Struggling to get back into the swing of summer style? You’re not alone. Winter may be long, cold and grey, but it spoils us for choice when it comes to clothing. Creating interesting outfits is easy thanks to the miracle of layering, and the wide variety of textured seasonal fabrics encourages sartorial creativity and expression.
Summer, not so much. Ever tried rocking a layered outfit full of wool, fleece and corduroy in 30° heat? It’s a one-way ticket to Sweat City. That basically leaves you with T-shirts, shorts and shirts, and there’s only so much you can do with such a limited range of garments.
This is where pattern comes into play. It’s your summer-style cheat code, offering a quick and easy way to make simple outfits pop. But parading around in all-over Hawaiian print or head-to-toe leopard spots isn’t for everyone, which is why simple vertical stripes are the number-one choice.
Why Buy A Vertical Stripe Shirt?
The reasons to embrace vertical stripes are many, but here are a few of the key reasons we keep coming back to them year after year.
First off, they’re flattering. We’ve all read and heard the claims that vertical stripes can magically make you look slimmer, and while they’re not a silver-bullet solution to vacation weight gain, they can at least shave a few pounds off thanks to a bit of visual trickery. The stripes naturally draw the eye up and down, which gives the appearance of an elongated figure. So if your goal is to look taller and slimmer, vertical stripes can help.
Secondly, stripes are a great ‘gateway’ pattern. On the whole, they’re subtle and classic, which means that even those who wouldn’t ordinarily wear patterns can dabble. There’s a lot of variety within the vertical-stripes genre too, so you can go as subtle, striking, elegant or obnoxious as you like.
How To Wear A Vertical Stripe Shirt
Vertical stripes are easy to wear, which is part of their appeal. Even so, there are a few key things to consider if you want to get it right every time.
Leave the pattern mixing to the pros. The best way to style a striped shirt, or any patterned shirt for that matter is to ensure the rest of the outfit is nice and low key. That means simple colours and no clashing prints. This will allow the shirt to become the main event, drawing the eye in rather than fighting with anything else for attention.
It’s worth thinking about the setting in which you intend to wear your vertical stripe shirt too. Certain styles of shirt are best suited to certain situations. A short-sleeve linen camp-collar shirt, for example, is excellent breezy vacation attire, while a poplin dress shirt is a better option for more formal occasions, like summer weddings.
There are several different types of stripe, which we’ll get into shortly, but as a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid anything too fine or too chunky. If the stripe is too fine and faint, the lengthening properties will be lost, and if you stray too far in the opposite direction, you risk veering into Bananas in Pyjamas territory.
Key Types Of Vertical Stripe
Also referred to as a ‘banker’s stripe’, this pattern is said to have originated in Victorian-era London where financial workers would wear it around the city on their expensive suits. It features thin stripes with wide gaps between them, usually in a contrasting colour.
The name of this stripe is a reference to its thinness. It’s made up of very thin lines spaced close together. So thin and so close, in fact, that it gives the impression of a texture more than a print.
It’s a good one for pattern mixing as it’s so subtle, and works great on smart-casual shirts like Oxford-cloth button downs.
A pencil stripe is very similar in structure to a pinstripe. The key difference is that the thickness of the stripes is dialled up a notch or two. Again, the stripes are usually coloured and the background is contrasting, most commonly white.
A track stripe is any striped pattern that mixes lines and gaps of varying widths and distances. It’s an offbeat alternative to more conventional striped patterns and is great for adding character to summer outfits.
This summer favourite features relatively thick stripes, equally spaced and set against a contrasting colour, blue and white being the most obvious combination. It’s fairly bold as far as striped patterns go.
The Best Vertical Stripe Shirt Brands
Wax London is a brand with a mission: to bring manufacturing back to the UK. Because of this, all of Wax’s garments are made right here in England, including its excellent shirt collection.
Best known for its superb Whiting overshirt and flannel designs, the up-and-coming label also offers some particularly stylish short-sleeved options, which have been inspired by old-school bowling shirts. Expect organic cotton construction and relaxed, boxy fits that are ideal for keeping cool in the heat.
Tokyo’s Beams Plus is one of the best brands to shop when it comes to preppy menswear pieces with a distinctly Japanese flavour. Fits tend to be loose and boxy, and key shirt styles include OCBDs and camp collars.
There are also plenty of offbeat alternatives too, like vertical stripe knitted polos for a touch of Ivy League cool.
Simplicity is often the best option when it comes to style and that’s what NN07 is all about. The brand makes a whole range of understated pieces but it’s particularly well known for its shirts.
The Miyagi camp collar is a seasonal staple and just so happens to come in a number of stripey variations.
Best known for bringing tailored swim shorts into the world, British brand Orlebar Brown is one of the biggest names in premium vacation resortwear. Floaty linen shirts are what it’s all about here and there’s plenty of them to go around.
You can’t talk about vertical stripe shirts without mentioning Paul Smith. The English designer built a brand around stripes, making them an integral part of his visual language. Expect classic styles and playful colour combinations.
A.P.C.’s signature brand of understated Parisian cool makes it an excellent choice for picking up a vertical stripe shirt to see you through the summer months. Styles change from season to season, but shirts featuring vertical stripes are always present in the collection in some form.
The ‘new prep’ trend, which sees classic Ivy League style being blended with elements from traditional tailoring and streetwear, has catapulted London’s Drake’s into the spotlight.
The brand is known for its unique flavour of ‘Savile Row meets mid-century collegiate cool’, and as you might expect from such a combination, the shirting is excellent, striped or otherwise.
Drawing inspiration from the Gitman Bros archives, Gitman Vintage makes high-quality, classic, casual shirting for day-to-day duties. There are few better striped OCBDs to be found, but be careful not to get caught out with the sizing as it’s notoriously all over the place.
If in doubt, consult the sizing chart and garment measurements and compare them to your current wardrobe.
Polo Ralph Lauren
Polo Ralph Lauren is a solid option if you’re looking for classic, preppy striped shirts. Styles like OCBDs, short-sleeved shirts and camp collars are what the brand does best, and the quality is fairly reliable.
There are three cuts – classic, custom and slim – so that you can always get the exact right fit, and the prices, while not cheap, offer great value for money.
Turnbull & Asser
Sometimes you have to dress up. Even in summer. When that time comes, it’s hard to beat a traditional Jermyn Street dress shirt from master shirtmaker Turnbull & Asser. We’re particularly fond of the classic candy-stripe shirts, which look outstanding with or without a tie due to the perfectly proportioned width of the stripes.