In Praise of the Blue Striped Shirt

I’m not known for taking bold moves when it comes to clothing. My wardrobe is almost entirely made up of grey, blue, brown, and white. I rarely roll the dice with bold patterns and when I do I play it safe everywhere else. Simplicity has always been my sartorial aim and I intend to keep it that way.

However, there is one patterned item in particular that I feel enhances my simple wardrobe rather than complicating it – the blue striped shirt.

Solid blue and white shirts are unequivocal staples; I’m not here to argue that. They both have their place and it’s hard to go wrong with them. But I think the blue striped shirt provides a great alternative for the man who can’t look too dressy or too slovenly at the office (and I do think this describes the majority of men nowadays).

One of the reasons I love blue striped shirts is because they come in dozens of varieties that can wear very differently. On the one hand, there are bold butcher and candy stripes, which I love on oxford cloth button downs and on rumpled linen. Then there are the thin hairline stripes, which wear like a solid dusty blue but provide subtle contrast from ties and jackets when viewed up close. All these stripes come in a breadth of shades, creating even more variety. I prefer pale blue for fine stripes and darker hues for wider ones, but that is a personal preference.

Another reason I often find myself reaching for striped shirts is because it’s a way to wear patterns without greatly increasing the “complexity” of an outfit. Derek once postulated that wearing two patterns is an easy way to keep things simple. It’s certainly an interesting point, and I will admit that dressing with no patterns can almost be more challenging than dressing with several because everything must be dialed in so keenly. This is where the blue stripe comes in – it plays well with others. I wear my blue stripe shirts interchangeably with my solids, and it never changes the rest of my outfit. Pindot tie? Sure. Prince of Wales suit? No problem. When worn well, the blue stripe shirt adds diversity but not complexity.

Lastly, the blue stripe shirt is wonderful because it is accessible. It is available at every pricepoint and in every style. If you’re looking at a shirting company that doesn’t offer blue striped shirts then you should consider looking elsewhere.

Of course, this is all my opinion but it seems that every morning when I foggily reach into my closet I end up pulling out a blue striped shirt. Gingham is grand, tattersall is terrific, but don’t forget about the simple blue stripe.