Pinstripe is something I definitely mentioned in this column, and not long ago. But since then, striped pants have become the one thing that, if you add them to your wardrobe, will instantly make many of your clothes look spring 2024.
They’re not exactly a must-have, even if we weren’t too old for that prescriptive approach to dressing, but more of a one-step look change, if you like tailored pants.
A pair of high-waisted or mid-high-waisted baggy striped pants are the sartorial equivalent of the new rug that makes your room look instantly more modern; or that haircut that somehow refreshes your entire face and takes away ten years of rest.
And, since this is the kind of fashion magic we all appreciate (buy a pair of pants and renew your entire wardrobe), pinstripes are everywhere.
Duty requires me to start with the new look of the block because it will be catnip for some, but not for me. I am referring, of course, to cargo pants: pants with large square pockets reaching mid-thigh, which currently top the pants charts.
Taylor Swift rocks a striped vest and matching pants in New York City in 2022
There’s no reason to overlook them for reasons of age (I’ve never liked them, not even during the first wave in the 1990s) and they can be flattering. If you’re on the fence, Me+Em has a beautifully cut pair (£250, meandem.com) in navy with a chalk stripe and vent hems (side-split), all the better for showing off your boots, trainers or crossbody bag. -Back block heels, and I would buy them if it weren’t for the flap pockets.
The brand also has a slim, cropped striped fit (£195), which might work better if you’re petite; otherwise, I’d stick with the classic, swaggery, front-pleated shape and pay as much as you can afford because these are the LBD of pants and you’ll have them forever. Forget black pants for now – striped and denim pants are smart.
Making the fashion front row drool are the gray Italian wool with a chalk pinstripe from Jigsaw (£220, jigsaw-online.com). They are not cheap, but they are well cut, long and thin, with two front pleats and perfectly draped. It is important that, with pants with pleats in the front, the pleats are barely noticeable and that they lie flat.
Me+Em’s Relaxed Straight Striped Cargo Pant is £250
This pair has a matching jacket (£350) which today we are encouraged to consider, not as a suit, but as part of an ensemble, to be worn separately or together.
For my money, navy is the smarter option and Marks & Spencer has a more affordable navy pair, less cocky on the legs but still the right shape (£79, marksandspencer.com) with a matching jacket (£119) and Zara has a good, slim mid-waist style (£69.99, zara.com). If you wear your striped pants alone, and most of us do, the real appeal is that they can be dressy or casual (although they’re always dressier than jeans).
You can dress them down with a denim shirt, a solid-color button-down cardigan, or a gray or black polo collar slightly tucked in (very Phoebe Philo, the stylish designer who loves fashion).
They also look good with a fitted sweater. And don’t be afraid to wear something patterned, like a horizontal striped fabric; As long as it’s graphic and simple, in two or three colors, it will work.
Pinstripes are tailor-made for the office, but you don’t have to wear them with a boyfriend shirt and shiny black loafers. A navy tank top over a crew-neck blouse is an easy look for everyday work, and pinstripes look chic with navy and cream sneakers.
Sienna Miller leaves the Today show in New York in 2019 wearing head-to-toe red and white pinstripes
For an extra chic office look, you can wear any plain cropped jacket over a fitted white T-shirt, or a four-pocket bouclé jacket over a slim polo collar.
Dressing these pants for the evening is as easy as wearing them with a pretty white long-sleeved blouse (elbow length in summer) or a silky open-neck shirt, plus jewelry and heels.
Or you can wear them with a lace-trimmed blouse under a matching jacket, although this will feel a little wintry long after Easter.
Finally, a word about the cut: a sleeveless vest with striped pants is a stylish look for summer nights for those who don’t live in terror of exposing their upper arms.
I won’t join Taylor Swift’s look, but try it if you have Jennifer Aniston’s arm definition.