On The Wearing Of Horizontal Striped Shirts

On The Wearing Of Horizontal Striped Shirts

Horizontal Striped shirt

There are two things that cannot be debated regarding horizontal striped shirts.  The first is that no one did more to bring them to the forefront of people’s minds than Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (and yes, as we all know Alan Flusser was the man behind Gekko’s dress.  I should also note he only wears them twice in the film).  The second fact is that they are bold; much more so than vertically striped shirts.  Many say they are too bold for most office environments, rightfully so, I suppose.  Some would argue that they also scream douche bag.

horizontal striped shirt gordon gekko

In the wild, horizontal striped shirts are outnumbered 1,000:1 by vertically striped shirts (except on the golf course where horizontal stripes dominate).  But that does not mean that they are incorrect to wear. I believe one of the reasons they are not more prevalent is that generally speaking horizontal lines serve to visually widen the body and vertical ones serve to slim and elongate the body.  I cannot think or many men or women who want to actively make their body’s seem wider.  But just because horizontal stripes are prone to widening does not mean that they should be avoided.

As I alluded to above, one just has to be careful about when and where to wear them.  For instance, a more traditional office place such as a law firm or investment bank would be a less than ideal setting to wear a horizontal striped shirt.  I would go further to say that even more casual work places would also be inappropriate.  Unless of course you are either the man running things or you don’t care what the man (or woman) running things thinks.

Wearing a horizontal striped shirt can either be done brashly or more discreetly.  I would advise gravitating toward the more discreet side of things when in doubt.  I think one of the best ways to do this is to wear a solid colored tie, like that pictured below.

Horizontal striped shirt for men
Take, for example my pairing a horizontal striped shirt with a pinstripe suit. I was able to keep the shirt relatively subtle by only wearing blue and white.  Suit from MySuit, tie from Linkson Jack/Acuri Cravate, shirt from CottonWork (whom I should note had no trouble with my special instructions for the horizontal stripe alignment which was for the body, sleeves and collar to be horizontal and the cuffs to be vertical.  Which is a different arrangement than Gekko wears, but I think looks better).

Personally, I find myself wearing horizontal striped shirts primarily in a more formal social setting (such as a party with ‘cocktail attire’ or ‘jacket and tie’ as the dress).  Or during everyday casual wear with khakis and loafers, as it is a bit of a curve ball when worn without a jacket.  But to be honest, if I still worked at Deloitte I would’ve worn a horizontal striped shirt there; I fell in the camp of not caring what my peers and superiors thought of my dress.  Perhaps I would’ve cared if any of them dressed well to work, but they didn’t and probably still don’t.

Horizontal striped shirt for men

As with anything, you should only wear what your are comfortable in.  So if you are not comfortable wearing horizontal stripes then don’t.  If you are then do.  Given the usefulness of a horizontal striped shirt is less than nearly all other shirts (solids, checks, vertically striped etc) I would not advise a man make one one of his first acquisitions, perhaps his 11th or 12th (I think the one pictured was my 40th or so shirt).  If you have any questions or thoughts on horizontal striped shirts feel free to post in the comments.


horizontal striped shirt gordon gekko
“And buy a decent suit” said the master to his student.



  1. thankx for the article,and as always, thankx for the diversity and objectiveness in which you bring us the subject of style.

    as a now 58 year ‘professional’ (meaning i wear a shirt/tie everyday along with an occasional suit), i am pleased to inform you and your readers i’ve been ‘horizontal’ for at least 20 years. in fact, no vertical stripes are in my closet.

    i’d agree that in most situations, the horizontal stripe becomes the dominate feature, so accessorize accordingly. the key to this working is a custom/made to measure shirt. as we all would agree, anything that fits the body generally looks better. all of my shirts are made and share a few attributes-lack a pocket and they are designed with a fly front placket, so no buttons are visible. different collar and cuff design finish off the product.

    lastly, you are spot-on in that if one is comfortable, then wearing any item becomes a bit more seamless. sometimes it’s the presentation and how it’s carried off that speaks the loudest. style comes from within, and for this reader, horizontal striped shirt construction is a part of me.

  2. Nice shirt! THe vertical stripes on the cuffs look great with the pinstripe suit. Somehow the bold pinstripes of the suit seem to downplay the horizontal stripes on the shirt, which are inherently bold because of their uniqueness. Great collar shape, as well.


  3. That is a very fashion forward style. I never thought that stripes like that could change how someone views you. But for a party or club I can certainly see the design working. As for the business environment there’s no way it could work. Even in a place where most dress like office gnomes in Kahkis and Polos.

  4. Good article. I have a further question: where does one find pants without belt loops for suspenders?

    • Dale,
      You can either get them custom made or find a rtw maker that makes them (of which none come to mind). You may want to start with some higher end brands like Phineas Cole (by Paul Stuart) or some Italian makers.

  5. The other thing that might have contributed to the decision for Michael Douglas to wear horizontally striped shirts is /because/ they broaden the chest. They were tailored with muscular padding added underneath. In real life, Michael Douglas’ physique isn’t quite as imposing as his father’s was in his prime.

  6. Interesting.

    I’m actually in searsh for an horizontal stiped shirt.

    Please can you precise how you have proceed for ordering this shirt to CottonWork ?

    Have you just leave a comment on the order form or contact us before ordering ?

    Thanks for your help.

    Best regards.

    • Alex,
      Thank you! I got mine from CottonWork. I created a measurement profile exclusively for horizontal striped shirts and used the following text in the ‘special requests’ box:

      I would like the stripes on this shirt to go horizontally on the body and sleeves (like gordon gekko in wall street), NOT vertically (as is normal). Have the stripes go vertically on the cuffs (normally they are horizontal on the cuffs) and collar (normally they are horizontal). Have the stripes go horizontal on the yoke (which is how they are normally). I will send you a photo of a shirt you guys did in a previous order that was done perfectly, for reference. Please put the monogram on the left sleeve placket, NOT on the cuff of the sleeve of the regular shirt placket. Please ensure the collar points are 3 3/8″ long. Please ensure the buttonhole thread matches the color of the shirt and the button thread matches the white of the MOP buttons. If you have any questions, please email me (justin@thefineyounggentleman.com) before making the shirt! Thanks!

      I would also recommend you email them and provide a link to this post as well as one of the photos so there can be no confusion on their end. Hope this helps.