colour match from your shirt or tie. That’s all the flourish you need.
THE CLASSIC NAVY OPTION
Peak lapel, classic chalk stripe and double-breasted silhouette. This Hawes & Curtis two-piece demonstrates the power and timelessness of the navy pinstripe suit. It’s another example of perfect boardroom-ready tailoring. However, we’d suggest that with some clever styling tweaks, this suit could work inside and outside the office. Change the mood with a navy merino knit and brown Chelsea boot – giving you an extra sartorial string to this elegant bow.
THE SUMMER CITY BREAK OPTION
The perfect lightweight summer pinstripe tailoring from Sirplus. This jacket and trouser show that the traditional formality of the pinstripe suit can be softened, relaxed and made appropriate for warmer weather. We’d say it’s ideally suited for a weekend away where you want to keep things stylish. A white crew neck t-shirt or an easy cotton polo in complementary colour pairs beautifully. The full ensemble could be finished with a minimal or statement trainer for an extra twist.
THE ALL-ROUNDER OPTION
With a subtle pinstripe, this suit from Marks & Spencer can handle work and play – and everything in between, without breaking the bank. The regular fit with a hint of stretch adds to the comfort and practicality, making it an easy piece of tailoring to travel in too. Dress it up with a business shirt, tie and smart leather lace-up or take things down a notch with a navy Merino crew neck and a simple dark brown leather Chelsea boot.
THE BOARDROOM-TO-BAR OPTION
A modern classic in timeless dark grey from Tom Ford. According to Mr Porter, this particular collection of after-hours suits for FW22 are “the kind you wear to unwind after work in restaurants and clubs.” If you’re in the city for work or a business meeting, envisage being as comfortable (and as sharp) in the boardroom as you are at the bar later that day. If you’re feeling prepared, you could switch out the shirt and tie for a black roll-neck.
THE SUMMER COCKTAILS OPTION
A lightweight, relaxed formality imbues this modern pinstripe suit from Hugo Boss. We’ve suggested this twist on tradition is perfect for something like summer cocktails or even a warm-weather wedding. The contemporary, slim fit cut and seersucker construction can be worn with a crisp white shirt, t-shirt or soft collared polo for a fully seasonal look. Depending on the situation, a leather shoe or loafer could be swapped for a low-profile minimal sneaker.
THE NEW 9-5 OPTION
Modern office dress codes have evolved in the last ten years, especially during and since the pandemic. For many industries, the tie is no longer necessary, or perhaps it never really was. This deconstructed Zegna pinstripe suit offers the wearer a simple, clean and contemporary silhouette that’s easy to pair with a lightweight polo in the summer. Leather lace-ups could easily be swapped for a loafer or minimal sneaker. Elegant and work-appropriate.
THE VERSATILE ELEGANCE OPTION
British luxury menswear house Dunhill offers timeless English style and a dedication to craftsmanship and masculine elegance. This slim ‘Mayfair fit’ blazer and trousers in grey chalk stripe are incredibly versatile. You could imagine elevating an after-hours look with a black roll neck and black Chelsea boot or you adapt things for work with a pristine white formal shirt and optional tie. A great go-to suit option for any occasion.
THE STYLE ON A BUDGET OPTION
A bank balance-friendly alternative to some of our more luxurious suggestions - that still doesn’t scrimp on style or quality - is this John Lewis pinstripe in recycled wool. Offered in a rich navy chalk stripe, a piece of tailoring like this is very versatile. Weddings, work or more relaxed for a big night on the tiles – it all works. The regular fit drape keeps things comfortable, whatever you’re up to.
THE 100% ITALIAN OPTION
This already beautifully proportioned suit from Pini Parma is available on made-to-order should you wish to refine things further. We’d suggest the quality, finish and detail level for a two-piece like this lends itself to a very important formal occasion – perhaps a summer wedding in the Italian lakes? Features like the high-rise trouser, natural shoulder and slightly wider stripe provide a signature Mediterranean silhouette you can really embrace.
THE SARTORIAL OPTION
For those that need something exceedingly sharp and well-tailored for their day-to-day. Savile Row has a rich heritage and level of excellence when it comes to British tailoring, and this limited edition pinstripe suit serves as a fitting tribute. We’d suggest keeping things understated and formal with a beautiful business shirt with a cutaway or point collar – finished with a mulberry silk tie and well-buffed black leather derbies.
THE AL FRESCO DINING OPTION
Perfectly suited to a well-considered night out, a summer lunch meeting or even a few drinks on the terrace. According to Corneliani, this lightweight pinstripe suit offers “minimal elegance, sophisticated materials and impeccable fits.” Relaxed tailoring is surprisingly hard to pull off well, but you are on to a winner with a two-piece like this. The soft construction, lighter colour palette and easy seasonal styling options mean you’ll look and feel great.