Fashion always rotates what’s trending from one season to the next, but this summer sees a very literal pivot. The classic horizontal stripe – the basis of your summertime no-brainer, the Breton top – is rotating through 90 degrees: vertical stripes are in. Dissecting everything from bomber jackets to shorts to pinstripe suits, this slimming and versatile pattern is easy to dress up or down, switching between boardroom stiffness, breezy Riviera cool and football-terrace attitude depending on how you style them.
The easiest way to wear the trend is with a vertical stripe shirt, channelling Armie Hammer’s preppy wardrobe in Call Me By Your Name. A lightweight, linen or cotton option with rolled up sleeves over a tee and chino shorts sets a great balance of collegiate cool and relaxed seaside style.
As well as giving you a point of difference from the Breton Brigade (a look that’s been all but usurped by school-run mums), a vertical stripe shirt also makes you appear taller and more like there’s a swimwear model’s body hiding underneath. Olie Arnold, Mr Porter style director says, “It offers slimming qualities as the vertical line draws the eye up and down creating a lengthening effect.’”
The key to achieving this lengthening effect is chiefly down to the width of the stripe. Anything too fine and faint in colour will miss the mark, and similarly anything too chunky can be a little more pyjama party than Riviera reception. And to that end, stick to only one stripe per item of clothing, unless you’re feeling adventurous.
Learn Your Stripes
There are a few different ways to explore a vertical stripe shirt and all bring a different quality to the look.
Nothing says the seaside quite like a deckchair on rocky overcast beach. Deckchairs are a staple of British summertime in particular, and their slightly chunkier vertical stripes lounge nicely on a casual shirt. It’s a bolder look, especially with a colour repeat like red and white, but also look for more muted options in light greys and pastels, especially on Oxford shirts.
Even wider vertical stripes are a mainstay of football shirts and evoke memories of verbally abusing innocent referees from the terraces in the days before football kits were littered with betting company logos. With terrace fashion being co-opted by streetwear brands and others, this style of stripe is making a summer transfer to your shirt collection. As well as wide stripes look for out for options with alternating wide and narrow lines.
A primary example of the blurred lines in menswear right now, this stuffy boardroom staple has been repurposed as a casual piece in recent years. The Wall Street bunch might still love the narrow chalky stripe on a dark coloured suit, but you’ll also find shirts – formal and casual – that give the pattern a much broader appeal.
Another style with a history in high finance, these narrow stripes have also been withdrawn from corner offices and turned into something more casual. Still a fine option for the working week, you also have the option of wearing them for smart casual weekend events – or, look for an oversized version for a streetwear look. Either way, it’s a sound investment.
House of Fraser
With A Cuban Collar
This type of shirt has become a mainstay of summer wardrobes in the last few years, and the addition of a wide stripe offers some fifties glamour. Buttoned up and tucked in looks preppy and finished but the ideal way to wear this is open with a crisp white T-shirt underneath. Pair with some tortoiseshell glasses and a summer cocktail.
The Best Brands For Vertical Stripe Shirts
Preppy old boy Gant started life as a shirtmaker in 1949 and has been doing smart vertical stripes pretty much ever since. For this brand, it’s not a trend but a permanent fixture. Come here for business casual button-downs with narrow banker stripes or lighter pinstripes for your weekend wardrobe and summer on the Riviera.
Spanish high street king Mango has upped its menswear offering in the last few years, settling on a European take on the American preppy look. Vertical stripe shirts fit perfectly into that aesthetic and the brand stocks everything from high-contrast work shirts, casual linen styles and Oxford shirts with a chunky deckchair stripe.
Mr Porter’s in-house label offers a small but considered collection with a good track record for backing the trends that have staying power. Vertical stripe shirts are one of them. Mr P leans towards the fifties with its options, boxy in fit, wider in the arms and finished with a Cuban (or camp) collar.
High street heavyweight Topman is guaranteed to take a trend and run with it, so it’s no surprise that its offerings are bold in appearance and tight on the fit. All the classic shirt styles are present, the Cuban collar, the smart cut and casual styles. The colours are loud, the statement made will be a big one.
For a holiday-ready capsule wardrobe, look no further than preppy America’s homecoming king, Tommy Hilfiger. Famous for lasting quality, an excellent cut and a buttoned-up but nonchalant style, it’s a brand that can legitimately offer any kind of striped shirt and make it look good. As well as smart casual workwear and breezy Hamptons Oxford shirts, the brand also offers oversized and heavily branded options for its logo-loving streetwear customers.
Marks and Spencer
With more than 500 shirts in its collection, the old reliable of the British high street has more than a few vertical stripe options to choose from. The majority are smart banker stripes but you’ll also find colourful deckchair options and the odd Cuban collar, too, especially in its Oliver Cheshire-fronted Autograph collection. Quality construction and accessible prices across the board.
This 20-year-old American brand looks to make everyday staples that are as comfortable as sportswear. It shirts are a prime example, with baseball-inspired silhouettes showing that pinstripes aren’t just for bankers. The label also offers more traditional cuts with simple stripes in wearable colours.
Sitting at the expensive end of the high street, Reiss gives you access to premium fabrics and the latest cuts without having to shell out on full designer prices. Its vertical stripes are either sharp and high contrast, sitting best under a smart blazer; or, they’re breezy, colourful and more than likely feature a Cuban collar.
If you want to avoid boxy Cuban collars and go traditional, opting for a banker stripe shirt from Charles Tyrwhitt is not a bad idea. The brand excels at buttoned-up 9-5 dressing but does so without the stuffy prices. Offered in slim and classic fits, look for a poplin weave that’s breathable and also a cinch to iron.
Parisian scenester brand A.P.C. is famous for paying very close attention to the catwalk and its interpretations are classic with urban details finished in luxurious fabrics. Its vertical stripe shirts lean toward midcentury styling, whether it’s a workwear-inspired overshirt or a bold casual piece that belongs in a neon-lit bowling alley.