Looking to incorporate stripes into your wardrobe? This guide will give you all the outfit ideas you need.
If you’re looking to break away from solid colors, stripes are a great entry level pattern. They’re geometric, look great on most guys, and are pretty straightforward to wear and combine.
They can be your bold statement or a subtle detail, and they also play well with most of the other pieces you probably already have in your closet.
Vertical or Horizontal Stripes: What Are the Best Stripes for Men?
We’re going to stick to the vertical and horizontal stripes for this guide. You can find plenty of other stripe designs, but we’ll focus on these two because they’re widely available.
If you’re shorter and wider in stature, vertical stripes are going to help elongate and slim you down. Vertical stripes make the eye travel up and down the length of the stripe.
These are best on suits, trousers, and button downs, but you can make them work on most pieces.
Keep the stripe width of the actual pattern slim if you’re going for the lengthening visual effect.
Horizontal stripes for men can have a widening effect. If that’s something you’re sensitive to, try layering them or varying the width of the stripes. It’s easier to play with stripe width in the pattern when they run horizontally.
These stripes tend to be a better fit for casual styling. You’ll most often see them in a blue and white color combination, also giving them a more nautical look.
How to Wear Stripes
For this guide, we’ll break it down into casual, smart/business casual, and formal looks to help build a variety for you. When I say formal, think business formal and not black tie formal.
I’ll also share outfits with different stripe orientations (directions), and I’ll note when you can switch in vertical for horizontal stripes or vice versa.
Casual Outfit Ideas
Casual outfits are always the easiest to style with bolder patterns because you have a lot more freedom. It’s the best way to start experimenting with a print like stripes if you’re new to the pattern game.
We’ll start simple here and gradually build in some layers and other elements.
#1 Tee and shorts
Make this one easy on yourself. Just switch in one of your solid t-shirts for a striped shirt.
If you keep the shorts a solid neutral color, you can choose any color of stripes. This is also a look where you can choose horizontal or vertical stripes.
Bonus styling tip: try tucking in your tee and adding a belt for structure and detail in your outfit.
#2 Polo and Shorts/Chinos
This is another easy switch. Take a striped polo and pair it with your go to solid color shorts or chinos.
Your polo doesn’t have to be covered in stripes. Barron’s just has a few across the chest for a focal point.
Horizontal stripes work best here. Vertical ones on just the top half can look a little circus tent-like depending on the width of the stripe.
#3 Striped Shorts
You don’t have to limit yourself to stripes on top. Striped shorts are a great way to add the pattern into your outfit. Depending on the length of your shorts, they make it a little easier to break into the pattern since they take up less space.
Keep your shirt solid here like I did to stay simple. You can choose a neutral or contrasting color.
Try tucking the shirt here as well if you’d like to highlight the striped pattern on the shorts.
#4 Striped Trousers
If you’re feeling adventurous, go for striped trousers with a plain t-shirt. It’s definitely a statement look.
I kept the tee and shoes simple to avoid competing with the pants and overcomplicating the outfit.
#5 Striped Tee and Jeans
A t-shirt and jeans always looks good. No reason that a striped tee can’t work with denim.
You don’t have to go right to white denim if that’s too much for you. I do encourage you to try some lighter denim for a more casual look.
You can check out How to Wear Light Wash Jeans (17 Outfit Ideas for Guys) for more denim ideas.
#6 Casual Button Down and Denim
This is a classic combo with a bit of a retro feel. Just switch in your go-to button down with a striped one.
Vertical stripes tend to look better on button downs, so try starting there. You can also experiment with styling the shirt untucked, tucked, and even half tucked to give you multiple options from one look.
#7 Open Button Down
One of the easiest ways to style stripes is with a short sleeve button down shirt. They’re usually bolder in their design anyway.
If you keep the button down open and the rest of your outfit simple, you create a nice focal point with the shirt.
#8 Striped Tee and Button Down
You can also do some light layering for a casual look. Pairing a striped tee with an open button down and denim is a nice casual date outfit.
I chose boots here, but you can also go for
#9 Striped Sweater
They do in fact make striped sweaters. Knits are getting a lot more variety to them.
My recommendation is to go with horizontal stripes on a sweater. The thicker the actual sweater, the wider you can go with the stripe pattern. Thicker sweaters don’t need to be form fitting.
You can pair this with earth tone or neutral chinos or your favorite denim.
#10 Rugby Style Polo
Rugby Polos are a style all their own, usually incorporating thicker wide stripes and a contrasting color.
They do have some great structure to them and are a good casual option.
#11 Denim Jacket
Stripes are a great base layer and will pair well with your outerwear. It’s a nice detail to add to your layered outfits instead of a solid shirt.
Even though I went with horizontal stripes for this outfit, this is one where you can switch in vertical stripes as well. Since the jacket covers much of the pattern, the visual effect of each type of stripe is minimal, which gives you more freedom.
#12 Field Jacket
The field jacket is one of the easiest light layers to pair with bolder patterns. It’s got some structure and usually comes in neutral colors that help taim the pattern.
I chose a vertical striped shirt here in purple that contrasts with the green field jacket, but you can opt for horizontal stripes or either version in a t-shirt as well.
#13 Striped Bomber Jacket
You also have a choice in making your outerwear the striped pattern element. This makes a good finishing touch on simple outfit
I kept everything else simple and let the jacket carry the striped pattern. It’s not too overwhelming and works well here.
#14 Matching Sets
Matching sets have become popular in the last year or so. They make your decision easy and come in a variety of colors and patterns, including stripes.
If you’re going to go this route, keep the base layer, like the t-shirt in this case, simple. This is one where you can choose vertical or horizontal stripes for the set.
#15 Pattern Mixing
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can venture into pattern mixing territory. It’s a fun way to experiment with your style.
You can see here I connected all the patterns with color and let the stripes peek out from the shirt. I also kept the scale of each pattern in mind. The floral print is much larger and makes the stripes and seersucker pants act like more simple neutral pieces.
Color is a great through line for these kinds of looks.
#16 Stripe Mixing
You can also mix your stripes, but this can be trickier than just the pattern mixing.
I used colors to match these pieces and got lucky with how close they were. This is not a set.
If you don’t have pieces that match this closely, think about scale, color and orientation. Pair a wide stripe pattern with a slimmer one.
I don’t recommend pairing horizontal and vertical stripes. That usually creates some unfortunate visual effects.
Smart/Business Casual Outfit Ideas
The smarter or more formal you start to go with your outfits, the tamer the stripe pattern becomes. That means either choosing skinnier stripe options or using it as a smaller detail in the overall outfit.
These will incorporate some more office appropriate suggestions. Let’s review a few options:
#1 Tee or Polo with Trousers
The key to make this a smarter look is tucking in your tee or polo and making sure the trouser is structured more like a suit pant.
Fit is always a big part of making an outfit feel smarter. A tailored trouser that fits you well will “smarten” up your striped tee.
You can also flip this outfit and go with a plain tee or polo and a striped tailored trouser.
#2 Striped Suit Separates
You can take striped suit separates and pair them with other solid pieces to create a smart casual look.
The bolder the stripe, the more casual this will go. I chose a bold striped trouser with this tee and blazer. You can reverse this and go for a striped suit jacket or blazer as well.
You’ll also notice that most striped suits are going to have vertical stripes. With suit structure, the vertical stripes will be more flattering than horizontal stripes. You can keep the rest of your pieces simple here.
#3 Blazer and Striped Shirt
Throw a blazer over your striped tee or button down. Tucking in the shirt and pairing this with suit separates or denim will give you a smart casual look.
If you’re choosing this look, keep the blazer or suit jacket simple like Barron did. A navy or a grey will work great.
#4 Striped Accessories
Ties and pocket squares are a great way to add a little bit of the stripe detail without overpowering a look.
This is great if you’re just venturing into wearing stripes. You don’t have to be as concerned with width or orientation of the stripes because they’ll end up being a smaller piece of the whole look.
Try to match the stripe colors to your outfit to have some connection between the pattern and the rest of your outfit.
#5 Striped Shirt and Cardigan
Pairing your striped shirt with a simple, thin cardigan is a perfect way to elevate the shirt without going too formal. This will work for a business casual setting.
A solid color cardigan will work best for this outfit.
#6 Button Down and Striped Trousers
If you’re looking to switch it up, go for striped trousers with a solid color button down.
This is still office appropriate and definitely a little bolder than your normal attire. Get the fit on your shirt and trousers right to make sure this works.
Business Formal Outfit Ideas
One of the reasons that a striped pattern is so great is because of its versatility. You can go from the most casual outfits to ones that are ready for important meetings.
We’ll go through some more business formal outfit variations in this section.
#1 Single Breasted Pinstripe Suit
A pinstripe suit is a classic business formal outfit. The pinstripe is subtle but adds some unique detail to the overall look.
Choosing a shirt that matches the color of the pinstripe will help the stripes pop a little more.
#2 Double Breasted Pinstripe Suit
A double breasted suit, in my opinion, is just a bit more formal. It also adds some great structure to the jacket.
Keep the shirt simple. Adding more pattern or more stripes outside of the pinstripe actually makes the look less formal.
#3 Three-Piece Pinstripe Suit
The most formal you can go with a striped pattern is a three-piece suit. It’s a simple pattern, but the thin vertical stripes bring good uniqueness to the whole outfit.
You can also break this suit up into separates and style them differently using the striped pattern. It’s a benefit of going for a three-piece.
#4 Striped Dress Shirt
You can still pair a striped dress shirt with your suit and keep things formal.
Brock’s shirt, while striped, becomes almost a solid color because the stripes are thin. The pattern doesn’t take anything away from the formal feel of the suit.
What Makes Stripes Formal?
The thinner the stripe pattern, the more formal it is. Obviously, this depends on the garment too. If your suit has a wider stripe or bolder pattern, it’s not going to be able to work in business formal settings.
The thin pinstripe becomes a neutral part of the outfit, which makes it more formal.
How Do You Wear Stripes?
Stripes are a perfect pattern to start with if you’re new to bold styling. A few striped pieces can help you cover the spectrum of casual to formal styling.
You do get more styling options with casual outfits because there’s more room to play, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore your options.
I hope this guide inspired you to try new striped styles for yourself.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below!
Paul Maxwell says
I bought a light blue striped seersucker jacket recently – great way to rock stripes. I wear it with a chambray shirt, chinos and desert boots.
Ron Krajenbrink says
That dark blue short sleeve shirt with white stripes looks fantastic