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What is a Pinstripe Suit?

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  • Written By: Mandi R. Hall
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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A pinstripe suit is a suit that has been embellished with thin, parallel vertical stripes. Though historically associated with men’s business attire, the pinstripe suit is worn in modern times by both male and female fashion followers. Appropriately paired with shiny dress shoes, dress socks, a solid tie, and solid dress shirt, this type of suit may also be paired with a matching pinstripe vest. The suit may, however, be a two- or three-piece ensemble that is either single- or double-breasted. Manufactured in many colors and materials, the suit is traditionally made of black wool and white vertical stripes.

Because a pinstripe suit is designed with vertical stripes, it’s a common suit choice for men of all shapes and sizes. Cardinal style guides suggest stout people stay away from horizontal stripes, as they only enhance a burgeoning waistline. Pinstripes, then, elongate a person’s figure, making him appear thinner and taller than he may actually be. Like other suits, a pinstriped one is typically meant to be worn close to the body with some wiggle room for comfort. Though most 21st century suits are sold as ready-to-wear, many men still take their suits to be tailored so that they fit properly.

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A pinstripe suit can be worn during a plethora of circumstances. It’s perfect for formal or semi-formal wear at a special occasion such as a wedding or gala. Likewise, it works as business wear at the office or for an interview, or as informal or smart-casual wear to happy hour. As most pinstripe suits are dark in color, a navy or black pinstripe suit can be right for most any event.

Zoot suits are another type of pinstripe suit. Similar in style, but characterized by certain overstated elements, the zoot suit was first popularized in the 1930s and 1940s, with a brief recurrence of popularity in the 1990s. High-waisted and generally worn with suspenders, this type of pinstripe suit has wider legs and wider shoulders than traditional pinstripe suits. Complete with pegged cuffs and a longer suit coat, the zoot suit has made appearances in prom fashion and big band orchestras, as well as Halloween costumes.

In modern times, the pinstripe suit is still a classic look. Because the suit is already patterned with its distinguishing stripes, men should err on the side of caution when choosing a tie and shirt to pair with it. Choosing a bold pattern for either coordinating garment could be a mistake. Solid colors, especially white, are the best bet. While many designers are known to pair clashing patterns in advertisements and on the red carpet, a pinstripe suit works best when paired with clean, solid accompaniments.

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Vincenzo
Post 2

@Melonlity -- I agree, but don't go too nuts in picking out that eye catching tie. Going too far is just in bad taste. For example, paisley is usually fine but a tie with a hula girl is not. It is a fine line, I know, but one that should be observed.

Oh, and long live that pinstripe suit!

Melonlity
Post 1

Ah, the good ole pinstripe suit. It is one of those things that never goes out of style. A charcoal gray pinstripe suit can see a man through about any type of event where wearing a suit is mandatory.

I do take issue with the bit about the solid tie. Paisley ties, for example, look great with those things. The problem with solid ties is that men have few opportunities to express themselves because shirts and suits are pretty standard. The tie is the only thing that allows for individualism. Might as well have some fun with the tie.

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