As summer approaches, let us persuade you of the powers of a bright and bold stripe.
In winter, the shirt has something of a thankless task. Invariably buried deep beneath the numerous layers which sit atop it – Shetland wool, tweed, waxed cotton, cashmere – the humble shirt takes on an unglamorous role of pure functionality, seeing very little daylight for the duration of the colder months. For this reason, a man’s shirt choices at this time of year inevitably tend to err on the conservative side: solid colour oxford cloths, fine striped poplins, and washed chambrays.
Once the temperatures begin to rise, however, and those layers are discarded, the shirt slowly emerges once again, reclaiming its central role in one’s outfit. This sudden visibility affords one far more choice, and the ability to be a touch more daring. After all, what good is a jazzy shirt if no one will see it?
This season, our shirt selection trades in bold stripes and breezy candy colours, redolent of warmer climes. These are not shirts to be hidden beneath countless layers, but rather to be shown off proudly, to be allowed to form an outfit’s focal point. Wear one with a pair of tailored linen trousers, for example, or some cotton chinos – you can afford to keep it simple, and let the shirt do most of the heavy lifting in the style stakes.
The reason these stripes have such a striking effect is more to do with proportions than anything else. The colour palette – though light and summery, with pale rosy pinks and fresh peppermint greens – is gentle and subdued. It is the breadth of the stripes that grant them an impressive quality, allowing them to be at once classic and timeless, while invariably drawing the eye. Though a narrower ticking stripe is one of the most indispensable shirt cloths around, a wider stripe suggests an undeniable masculine elegance, combined with a touch of playfulness. It says that the wearer knows how to get dressed, but that they don’t take the act of dressing too seriously. It’s a look that’s reminiscent of holidaymakers on the French Riviera in the 1950s; of David Hockney or Mick Jagger in the 1960s.
A striped shirt is a certified warm-weather essential, so evoke some mid-century elegance in your summer wardrobe and opt for the bolder, broader stripe, in a bright and breezy palette. You may never wear a pinstripe again.