Pinstripes aren’t just for city boys – this is the stylish way to wear them

Everybody from the royals to the fashion crowd have been embracing pinstripes lately, says Cope

Pinstripes have long been seen as the unofficial uniform of the city boy. After all, the narrow stripe first rose to prominence as the suit of choice for London bankers in the 19th century, as a way to identify themselves to customers. In the 1940s, Hollywood icons like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn started to rewrite the rules, wearing pinstripe skirt-suits as a form of empowerment, and since then, they’ve become synonymous with power dressing for everyone. During the work-from-home era of the pandemic, pinstripes all but disappeared, but slowly, surely, they’ve been creeping back into fashion again.

This week two royal women chose to wear pinstripes for very different occasions, both of which required them to put on a strong show. On Monday, Queen Letizia of Spain, often celebrated for her sartorial savoir-faire, wore a belted pinstripe blazer and matching trousers by Boss.

Queen Letizia of Spain in a belted pinstripe blazer and matching trousers by Boss
Queen Letizia of Spain in a belted pinstripe blazer and matching trousers by Boss - Getty

Next, it was Queen Camilla who chose a reliable navy pinstripe skirt and jacket for a thanksgiving service at Windsor Castle. She accessorised with a Chanel cross-body bag, feathered Philip Treacy hat and her go-to Van Cleef & Arpels jewellery.

Queen Camilla in a navy pinstripe skirt and jacket for a thanksgiving service at Windsor Castle - Getty

The fashion crowd has also embraced the 9-to-5 look (even when they’re absolutely not doing the hours). Sofia Richie Grainge wore a matching pair of grey pinstripe trousers with an off-the-shoulder top to sit front row at a Ralph Lauren show at New York Fashion Week. Alexa Chung wore a pair of navy pinstripe trousers to J W Anderson’s show in London, paired with a white vest and purple cardigan (she has previously paired the same trousers with a leather jacket). From traditional suiting to shirts and shorts, there are seemingly endless ways to embrace the trend.

Sofia Richie Grainge in pinstripes at Ralph Lauren
Sofia Richie Grainge in pinstripes at Ralph Lauren - Gotham
Alexa Chung in pinstripe trousers at JW Anderson in London
Alexa Chung in pinstripe trousers at JW Anderson in London - getty

As demonstrated by the diversity of women wearing them, the great thing about pinstripes is that they are flattering for just about everybody, with the vertical, thin stripes giving the illusion of being both taller and slimmer – not to mention, “put together”. Want to try the look for yourself but not sure where to start? The stylist Ginnie Chadwyck-Healey recommends opting for a softer hue, rather than black, for a modern take: “Navy or grey is easier on the eye, with a soft chalk stripe running through,” she explains. “At the age of 41, I recently bought my first pinstripe suit. It was a duck egg blue, from Sezane.”

Loose tailoring, such as wide-leg trousers, also helps, as Chadwyck-Healey explains: “A slightly oversized cut gives a softness to the silhouette – which in turn gives a casual air. It’s a look that is much more pulled together than my everyday style.”

If you’re worried about looking too ‘boardroom’ then an easy way to add a frisson of femininity is via your jewellery: “A gold nugget of an earring, some layered necklaces, a few gold or silver bangles – it all helps to balance the very masculine style with accents of feminine elegance.” Or, to amp up the sex appeal for evening, “Let the suit do the talking and wear only a bra or slip underneath – you can always wear lots of long necklaces if you’re self conscious about the elongated neckline element.”

And finally where to shop the look? “British brand Me&Em is enjoying huge success right now,” says Chadwyck-Healey. “As a brand they help customers wear some of the smartest ‘city’ garments, even if you never actually make it to the city.”

The best to buy

Recycled polyester blend jacket


£170, Sezane

The relaxed cut of this double-breasted jacket is ideal for a laid-back approach to the trend.

Italian Melange three-piece suit


£525, Me+Em

Go full Diane Keaton in this three-piece wide-leg trouser suit.

Recycled polyester blend waistcoat


£65, Albaray

Layer this waistcoat over a long-sleeved tee for a relaxed day time vibe or wear on its own with jeans for a more risqué evening look.

Polyester blend jacket


£229, Hobbs

We love the versatility of this jacket, which can be dressed up or down with jeans and a T-shirt or a blouse and trousers.

Wool blend trousers

& Other Stories

£110, & Other Stories

Perfect for both day and night, these slim fit flares add rock’n’roll cool to the quintessential city slicker look.

Suit trousers


£49.99, Mango

The wide cut of these trousers is super-flattering, and looks great when worn with a simple knit or long-sleeved T-shirt.