Horizontal Stripe Shirt

The Horizontal Stripe Shirt

Although many men wear striped dress shirts, I rarely see horizontally striped shirts on the streets. Considering there is not much information available about this kind of pattern orientation, today we will share a detailed article about the horizontal stripe shirt.

Horizontal Stripe Shirt History

Bib Front Shirt with Horizontal Stripes 1936

Bib Front Shirt with Horizontal Stripes 1936

If at all, most people will think of Gordon Gekko when it comes to horizontally striped shirts. And while Michael Douglas’s incarnation of an investor shark indeed wore a few striped shirts of the kind, he was by no means the first one to do so.

Though it is unclear how early horizontally striped shirts were worn, the 1930s is the first period in which men appear to have worn horizontal stripe shirts consistently. However, they were not really striped all the way, but rather the horizontal stripes were confined to a “bib” with a body of white fabric and a white starched detachale collar. When worn with a vest and jacket or morning coat, you would always assume that the shirt was striped all the way, but in fact it was not. Since no gentleman would have removed his coat in public, no one ever knew what the shirt really looked like.

Of course, there were always variations. For example, here you can see a horizontally striped shirt with a bib and a detachable striped collar. This shirt is from 1936 and has a separate, white collar band.

According to Baron von Eelking, the dress shirt with horizontal stripes allover – not just on a bib- was introduced by Monsieur Filipseco in Paris in 1950 during a time, when he was leading the Sélection Ambassadeur, a French committee for men’s fashion. As such, French trade magazine called the horizontal stripe shirt Ambassadeur.

Today, there are a number of variations of horizontal stripes but the bib version is no longer available, unless you are interested enough to go bespoke.

How To Wear A Horizontal Stripe Shirt

Gordon Gekko in Horizontal Stripe Shirt

Gordon Gekko in Horizontal Stripe Shirt

Like I mentioned above, many people associate a Gordon Gekko look with horizontal stripes and this is especially true if you combine it with a contrasting white collar and suspenders. I do not think that imitating a movie figure style has anything to do with elegance, though I could write an entire article about that topic.

If you want to look handsome and enjoy adding a unique touch to your wardrobe, a little more subtlety is advisable. Also, bear in mind that generally vertical stripes will make you appear thinner and horizontal lines wider than you actually are.

For example, pair a plain navy suit with a shirt with fine horizontal line in light blue, and few people will notice that the stripe is different. Clothes aficionados will recognize your individuality and discreetness.

Ideally, pair it with a 3 piece or double breasted suit so only a small part of your shirt front is exposed.

If you want to stand out more, choose more vivid colors and bolder stripes.

In case you want to give darker shirt stripes try, make sure to only wear them with similarly dark suits. Since the shirt is bold, the suit should be plain or have a very subtle pattern, such as a needle head or pin point.

At the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable in your outfit.

Contrast Collar and Horizontal Stripes

Many horizontally striped shirts feature a detachable white contrast collar that is soft in comparison to the starched and highly polished collar from back in the day.

In my opinion, the white collar makes for a rather formal look and consequently, I would only wear it with a suit. Of course, the stripe width and the color of the stripes are of great importance too. Also, it increases the Gordon Gekko factor – so choose this style wisely and pair it with subtle accessories.

Striped Sleeves & Collar

As you can imagine, there is ample opportunity to change the mix of stripes on the sleeves and collar. Unlike a regular striped shirt, the sleeves can be striped horizontally, and the collar vertically. Or your can have sleeves and collar tailored just like a regular striped shirt. Thanks to our readers Richard Brown and Steve Highbarger, we have some  pictures of their horizontal stripe shirts. These help to illustrate the numerous options available.

However, more style options do not necessarily make for a more elegant appearance. Gordon Gekko wore a horizontal stripe shirt with irregularly striped cuffs and collar. These details scream for attention and most people will notice them. Just be aware of this effect when choosing this style to prevent surprises when in public.

Regular Sleeves Horiztontal Stripe Shirt

Regular Sleeves Horiztontal Stripe Shirt by RJW Shirts

Through trial and error, I believe that the best combination for me is: sleeves and body with have horizontal stripes, and collar and cuffs with classic stripes or contrasting white. As such, I create a unique look that is elegant but not flashy.

Bold Horizontal Stripes

Traditionally, bold horizontal stripes are synonymous with prison jumpsuits. Thankfully, most shirt fabric choices today avoid such blatant associations.

All shirts with bold horizontal stripes I have seen had classic stripes in blue, black or red on a plain white background. Combinations of blue and yellow would be quite daring, considering few men wear horizontal stripes at all. Generally, the bolder the stripe, the less formal the outfit. For such a shirt, I would recommend skipping the contrasting collar.

Personally, I prefer the more subtle stripes and hence I have not added a bold horizontally striped shirt to my wardrobe yet. Here is some food for thought from Etutee.

Subtle Horizontal Lines

Finer stripes have the advantage that they look solid from a distance and striped in close proximity. I definitely prefer this kind of stripe over the bolder variations for that exact reason. Of course, there are many variations.

Deoveritas Horizontal Striped Shirt

Horizontal Striped Shirt

For example, this one is made from a Thomas Mason fabric with multiple blue stripes on a white background.

On the other hand, I do have a very subtly striped summer shirt in light blue from Siniscalchi. The horizontal lines are the result of the open fabric weave and the white color. In this case, the stripe is not just decorative but also wears cool and airy.

For summer wear, I think this is a fantastic solution: subtle, functional and elegant. Unfortunately, this kind of fabric is usually not available for ready-to-wear or made-to-measure shirts, and so you have to either source the fabric yourself or find a skilled custom shirtmaker who can do that for you.


With horizontally striped shirts, the proper choice of accessoires becomes a little more important. As I mentioned above, suspenders can certainly have an Gordon Gekko effect but if you keep on your jacket, no one will ever see them. However, everybody will see your shirt and tie combination. Etutee used a great comparison of pictures to illustrate the importance of the right tie/shirt combination:

Burgundy tie, blue stipe, pin stripe suit. This is a rather loud ensemble that gets you attention:

Burgundy Tie with Contrast Collar

Burgundy Tie with Contrast Collar

Light blue tie combined with light blue, horizontal stripes – a subtle outfit:

Light Blue Tie with Candy Stripe Shirt

Light Blue Tie with Candy Stripe Shirt

Where to Buy Horizontally Striped Shirts

Deovertias Pattern Matching

Pattern Matching

Generally, not many RTW brands offer this style. Currently, it seems like Paul Frederick is one of them, but for $40 you get an inferior cotton that won’t last you long. Also, I really dislike their stiff interlinings. Pricey options include Robert Talbott and Turnbull & Asser.

For a few dollars less you can find a MTM provider of shirts, where you can choose your stripes and discuss all the style options with them. They will also use your measurements, and the fabrics come from Thomas Mason or Tessitura Monti and should last you for years to come.

Last but not least, every shirtmaker should be able to create a horizontal stripe for your specifications. Of course, you will end up paying at least twice as much as with a MTM shirtmaker, but you will probably get great personal service in addition to learning a lot about the fine details of a shirt.

What is your opinion on horizontally striped shirts? Do you wear them, would you wear them? Let us know!


14 replies
  1. Ahmed Sajeel says:

    Like all things we discuss here … the horizontally striped shirt is for the sartorially evolved only. And yes I do wear this kind

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Goot to know I am not the only one out there ;). Nice way to put it Sajeel – sartorially evolved. However, I am always more than happy to write about things that appeal to all people interested in clothing, no matter whether they are a novice or an expert.

  2. Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken says:

    Horizontal stripes actually look strange if exposed, but concealed by a coat they do give a little extra to the appearance. At least I wouldn’t take of my coat wearing such a shirt, but maybe it is simply something one has to be accustomed to before wearing it.
    Nevertheless, I thank you a lot for informing about the existence of such shirts, of which I was not aware so far.

  3. richard says:

    great article, raphael. as you and i spoke in late feb. when you began researching for the article, it’s a design choice, which like anything else, should look and ‘feel’ like an extension of the individual.

    the time-worn guideline of ‘vertical makes one appear slimmer’ is a consideration for anyone venturing into horizontal. lastly, my initial conversations with two m/m shirtmakers resulted in an inability to produce horizontal shirt construction. deo veritas has made two for me (one shown above) of which i am pleased as to attention to details.

    i really appreciate that each article you publish provides for the history of its orgin and how it remains relevant today.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Red Soles & Bold Pants Double Row of Pick Stitching Colorful Pocket Squares At Duchamp – Horizontal Striped Shirt Americana Allen Edmonds Canvas Spectator MRket Las VegasBrand Introduction to Eton Shirts, John […]

  2. […] walking.Chalk Stripe Suit Ralph Lauren Purple Label 5Shirt: light blue, with a fine open weave horizontal stripe, cotton – made by  SinsicalchiTie: Jacquard silk in bordeauxCufflinks: Malachite in Sterling […]

Comments are closed.