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Slippers in Menswear

If you ask the average person to envision a slipper they’ll usually picture the typical fluffy bath slipper. Yet, there are more refined versions of the slipper that occupies a distinct place in classic menswear.

Agnelli in slippers with burgundy socke and grey flannel suit

Gianni Agnelli , ever the rule-breaker, in burgundy leather slippers

What is a Slipper?

Traditionally, slippers have several characteristics that help identify them. The first is that you must be able to slip them on and off without any sort of fastening, as the name suggests.  Another feature of slippers is that they’re generally soft with minimal structure and a thin sole, so you can’t walk over rough ground or even hard sidewalks for any length of time with them; if you do, you’ll have aching feet and your soles will wear out in a hurry. 

Monogrammed velvet slippers of Truman - note the HT is engraved upside down

Monogrammed velvet slippers of President Truman – note his initials are engraved upside down

Thus, unlike shoes, slippers are made primarily for indoor use. They don’t allow much mobility except what’s required to totter around the house.

A Brief History of the Slipper

It is said that women in the harems of the Ottoman Turks were made to wear slippers because with them they could not go far if they escaped. And, as reported by The Costume Historian, an 18th-century poem by Dr. William King jokes that when a husband goes out too much, his wife will “give him slippers and lock up his shoes.” Although these examples suggest slippers are a means of domination and control for either sex, they can also be a status symbol, since the wearer clearly doesn’t engage in much physical labor while wearing them.

Ottoman Turkish slippers

Ottoman Turkish slippers

There are some suggestions online that the slipper was invented by a man named Alvin Slipper in 1922, but this is highly doubtful since the term has been used since 1478 to describe a similar type of footwear. Since the 16th century, silk, velvet or leather versions have been worn by wealthy Europeans.

Victorian mens slippers

Victorian men’s slippers were a status symbol

Slippers tend to be associated with the East and, in fact, they were worn as far back as 4700 BCE in China. The modern Eastern association of slippers probably relates most to the Asian practice of removing one’s outdoor footwear upon entering a house  Slippers are meant as a sign of the separation between the inside and outside worlds, having a strictly indoor function. Slippers also appear in other ancient cultures. For example, a Roman burial from 220 AD unearthed in Wiltshire, UK contained a skeleton wearing slippers, which were already a sign of high status. The other burials were wearing heavy shoes or boots.

Types of Slippers

Though many forms of slippers exist for men, let’s take a look at the category of fine men’s slippers.

Mule-Style Slippers

Men's Leather Mule Slippers

A pair of $ 50 mule-style leather slippers from Samuel Windsor in the UK

For purposes of classic menswear, there are essentially two broad varieties of slipper.  Perhaps the most common is one with an open back and only a front enclosure for the foot; this is known as a “mule” in modern terminology but were formerly called pantofles, which is similar to what they are still called in the Romance languages. This kind of slipper can be made in a variety of materials, including leather or velvet, and are stereotypically worn by dads in flannel robes reclining in their easy chairs reading the Sunday newspaper. Because they are backless, these slippers are impractical for outdoor use or any sort of extended walking. You generally won’t find them in menswear boutiques because they are inexpensive, very casual and easily mass produced rather than luxury items that require a great deal of craftsmanship. Therefore, we won’t say much more about them.

Woodcut print from  showing mule-style slippers

Woodcut print from The Costume Historian showing mule-style slippers

Closed-Back Slippers

The second sort of slipper is one that has a closed back, resembling more of a shoe or loafer. You’ll sometimes be hard pressed to recognize the difference between a closed-back slipper and a loafer. Both are laceless and cut low, so they sit below the ankle bone, and both have a separate sole, unlike moccasins and driving shoes in which the leather of the sole is essentially part of the upper. Often the term “slipper” is applied to soft, unstructured loafers, perhaps with a lower profile and a more streamlined look; the difference is really a matter of semantics.

 

Slippers vs. loafers

Italian shoemaker Belsire’s slippers and loafers are quite similar, both leather slip-ons with soles and a low heel (compare to the obviously different driver)

Indeed, the lesser-known Aurland and Wildsmith loafers, both developed in Norway, were either originally intended for indoor use of called “slippers” at some point.  Belgian loafers, developed by Henri Bendel in New York in the 1950s, are a loafer style that straddles the slipper world. Those made by Baudoin & Lange in London have been celebrated widely online for their comfort, but their soft, unstructured style and thin soles makes them optimal for wearing in the house or office and less suited for pounding the pavement all day. So, when looking at loafers, you can consider the ones that are “ultralight” in soft suede with thin soles to be hybrid slippers to be worn accordingly. Of course, there are few hard and fast rules these days, so you can wear slippers outdoors if you can endure them.

Simon Crompton in Baudoin and Lange Belgian Loafers

Simon Crompton of Permanent Style wearing Baudoin & Lange Sagan Belgian loafers. Note the soft structure and thin soles.

Opera Pumps

Paradoxically, although slippers (and slipper-like loafers) are most often casual shoes, there are highly formal versions. Part of Beau Brummell‘s revolutionizing of menswear was his simplification of dress. His uniform of a blue coat, buff waistcoat, off-white linen shirt with white cravat, buckskin trousers, and dark riding boots is the most talked about development, but in the evening, he wore the same blue coat with a white waistcoat, black pants, striped silk socks, and black slippers.

A pair of Regency gents at a ball wearing slippers

A pair of Regency gents at a ball wearing slippersSlippers were already worn at the time, but, consistent with all of his style moves, Brummell’s innovation was making it less ostentatious.

Buckled mens shoes from the Regency period were the precursor to modern slippers

Buckled men’s shoes from the V & A Costume Museum collection from the Regency period were the precursor to modern slippers

He removed the silver buckle on the vamp of earlier slippers and replaced it with a simple black bow. Such slippers were worn to the opera, to evening parties and to balls. They were no more durable than the typical indoor slipper, but the well-dressed gents of high society would usually arrive at such events in carriages or sedan chairs and would not need to do much outdoor walking.

Opera pumps worn casually

Two vintage ads from Instagram user ptenopedilos showing opera pumps worn casually, the latter among daring students in 1916.

In the 21st century, the association with evening events remains, and we call these slippers opera pumps. Opera pumps today are typically black patent leather with a grosgrain silk bow across the vamp, designed to match the silk of tuxedo lapels and the bow tie.

Dinner jacket with black silk socks by Fort Belvedere and opera pumps aka court shoes

Sven Raphael Schneider wears a dinner jacket with black silk socks by Fort Belvedere and opera pumps

Their venue is primarily evening formal wear: an option with black tie and required with white tie, thus keeping with their original purpose and association with the highest level of formality. They have been worn by daring sorts during the early 20th century in much the same way as loafers but not so much these days.

Bernhard Roetzel in black tie

Bernhard Roetzel in black tie and opera pumps

Opera pumps are unique in appearance among masculine footwear. Some say they are feminine because “pumps” usually refer to women’s shoes. and because they are worn with sheer black socks or hose. Those who are aware of the history of pumps will think otherwise.

The Albert Slipper

The most famous and unmistakable closed-back slippers are Albert slippers, named (like the Prince Albert tie knot) for the royal consort of Queen Victoria. During the Victorian era, men began to appreciate the need the need to keep the dirt out of their homes and exchanged their boots or shoes for slippers when they came inside. Prince Albert was one such man, and, of course, the fact that he lived in various palaces added extra incentive for him to keep the floors and rugs clean.  He can be seen wearing slippers in various well-known portraits since 1840, though in these cases he is wearing what looks like shiny opera pumps, which are still de rigueur with court dress to this day.

Two portraits showing Prince Albert in slippers

Two portraits showing Prince Albert in slippers

The more casual Albert slipper, on the other hand, is traditionally made in black velvet. Interestingly, the leather version of the Albert slipper is technically known as the Churchill, presumably because they were favored by Sir Winston in the next century. The Albert slipper can keep your feet warm, so they are most suited for cool season wear or living in a large, poorly heated Victorian home. Alberts can feature the same grosgrain silk ribbon of an opera pump, but more often the vamp is either plain or features motifs made with embroidery.

Albert Slippers are an option with your dinner jacket at home

Sven Raphael Schneider favors his custom velvet Albert Slippers with the Fort Belvedere logo for entertaining at home

This is an opportunity to showcase your individuality and personality with a monogram or rakish decorations like a skull and crossbones, crowns, or stags’ heads. Other features include a whole-cut upper (made from a single piece of material) and a quilted interior including the footbed.

Various Prince Albert Slippers for Men

Various Prince Albert Slippers for Men

Albert slippers come in different colors as well–burgundy and navy blue being two popular choices. In this way, they can be paired with a matching velvet dinner jacket, which is the perfect way to wear them if you are hosting a dinner party at your home. The velvet lends them formality, while their nature as slippers brings in a casual vibe. Some men wear velvet slippers with a dinner jacket outside the house or even just on the street, usually sockless. This can give you an air of sprezzatura worn with a pair of jeans and a cotton sport coat for local jaunts, but if you’ve got a dinner jacket on, you need to wear thin socks.

Marcus Troy in Albert Slippers

Blogger Marcus Troy wearing velvet Albert slippers casually with red chinos and a navy jacket

For a sockless option that elevates your look at home, you can try your Alberts with a dressing gown or a smoking jacket to channel Hugh Hefner and the lifestyle of lounging around that he projected through his famous uniform.

Hugh Hefner in Slippers

Hugh Hefner in his dressing gown and velvet slippers. Avoid the thick white gym socks though.

Indeed, the Albert Slipper first took off in popularity alongside the fashion of wearing a smoking jacket in the mid-19th century, so there is a long precedent for wearing them this way.

Albert Slipper Options

Averaging around $ 300 and ranging up to $ 500 or more for an item intended primarily for indoor use, the Albert slipper is certainly a luxurious indulgence.  If you want a department store source, Brooks Brothers sell them at the low end with Ralph Lauren featuring a pair at designer pricing ($ 650 for their minimalist plain black Collis slipper).

Much better deals can be had at British specialty makers like Bowhill & Elliott (around $ 200) while most of the Jermyn Street shoemakers will have some models for sale. Crockett & Jones will even make a custom pair for you starting at £230 though you have to wait 8-10 weeks.

Del Toro velvet albert slippers in wine red

Del Toro velvet Albert slippers in wine red

For the greatest selection of fabric colors and designs, two options are American brands Del Toro ($ 325) and Stubbs & Wootton ($ 500), the latter featuring a range of irreverent and fun embroidered designs.

How to Wear Slippers

Put them on your feet, you may reply sarcastically, but slippers today often make public appearances on the feet of many a well-dressed man.

Eddie Remayne in black velvet dinner jacket with black velvet slippers but no cummerbund or vest

Eddie Redmayne in black velvet dinner jacket with black velvet slippers

The choice is wholly up to you, but we favor the classic approach of leaving our slippers at home. There are so many other interesting pairs of shoes to wear out and about; why not enjoy this one style of shoe at home?

Conclusion

However you choose to wear them, slippers are a worthy addition to your collection. Start with a pair of Albert slippers for the most use, selecting embroidery that suits your personality. Before you know it, you’ll start dressing up at home, at least on Sundays!

Do you wear formal slippers? Inside or out? Formal or informal? Share in the Comments section below.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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Stripes in Menswear: Different Types and How to Wear Them

When it comes to the classic patterns of menswear, those based on the simple line–that is to say, stripes–remain just as popular today as they have been for centuries. In this primer, we’ll discuss the different kinds of striped patterns in tailored clothes and show you how to “fall in line” with wearing them well.

Striped Suits - Boardwalk Empire

Matt Letscher (left) as Joe Kennedy and Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in a still from Boardwalk Empire

Because men typically want to project a serious, businesslike demeanor when wearing tailored clothes, the two most popular pattern styles are not overly ornate, but are based on the simple geometry of the line: one of these styles being checks (which was the topic of a previous article) and the other stripes. These two basic patterns can create greater interest than simply wearing solids while still looking subdued and formal, though there is always the opportunity (or risk!) of making them quite bold.

Plaid and windowpane suits (with a chalk stripe in between) from 1936

Plaid and windowpane suits (with a chalk stripe in between) from 1936

What are Stripes?

Stripes are a series of parallel lines that do not cross each other. They are found in a variety of orientations in menswear; typically, suits and shirts feature vertical stripes, though horizontally striped garments do exist, as well. Additionally, neckwear and accessories (such as pocket squares or hat bands) may feature stripes in various orientations. Because of the lack of interaction between lines, striped patterns are simpler than checks, which also means they tend to be more reserved, and therefore more formal. Combinations of colors are often used to create differently named patterns, which we will discuss below.

Stripes 101: Broad Terminology

Before we dive headfirst into the pantheon of specific stripe styles that exist, it’s important that we go over some terminology. The following terms can be thought of as broad categories that apply to multiple striping patterns; you’ll find definitions for each of the examples listed further down in the article.

  • Self-Stripes

    A “self-stripe” is integral to the weave, rather than printed or otherwise added later. Seersucker is an example of a self-striped fabric.

  • Warp Stripes

    Vertical stripes created by changing the color or increasing the number of warp (vertical) yarns in a garment. Most menswear stripes – including pinstripes, chalk stripes, and candy stripes, among others – are examples.

  • Weft Stripes

    Horizontal stripes created by changing the weft (horizontal) yarns in a garment. These are less common than warp stripes.

Common Types of Stripes in Menswear

Common types of stripes in menswear; we’ll profile each of them below.

  • Balanced Stripes

    Symmetrically patterned, indicating that the background and stripe are equal in width. Usually refers to shirt fabrics. Bengal stripes are an example.

    • Unbalanced Stripes

      Asymmetrically patterned, indicating that the width of the stripe is either narrower or wider than that of the background and/or that the stripes are not spaced evenly. Pinstripes are an example.

  • Fancy Stripes

    Industry jargon for a weave or pattern that does not match any other specific definition; it may still generally be a balanced stripe, in some cases.

  • Jermyn Stripes (and other “street stripes”)

    Rather than a specific type of stripe, this is a broad reference to the style of bright, boldly striped shirt fabrics favored by custom shirtmakers located on or around Jermyn Street in London. Therefore, Jermyn Stripes may describe Bengal stripes, candy stripes, or any other traditional stripe style. Some patterns may also make reference to other well known retail streets in London, such as Bond Street.

Note: The two terms on the above list that are mutually exclusive are “warp stripe” and “weft stripe.” Phrased another way: all self-stripes are either warp or weft stripes, but not both. If stripes were introduced to both the warp and weft yarns of a garment, a check pattern would then be created.

Stripes in Suits and Shirts - 1936

Vintage fashion illustration from 1936 – note that stripes are a pleasing pattern for both suits and shirts.

Types of Stripes: Balanced

Simple Two-Tone Stripes (Narrowest to Widest)

  • Bengal Stripes

    A two-color vertical pattern, with the background and stripe being of equal width. A Bengal stripe is broader than a chalk stripe and narrower than a candy stripe. Commonly done in white and one other color. An example of a balanced stripe. The fabric was originally shipped to world markets from Bengal (Calcutta), India. The term is used to describe shirt fabrics, but never suit fabrics.

     

    Examples of Bengal Stripes in blue and goldenrod.

    An example of Bengal stripes in goldenrod.

  • Candy Stripes

    Equal-width stripes of a color and white on fabrics used for shirts and sportswear. A candy stripe is broader than a Bengal stripe, is usually done in white and one other color, and reminds many people of a candy cane.

    An example of candy stripes in blue.

    An example of candy stripes in blue.

  • Sandwich Stripes

    A nickname for a style of bold vertical stripes, usually about 0.5″ wide. Used to describe sports jackets, pants, and outerwear, but never shirts.

Sandwich Striped Jacket

Vintage fashion illustration from Esquire, April 1942 – This jacket featured sandwich stripes in alternating brown and natural (off-white) and was paired with flannel slacks in “brownstone” (a mixed weave of brown and grey).

  • Regency Stripes

    Vertical Stripes of equal width, most often associated in a historical context with Regency England. Like Bengal stripes, Regency stripes are often white alternating with another color, run vertically rather than horizontally, and can usually be classified as a balanced stripe. Unlike contemporary shirt stripes, however, Regency stripes are often rather oversized and can be as thick as an inch (or more).

    An example of regency stripes in light yellow.

    An example of regency stripes in light yellow.

  • Awning Stripes or Cabana Stripes

    Bold, vertical, balanced stripes that look like the material used for awnings and outdoor furniture, and are also commonly found in sportswear. Never used to describe shirt stripes.

    An example of awning stripes in forest green.

    An example of awning stripes in forest green.

  • Convict Stripes or Prison Stripes

    Extra-wide, black and white, horizontal stripes. The pattern was originally designed in the mid-18th century, with the idea of making escaped prisoners easily identifiable. Its use waned by the mid-20th century, by which point it was largely replaced by solid-color garments in orange or similar colors.

    A group of convicts in the Utah Penitentiary, 1880s.

    A group of convicts in the Utah Penitentiary, 1880s.

Multicolored and/or Textured Stripes

  • Rugby Stripes

    Horizontal stripes, similar in width to awning or prison stripes. Typically found on more informal shirts, especially those traditionally worn by rugby players (in which cases team colors would often be displayed). Common in either one color and white, or in two alternating colors. Also found as a pattern on knit ties (still in a horizontal orientation).

    • The two-color versions are sometimes accented with a slimmer white stripe as a sort of outline, thus technically making them unbalanced in such cases.
An example of a rugby stripe in navy and white.

An example of a rugby stripe in navy and white.

  • Track Stripes, Alternating Stripes, or Variegated Stripes

    A pattern in which the background color stays the same, but the color of the stripes does not. Frequently used in shirts.

    • Sometimes accented with single threads of another color (e.g. black) as a sort of outline, thus technically making them unbalanced in such cases.
An example of alternating stripes in blue and orange (with black outline).

An example of alternating stripes in blue and orange (with black outline).

  • Seersucker (fabric)

    A vertically striped fabric in which some of the stripes pucker, an effect created in the weaving process. In construction, selected warp (vertical) yarns are pulled tight, while others are left loose, creating seersucker’s distinctive texture. Most often made of cotton, it launders easily, needs no ironing, and masks wrinkles, making it ideal for summer garments. Another fabric, plissé, achieves a similar wrinkled texture through a chemical coating.

    Seersucker

    Seersucker fabric in green, illustrating its characteristic weave.

    • Hickory Stripe or Railroad Stripe (fabric)

      In the late 19th century, a type of heavyweight dark blue seersucker known as “hickory stripe” was used to make the overalls, jackets, and caps of train engineers and railroad workers. This cotton fabric was durable like denim and breathable like standard seersucker. Even today, some railroad companies incorporate this stripe into their uniforms.

Railroad stripe fabric, with penny included to show the size of the weave.

Railroad stripe fabric, with a penny included to show the size of the weave.

Types of Stripes: Unbalanced

Simple, Two-Tone Stripes (Narrowest to Widest)

  • Hairline Stripes

    Very narrow stripes (about the width of a hair), made by weaving single threads in color to contrast with the background. They are used mainly in fabrics for men’s shirts, neckwear, and other apparel. The term is principally used to describe shirt fabrics, and less commonly, suit fabrics.

    An example of hairline stripes in green.

    An example of hairline stripes in green.

  • Pinstripe or Banker’s Stripes

    Stripes that are the “width of a pin” (usually less than 1/16″ wide). The term is used to describe both shirt and suit fabrics, where the pattern is used frequently.

    An example of pinstripes in red.

    An example of pinstripes in red.

  • Pencil Stripes or Dress Stripes

    Fine stripes in men’s suit fabric, two or three warps wide, in a color to blend or contrast with the background. The stripes are roughly the width of a carpenter’s pencil mark (about 1/16″ inch). Wider than a pinstripe, but narrower than a chalk stripe. The term usually refers to shirt fabrics, and rarely describes suit fabrics.

    An example of pencil stripes in black.

    An example of pencil stripes in black.

  • Chalk Stripes

    Stripes in men’s suit fabric resembling tailor’s chalk lines. While previously used to describe a pattern of white or off-white stripes on the dark ground of cloth used for suits, the term is now used to refer to the size and style of the stripe in general. A chalk stripe can now be any color, but it is wider than both a pinstripe and a pencil stripe. The term is never used to describe shirt stripes.

    An example of chalk stripes in violet.

    An example of chalk stripes in violet.

    • Rope Stripes

      Note that you may sometimes see the term “rope stripe” to refer to a wider chalk stripe that resembles a rope; this definition is too subjective to be considered standard.

      An example of what might be called a "rope stripe," in teal.

      An example of what might be called a “rope stripe,” in teal.

  • Double Stripes, Triple Stripes, etc.

    A pattern of multiple pinstripes, pencil stripes, or other narrow stripes in proximity. Usually refers to shirt fabrics.

    An example of a double stripe; white on a blue background.

    An example of a double stripe; white on a blue background.

  • Multitrack Stripes

    A pattern mixing stripes of different “tracks,” or spacing. The term usually refers to shirt fabrics, and is rarely used to describe suit fabrics.

    An example of multitrack stripes, in varying shades of blue and grey.

    An example of multitrack stripes, in varying shades of blue and grey.

Multicolored Stripes

  • Blazer Stripes

    Wide, vertical stripes, like those used on older school and team blazers in England. Never used to describe shirt stripes.

    Rowing 1st Vlll Close up of the black & red striped blazers with gold piping & The King's School, Chester - Boys' 1st VIII impress

    Rowing 1st Vlll Close up of the black & red striped blazers with gold piping & The King’s School, Chester – Boys’ 1st VIII impress

  • Shadow Stripes

    Vertical stripes, usually narrow, bracketed or “shadowed” by lighter or smaller stripes on one or both sides. A classic shadow stripe features shadows which are variations on the main stripe color, but contemporary offerings feature shadows in different colors. This definition typically applies to shirt fabrics. The same term alternately refers to a self-striped fabric, where the shadows are created by yarns twisting in the opposite direction of the main stripes and are thus only visible in a certain light; this definition typically applies to hosiery and accessories.

    • Bar Stripes

      A type of shadow stripe where the contrasting smaller stripes symmetrically flank both sides of the main stripe.

An example of bar stripes, in alternating blue and orange, on a grey background.

An example of bar stripes, in alternating blue and orange, on a grey background.

  • Halo Stripes

    A pattern sometimes used in suit fabrics, which looks as though the center of a stripe is the same color as the background but is surrounded in another color in a “halo” or eclipse effect.

    An example of halo stripes. in indigo.

    An example of halo stripes. in indigo.

  • Regimental Stripes or Battalion Stripes

    Stripes in colors identified with various English military regiments and used in ties worn by their officers in civilian dress. The stripes range from 0.33″ to 1.5″ wide. In addition to authentic regimental stripes, similar colors and arrangements are used in neckwear in both England and the United States. The term is most properly used only in conjunction with neckties. Englishmen wear their ties so that the stripe slants from their left shoulder down toward the right; Americans go the opposite direction. The pattern became popular in England following WWI and then spread to America shortly thereafter, especially after Edward VIII visited the US in 1919.

    assorted repp ties

    Assorted ties with regimental stripes.

    • Collegiate Stripes and Club Stripes

      Contrasting stripes of bright and dark color, often in gray-yellow-red or gray-green-blue combinations. The pattern was popular in collegiate shirts in the late 1950s and was also worn to identify country/social clubs.

An example of collegiate stripes, in red and grey.

An example of collegiate stripes, in red and grey.

  • Grecian Stripes

    Figured stripes incorporating a Greek fret or similar design, spaced well apart. Used as a neckwear pattern.

    An example of Grecian stripes in grey.

    An example of Grecian stripes in grey.

  • Roman Stripes or Rainbow Stripes

    Bright stripes in groups of contrasting colors, usually running in the warp (lengthwise) direction.

    An example of Roman stripes, in various colors.

    An example of Roman stripes, in various colors.

  • Ombré Stripes

    Stripes incorporating the effect of an ombré (in other words, a shaded gradient), usually within the stripe itself, as opposed to the background.

    An example of ombré stripes; a green gradient on a black background.

    An example of ombré stripes; a green gradient on a black background.

Textured Stripes

  • Broken Stripes

    A pattern, usually for suit fabric, that appears to be made up of solid, chalk-type stripes from a distance, but upon closer inspection, resembles a series of aligned dashes.

    An example of broken stripes in blue.

    An example of broken stripes in blue.

    • Beaded Stripes

      A subset of broken stripes wherein the stripes resemble dots rather than dashes.

An example of beaded stripes; grey on a dark charcoal background.

An example of beaded stripes; grey on a dark charcoal background.

  • Satin Stripes

    A pattern of alternating shiny and matte stripes created by the fabric’s weave. Popular for dress shirts made of fine cotton, a “satin stripe” may describe any width or color of stripe(s), but usually features a solid color with a contrasting weave.

    Satin stripes in white, presented at an angle to show how light affects the design.

    Satin stripes in white, presented at an angle to show how light affects the design.

  • Morning Stripes, Cashmere Stripes, or Spongebag

    While there are numerous variations of striped trousers for formal daywear (or “morning dress”), the signature choice is the “cashmere stripe.” Trousers are sometimes called “spongebags” when featuring this pattern; this is because the pattern has a very close resemblance to traditional spongebags, or dopp kits. Note that tailors call this pattern “cashmere stripe” even though the trousers are not made of cashmere at all!

    A closeup view of the classic morning stripe.

    A closeup view of the classic morning stripe.

  • Ticking Stripes

    Any of several simple vertical stripe patterns, usually blue and white or black and white, that resembles mattress ticking. Such patterns are popular for shirt fabrics, as well as denim and canvas.

    An example of ticking stripes in black.

    An example of ticking stripes in black.

Honorable Mentions

  • Madras Stripes

    While the fabric known as madras more holistically features a plaid, checked, or otherwise geometric pattern, some garments will feature striped sections as well. In these cases, said stripes (typically wide cabana-style stripes that are light in color and not necessarily balanced) can be referred to as “madras stripes.”

    An example of what might be called "madras stripes," in grey.

    An example of what might be called “madras stripes,” in grey.

  • Wallpaper Print

    Style of print that has a vertical emphasis (either a stylized stripe or simply a vertically arranged pattern) and a fanciful or flowery decoration in the manner of old-fashioned wallpaper. Used to describe shirts.

    An example of a wallpaper print which incorporates stripes into its design.

    An example of a wallpaper print which incorporates stripes into its design. Most likely used as actual wallpaper and not for shirts – hopefully!

  • Mille Stripe (fabric)

    A finely striped fabric that looks like a solid from a short distance, because the fabric is striped almost thread by thread (actually, the stripes are usually formed by groups of two or three threads, and a true thread-by-thread stripe is known as an end-on-end). The term refers to shirt fabrics, never to suit fabrics.

    An example of mille stripes in red.

    An example of mille stripes in red.

  • End-on-End (fabric)

    A type of fabric, most often used for shirts, constructed so that the warp (vertical) yarn alternates color. Typically alternates between blue and white yarns, giving a faintly striped or textured appearance to the final fabric.

    An example of end-on-end weaving, with various stripes incorporated.

    An example of end-on-end weaving, with actual stripes also incorporated in this case.

How Do You Wear Stripes?

In the world of tailored clothing, stripes can be worn in many ways, but the choice depends on your personality and how much you like loud, bold patterns in your wardrobe.

Shirts

Striped shirts are usually a safe choice. If you want something restrained that pairs easily with a tie, a standard two-tone stripe, such as a Bengal stripe, is a good option. Even safer would be a pencil stripe or hairline stripe, in that these stripes of a very small scale can read as solids from a distance. Moving toward smart casual or business casual, try a candy stripe with a more muted, solid tie. For totally casual, tieless looks, choose candy stripes or Regency stripes in warm weather and multitrack stripes for winter.

Bernhard Roetzel wearing a striped shirt, muted knit tie, and grey windowpane suit

Bernhard Roetzel wearing a Bengal striped shirt, muted knit tie, and grey windowpane suit

On the other hand, if you want to forget about playing it safe, go for a striped shirt with a striped jacket. It’s important to remember in this case that the sizes of the stripes on each garment should differ greatly (for example, a pencil-striped shirt with a sandwich-striped jacket). If the “density” of the patterns is too similar, they will not appear harmonious to the eye. Similarly, consider how prominent the pattern of your shirt is when choosing a tie. Solid color ties are a safe choice, but you could also try a tie that has a stripe of a different scale (regimental stripes, for example), or features a different type of pattern altogether.

Esquire May 1938 - Multiple Paired Stripes

Vintage fashion illustration from Esquire, May 1938 – Note the striped patterns in the tie, shirt, and suit.

Jackets

Stripes on a jacket can sometimes be a bold statement, though not always; generally, the broader the stripe, the bolder the effect. For example, if a jacket features brightly colored sandwich, awning, or blazer stripes, it will come across much more aggressively than one made up of muted pinstripes. Keep this in mind when choosing a jacket, and remember: try on a few options to compare their effects on your frame. For instance, a fine white pinstripe on a navy suit jacket remains conservative, but a cabana-striped summer sports coat or one with Roman stripes would be quite loud.  If there are bright colors or many colors, the jacket obviously becomes bolder. A navy hairline stripe on a grey jacket is easy to wear, but a pencil stripe would require more careful consideration.

full canvas vintage rowing blazer made in England with red knit tie by Fort Belvedere

Full-canvas vintage rowing blazer (made in England) with red knit tie by Fort Belvedere

Whatever you choose, one thing you will notice with a striped jacket is how it creates the impression of a longer torso. Tailored menswear has always sought to flatter the male form through added visual suggestion; vertical lines over the chest draw the gaze upward. As a general practice, pair your patterned jacket (if it is not part of a suit) with solid trousers, to avoid clashing patterns. Regarding your choice of tie, you can follow two options of layering and either wear a solid tie or go pattern-on-pattern, which requires more skill.

Rowing Blazers at Henley Royal Regatta, England

Rowing blazers (with blazer stripes) worn with plain trousers – Henley Royal Regatta, England

Suits

Stripes are not as inherently bold as checks, and can be worn with slightly greater latitude in suits (as evidenced by the rich history of pinstripes and chalk stripes in white-collar professions). Therefore, their acceptability depends on the dress code of your office and how much you want to be noticed. Suits with broader chalk stripes (or “rope stripes”) are more risky, as the loud pattern can easily make your outfit look more like a costume. Italian style tends to be bolder in making use of striped suits, especially ones with regularly spaced patterns, but they are still difficult to carry off.

Chalk stripe suit with navy tie and White Irish Linen Embroidered Contrast Framing Pocket square

Chalk stripe suit with navy tie and White Irish Linen Embroidered Contrast Framing Pocket square

Overcoats

It is said that things you can’t get away with in a jacket, like large peak lapels and aggressive textures, are acceptable with an overcoat. The same goes for stripes. Even so, however, bold, wide stripes on an overcoat should be avoided, as when combined with a long, buttoned overcoat, you will appear to onlookers as one giant mass of large stripes. Instead, opt for a more reserved stripe, similar to one found on a well-made suit. Though always a statement, a subtly striped overcoat, worn with an otherwise reserved outfit, is likely to garner more style compliments than other garments that would be considered loud.

Double Breasted Overcoat without scarf and popped collar - a very common trend at Pitti

A striped, double-breasted overcoat, collar popped, worn only with a shirt – a very common trend at Pitti Uomo.

Pants

As mentioned above, striped pants worn with a plain jacket (either a cutaway coat or lounge coat) are a staple of proper morning dress. Outside of formal daywear, however, striped pants are somewhat less common as a standalone garment than their checked (or differently patterned) brethren. As such, those pairs that do exist often feature wider patterns in bright colors, and would best be characterized in such cases as a type of “go-to-hell pants” and worn in the same way, as a statement.

Duke & Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day in morning dress

The Duke of Windsor in formal trousers with morning stripes on his wedding day, 1937.

Waistcoats

A great option for wearing stripes in tailoring is a waistcoat. The waistcoat has traditionally been a means of introducing bold color or pattern, adding personality and a sense of fun under a more conservative suit. Whereas bold pants are an in-your-face defiance of convention, bold waistcoats are almost expected, and you can match a color in the pattern with that of your jacket.

Subtle Striped Waistcoat

A waistcoat with a very subtle stripe, worn with a much bolder paisley tie and a shirt with a slight pattern.

Accessories

As is usually the case with any bold colors or patterns, accessories are a good place to start with stripes because they represent a relatively small dose of the pattern, and can integrate a bit of interest without becoming visually overwhelming. The most commonly represented stripes on neckties are hairline stripes, colored shadow stripes, and regimental stripes (all most often at a diagonal, though the first two of these can sometimes be vertical or horizontal).  Multitrack stripes can be a good choice for casual ties, and wooly winter ties gain subtle interest from a fabric-style shadow stripe.

JFK with father and brother wearing adark on light chalk stripe with striped knit tie and collar pin

Joseph Kennedy, Sr. (center), with sons John and Joseph, Jr. Young JFK wears a horizontally striped tie (and a chalk stripe suit), while his father’s tie features a wide club stripe.

In drab winter weather, a striped scarf can be a terrific option as well, lending interest and excitement when colors are more muted. Meanwhile, in summer, outfitting a straw hat with a striped band can up your sporty sprezzatura.

Green & Blue Paisley & Stripes Double Sided Wool Silk Scarf by Fort Belvedere

A double-sided wool-silk scarf by Fort Belvedere – this side features blue and yellow bar stripes on a green background.

 

Boater Hats for summer

A selection of straw boaters, each with a multicolored, striped band.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has cleared up the distinctions among the various forms of striped fabrics available in menswear. With this information and a bit of practice, you should be able to name a stripe style on sight and even identify hybrid combinations that blend the features of more than one kind of stripe (for example, an alternating end-on-end pattern). Stripes are a versatile pattern style that can either tend toward the casual and evoke a sporting heritage, or be right at home in more formal settings–featured in the wardrobes of everyone from resort-goers to bankers.  This wide range of possibilities speaks well to the versatility of stripes in your wardrobe, as they are amenable to being dressed up or down. Overall, one thing’s for sure–if you do your homework, it’s not hard to earn your stripes.

How do you like to wear striped patterns? Tell us in the Comments section.


Gentleman’s Gazette

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How to Wear Pink in Menswear

Thanks to corporate marketing initiatives in the mid-20th century, pink is entrenched in the minds of most Americans as a distinctly feminine color. So how can men best wear it?

Blue is for boys and pink is for girls is a common perception around the globe. However, pink is a supremely versatile color and should receive more play in the masculine wardrobe. In this article from our series on wearing different colors in menswear, we’ll discuss the history of pink in menswear, and when, where, what and how to wear pink successfully.

Pink Patterns - Photo by fabriziodipaoloph

A dandyish outfit comprised of three pink-based patterns – Photo by fabriziodipaoloph

A Brief History of Pink in Men’s Fashion

For a long time in the history of the West, pink was not associated with one particular sex or gender. Opinions on whether to dress a newborn in blue, pink or some other color varied by region or country. However, coding by color began to take hold in the mid-20th century when American companies began marketing pink items for girl children and blue for boys.

Until last century, boys wore dress-like garments in their early years. Pink was also a color associated for a long time with male children.

Until the last century, pink was also a color associated with male children, like the boy above, who also wore dress-like garments until they reached a certain age.

Within a few decades, the equivalence of pink with women was established, so that even now, articles on pink for men are always bound up with considerations of gender. Sure, during “Pinktober” men in the US, including players from the National Football League, that most macho of sports, wear a lot of pink to spread breast cancer awareness. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is followed by “Movember,” which re-establishes masculinity by promoting the growth of facial hair for the whole month! Indeed, men’s brands often market pink items variously as red, crimson,  and other names rather than calling them pink for fear that they won’t sell otherwise.

Light Pink summer blazer

Light pink summer blazer

Meanwhile, The Independent proclaims that “menswear is borrowing from the girls” in its use of pink while an article in The Telegraph asks “Are you man enough to wear pink?” Inevitably these articles tout that you are actually more manly if you wear pink because it shows you are secure enough in your masculinity to do so. A recent scientific study also shows that women actually do prefer pink but because of this, they also love men who wear pink and find them more attractive. Whatever makes you feel confident wearing it, I guess, though for me, choosing pink is, first of all, an aesthetic decision: it simply looks good with certain colors.

Pink Double Breasted Seersucker with Boater Hat via Dandy Portraits

Dr. Andre Chruchwell in a Pink Double Breasted Seersucker with Boater Hat via Dandy Portraits

In any case, gender associations surrounding pink exist mainly in North America. In India, men wear pink all the time. In the UK, you’re likely to see pink shirts more widely represented with suits and ties among bankers and other businessmen. There, men who wear pink area have been found to earn £1000 more a year than those who don’t.

Shahrukh Khan wearing pink

Bollywood megastar Shahrukh Khan wearing a pink shirt

How to Wear Pink

Pink Winchester Shirt & Grey Suit

An elegant fall or winter combination composed of a gray notched-lapel suit, a pink Winchester shirt, a pink pocket square, and beige gloves.

When Can You Wear Pink?

While pink may first be associated with the brighter color palette of spring and summer, it is a wonderful year-round color if you choose the most complementary shade for the season and your outfit.

Bright shades of pink are ideal for spring and summer, while muted shades of pink can be worn year round. In the warmer seasons, you can experiment with wearing pink as the dominant shade in your outfits, such as a pink blazer or pants, while in winter, pink makes for an interesting color for a shirt or an accessory, such as socks.

Which Tone of Pink Should You Wear?

In terms of the color spectrum, pink is a very interesting color. According to science, it technically doesn’t exist, because if we look at a rainbow or light refracted from a prism, there is no pink visible in it. Red is the first color in the rainbow and violet the last–remember ROYGBIV? Pink occupies the blank space between red and violet, which includes all the light waves we can’t see (infrared, ultraviolet), so our eyes invent pink to fill in that gap. In a simple practical sense, however, the color we see as pink is created by mixing red and white. Still, it can be dark or light and either tend toward peach (if it contains undertones of yellow) or fuchsia/mauve (if it contains more blue or purple).

Ten Shades of Pink

Ten Shades of Pink

Generally, for men (and, I would argue, for anyone), lighter pinks are preferable in either tone (the first three colors on the bottom left of the image above). Brighter pinks are loud and dominate an outfit. Assessing where a pink item of clothing lies along the range of tones is important if you plan to coordinate with a second pink or even with other colors; for example, a pocket square that contains a salmon pink will not go well with a tie that is peach pink, and some variants of pink may look better with particular blues while others may make blue look more purple.

Pink Blazer, Shorts and Bag

Nick Wooster wearing electric pink

For those who are resistant to wearing pink or who want to be creative in creating the color, try a pattern that contains red and white, like a white shirt with thin red stripes or a red and white herringbone tie. When these two colors appear side by side in a tight pattern, they will read to the eye as pink.

Herringbone Wool Red and Off-White Bow Tie Handmade by Fort Belvedere

Depending on how it’s combined, this Herringbone Wool Red and Off-White Bow Tie by Fort Belvedere can read as pink or muted red

Ultimately, the choice of which pink to choose depends on your complexion if you are getting a shirt or sport coatas these articles of clothing place the color in proximity to your face. If you have brown skin, most pinks will work for you. If you have a lighter complexion, pink still looks best if you have a tan. Fortunately, pink is most suitable as a warm weather color because of its brightness, so you can work on tanning beforehand. If you aren’t tan,  a large stretch of pink near your face will bring out any pink spots or blotches and emphasize them more.

Pairing Pink with Other Colors

Pink is a great choice because it pairs well with all the major menswear colors–namely gray, blue, and brown–and then some. Pink and gray–from light gray to charcoal–are ready companions, such as in the form of a pink tie with a gray suit. If you have gray hair, pink will also be your friend, perhaps as a pink shirt. In the shoulder season between winter and spring or summer and fall, pink can succeed with burgundy or maroon. Combining these cool weather hues with pink makes for an apt transition between seasons.

Pink and brown pairings

The author in two simple pairings of subtle pink with brown: a pink linen tie and a pink cotton pocket square with white border; pink linen striped shirt.

My personal favorite color to wear with pink is brown. A pink summer tie with a brown linen jacket is a terrific choice. Pink and blue also feature together frequently but need a little more caution.

Especially when it is worn with mid-blue rather than navy, pink can make the blue appear more indigo or violet, shifting it toward the purple part of the color spectrum. This isn’t necessarily bad, but be aware of the interaction.

Caesar Romero as The Joker

How to wear and not wear pink and green. Caesar Romero as The Joker at left

A bold pairing that isn’t seen that often is pink and green, which are complementary on the color wheel, though an abundance of caution is needed lest you end up looking like the Joker as played by Caesar Romero. As usual, moderation is the key. Try olive green and a light pink instead of neon.

Gianni Fontana in an outfit dominated by green plaids. Just the jacket or the coat work well but not both together

Gianni Fontana’s choice of olive green and pink is a winning combination, though one plaid is enough in any given combination

Lastly, in summer, pink and white are a winning combination; after all, pink is made with red and white, and that white undertone can bring together a pair of white pants and a pink shirt.

Pink shirt white pants

IAmGalla pairing a subtle pink shirt with white pants for a summery look

What to Wear in Pink

Pink Shirts

The easiest way to add pink to your wardrobe would be a shirt. Make it fairly light; that way you get enough of the color to make an impression but not to overwhelm. The history of the pink shirt as part of classic style is, admittedly, a short one, as is the history of any colored shirt or any shirt with a pattern for that matter. Originally, all shirts used with tailoring were white (or off-white, depending on how bad your washing was). Stripes were originally shunned for their association with the lower classes, sin, and the Devil then maintained negative class connotations for some time. Colored shirts, similarly, were associated with manual labor (thus, the term “blue-collar workers” based on the denim or chambray shirts they wore). So, no gentleman would wear anything other than a solid white shirt. However, as norms of dress relaxed or were defied, colored shirts began to creep in.

Canali pale pink dress shirt

This Canali pale pink dress shirt is understated

Sources usually credit Brooks Brothers for introducing pink dress shirt for men in the early 1900s, but it only took off in the post-War ’40s as part of a burgeoning defiance of norms and part of the Ivy-style movement. Consider wearing it under a sports coat or suit jacket, which tames the color and minimizes the interplay of the color with your skin tone. With a polo shirt, on the other hand, the color is your “top layer” and the pink has a more potent impact–it can dominate as the focus of attention and also clash more with some skin tomes unless you wear a polo with a jacket (not usually recommended). With that said, you have more leeway for bright colors in warm weather, so a light pink polo in the heat of summer is still a possibility, but start out with pink long-sleeved shirts under a jacket.

Pink Accessories

White and pink Fort Belvedere pocket square

A white Irish linen pocket square with pink details from Fort Belvedere.

If you don’t want to go big to start, accessories are a great way to add pink to an outfit. The smallest dose can come in the form of a pocket square that contains a little of the color, either as a border along with several others in a paisley. A larger splash can be achieved with a pink boutonniere in your jacket lapel. There are a number of naturally pink flowers, including the most popular for buttonholes: carnations and roses.

A pink carnation boutonniere from Fort Belvedere.

A pink carnation boutonniere from Fort Belvedere.

Around the same size, you can go with a pocket square that is mostly pink, perhaps with a white or cream border. Lastly, consider a pink tie, but avoid ones that are shiny. If you get a printed silk tie in pink, try one that contains other colors, maybe in the form of a geometric pattern or stripes. Solid pink linen or raw silk ties (shantung, tussah) are great for the summer because their texture and matte finish tame any potential gaudiness.

Fort Belvedere pink linen tie

A textured light pink linen tie from Fort Belvedere

Pink Sport Coats and Suits

More daring than even the pink shirt is the pink sport coat, as it puts the color front and center as your top layer of clothing. This is definitely a summer look with a Neapolitan vibe, and something containing linen will likely be your fabric choice.

A red and white micro-patterned jacket from Boggi Milano that looks like a mauve pink.

Riskiest of all is an entirely pink suit, which is exceedingly rare outside the confines of Pitt Uomo and remakes of the Great Gatsby. The most famous wearer is the fictional Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgrerald’s novel. In the book, the suit gets merely a passing reference. Gatsby’s rival, Tom Buchanan, is told that Gatsby is an Oxford man, to which he exclaims “Like hell he is! He wears a pink suit.” Again, the color is noted as being unconventional, a sign that Gatsby is “new money.” Despite occupying only a small space in the written text, the pink suit features strongly in both the Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio film adaptations. Note how DiCaprio’s Gatsby is styled in the lightest possible shade of pink though with faded stripes. The overall impression is American, specifically Southern, rather than Italian, similar to the effect of wearing a red and white striped seersucker suit.

The pink striped suits with cuffs

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby in a pink striped suit

Pink Socks

While we at the Gentleman’s Gazette are not fans of crazy socks, you can certainly add a dash of personality and color to an outfit with pink and gray shadow stripe socks from Fort Belvedere, which remain conservative enough for work. The inclusion of gray striping suggests an essential pairing of these socks with any suit from light gray to charcoal.

Pink and grey Fort Belvedere socks

Pink and gray shadow-stripe socks from Fort Belvedere

As far as pink suede shoes or sneakers go, give them a wide berth. They’re just too fashion oriented and obviously showy. However, to casualize an otherwise tailored look, try replacing the brown or black laces on a pair of brogues with pink dress shoelaces as a very inexpensive way to perk things up.

Conclusion

As our society moves toward eliminating gender stereotypes, the possibilities for men of wearing pink have opened up and the color has gained traction in classic men’s style. Of course, many gents have long ignored the gender politics of pink and wear the color boldly. As with any new color, you can start small with pink accessories or dive in feet first with a pink shirt or jacket. Either way, you’ll discover how surprisingly well pink combines with other colors.

Do you wear pink as part of your traditional men’s style? What are your opinions on the color pink?


Gentleman’s Gazette

MEN FASHION DEAL UPDATE:

Look like a Gentleman, Travel in Style and Enjoy the Best in Men’s Accessories at Hook & Albert. Get 20% Off Your First Order with Coupon Code TAKE20. Shop Now!