Rare Moment: Horizontally Striped Suit


One of the joys of bespoke clothing is the opportunity to do something truly individual, even original. When I once commissioned a shirt, I relished the opportunity of ordering a horizontally striped shirt – an eyecatching rarity these days – as I had always liked the idea of a ‘hooped’ chest and had begun to appreciate uncommon aesthetics in reaction to the dull uniformity I bear witness to each and every day. I had always thought that this was a step far enough; diagonal stripes on a shirt would be a pretentious disaster and would not flatter the aesthetic of the classic symmetrical human form and costume – with stripes, it was only the purely horizontal and the vertical that could seriously vie for elegance. And so, the horizontally striped shirt remained as my favourite example of doing something a little differently whilst avoiding vulgarity.

Months past, the seasons changed; and then I stumbled into a tailor’s workroom for a fitting where I saw, to my amazement, a creation that purists would consider gross sartorial blasphemy; a peak lapelled, ticket pocketed, horizontally striped suit. It sat there, amongst the ‘senior citizens’ choices, brash as anything, unaware of the rumpus it was causing. Despite being slightly disconcerted, I began to admire what was essentially an entertaining creation of whim. It was a beautiful risk taker, a daring thing that would doubtless have cars swerving and gentlemen stumbling as it moved through the metropolis.

It was, apparently, a paean to the audacious creations of the aptly named Tommy Nutter, who along with Edward Sexton dominated the Savile Row scene in the early seventies. Despite this historic dedication, the suit did not appear to be some Jagger-esque relic of the twentieth century’s seventh decade. Though a head turner, it also had an elegant presence that antiquated many of the more conventional suits lined up next to it. It was dynamic and rather dazzling; the kind of suit to wear to a garden party at Elton John’s. My only annoyance is that I did not get to see it worn by the lucky commissioner.

Naturally, one man’s meat is another man’s poison; I wouldn’t have to look very hard to find a gentleman who would think that such a violently unconventional use of a bespoke tailor is a sartorial abortion that requires the potential institutionalisation of the commissioner; “Fattening” they say when I mention my fondness for the horizontal stripe. This, they claim, is in contrast to the vertical stripe which slims a gentleman down. However, I am always wary of such dismissiveness; people that reject an alternative merely because it is an alternative rarely discover anything in life worth discovering. Though I do not currently have the funds for such fun, a horizontally striped suit has shimmered into view; a rare moment has inspired me to dream.