Stripes&styles, 5 “unbalanced stripes” perfect for men’s striped shirts


Our trip through the variegated world of striped shirts continues with a new chapter in the Stripes&styles feature. After starting with the 3 most common two-colour variants, we’re focusing this time on the “unbalanced” versions.

This means the ones that have alternate wide and narrow stripes.

1 Hairline Stripes, as fine as a strand of hair

The narrowest of all, about one hairsbreadth, are the hairline stripes, very popular in men’s shirt fabrics and also in ties and other menswear garments. These types of striped shirts are characterized by a weave that incorporates individual threads to contrast with the background colour.

2 Banker’s Stripes, when pinstripes are to be depended on

This is perhaps the type of stripes that are most famous in men’s shirts (as well as in other garments): pinstripes. Also called “banker’s stripes”, they are stripes that correspond to the width of a pin. The term may describe both shirt fabrics and those for suits, in which the pinstripe pattern recurs very often as it has always been a symbol of elegance and professionalism.

There are, in turn, three different variants of the pinstripe: there’s the real pinstripe, comprising a succession of small dots, which then go to form the line; the chalk stripe, when the chalk traces a continuous line; and the cable stripe, where little dashes, placed diagonally, form the line.

3 Pencil Stripes, a safe choice with any combination

Pencil stripes or dress stripes are the stripes used in men’s shirt fabrics to contrast with the background or in a soft colour. Their unusual name derives from the width, approximately the same as that of a carpenter’s pencil mark: these stripes are broader than pinstripes but narrower than chalk stripes.

4 Double & Triple Stripes, for those who want some movement

In certain men’s shirt fabrics we can find grouped alongside each other two, three or more fine lines such as pencil stripes or others with similar widths, usually on tones of white or anyway contrasting with the background. 

5 Multitrack stripes, perfect for winter

Finally, when we’re dealing with striped shirts we can also find a pattern that mixes stripes of different widths or “tracks”: these are the so-called “multitracks”. This solution is conventionally considered perfect for the colder months; it’s the ideal choice for those who are not fans of fixed patterns and seek the right dose of colour vibrancy.

Then again, in the world of shirt manufacture, there’s a type of pattern that more or less links the balanced and the unbalanced stripes: this is the Track Stripes. We recognize this in the fact that different coloured stripes alternate on the same background colour, and their edges are often outlined in single contrasting threads. In this way the colour bands, technically all the same width, appear in fact to be asymmetrical.

And what about other types of stripes that are popular in shirt making? All in good time: we’ll tell you about them in the next post!

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