The Stripes Guide

Stripes have come and gone in men’s fashion for centuries, but some such as the pencil and Bengal stripes endure, thanks to their versatility and ease. Stripes are the most common pattern found in menswear. The pattern inherently draws people’s attention towards it, so if you want to make a strong impression this summer, a striped shirt is a great way to do it. Use this ultimate stripes guide and how to wear them to spruce up your look. Enjoy choosing from an array of style options for designing summer striped shirts.

Stripes 101

A stripe is never just a stripe. We thought it would be helpful to highlight the most classic and popular ones. From thin to thick, these are the ones you are likely to use when designing your next custom shirts:  

Hairline Stripe

Hairline stripes are thin stripes that are about the width of a hair. The stripes spacing is very close together. This gives the shirt a textured solid effect making this a flexible pattern for shirts.



Familiar from the world of tailoring, this is a design with slightly thicker lines – more a pin’s width than a hair’s – but also further apart. The term pinstripe is used to describe both shirt and suit fabrics.

We will find, in general, that stripes can be divided into those where the spacing is uniform and ones where it is not. The hairline is an example of the former, the pinstripe the latter. 


Pencil Stripe

A small step up in thickness, usually woven with two or three threads rather than one, it is the thinnest of stripes that can look good on its own. The stripes are roughly the width of a carpenter’s pencil mark. Wider than a pinstripe but narrower than a chalk stripe. 

The term usually refers to shirt fabrics and rarely describes suit fabrics.

Pencil stripe_How_to_guide_difference

Bengal Stripe

The bengal stripe is defined by its width, by its even spacing, and by being always alternating colour and white. It is the most versatile of all shirt stripes – in a pale blue or pink pair it with any tie or none at all. The bengal stripes have enough interest to stand on its own.

Bengal stripe is broader than a chalk stripe and narrower than a candy stripe as a two-colour vertical pattern.

Bengal Stripe_Shirt_custom_Menswear

Candy Stripe

One more step up in size takes us to the candy stripe, which references the bold stripes you might find going through sweets. The spacing here is usually even, but the stripes are larger, and the colours are often bolder and brighter.

Most of the time, though, this is the start of casual-shirt territory. Do not pair this shirt with shorts and it will not sit well with a navy suit either. Try pairing this shirt with a nice pair of dark jeans or a more casual chino.

Candy stripe_shirt_summer_ultimate guide

Awning stripe

This wide stripe has become very popular in recent years – probably specifically because of the lack of neckwear made for it. The name references awnings used over shops. It is the biggest stripe found on shirtings. Check out our Soft, Light and Breathable Comfort of Linen article for more tips on how to wear an awning stripe linen shirt!


Butcher’s Stripe

To add a bit of flair to your summer stripes, the best option is a wider butcher’s stripe. Its name comes from the size of line traditionally worn on a butcher’s apron. We particularly recommend a strong stripe like this if you tend to wear your shirt open-necked.

Butcher's stripe_shirt_ultimate_stripes_guide

Bar Stripe

A type of shadow stripe where the contrasting smaller stripes symmetrically flank both sides of the main stripe.

Halo Stripe

A pattern sometimes used in suit fabrics, which looks as though the center of a stripe is the same colour as the background but is surrounded in another colour in a “halo” or eclipse effect.

More or Less Formal

The thinner, more muted, and more conservative the colour of the stripe, the more formal it is. The wider and bolder the stripe, the more casual it is.

The safest way to have more shirting freedom is with different stripe patterns. And  You can count on our stylists to easily dial up the size and strength of your striped shirts, until you find a range that works for you. Or you can simply continu using the ultimate stripes guide and how to wear them.


Shirts carry more of the burden in creating style and interest nowadays. Worn with jeans and a sports jacket, a vibrant striped shirt is as dashing a statement as ever.

André, Senior Stylist, Quebec

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