10 December 2008

City Stripes Celebration

From my teenage years onward, I have had a thing for business shirts with narrow, evenly-spaced stripes. Today they are referred to as bengal, banker, or university stripes; but when I was young we called them City stripes.

One of my masters at school, Mr. Jessup, frequently wore City stripes. Jessup was a short, portly, shaven-headed gent with tortoise-shell specs (not unlike the American style expert G. Bruce Boyer) and a fondness for the poetry of Swinburne and Whitman, who wore cruddy cardigans or v-neck jumpers, stained charcoal trousers, knit ties, and black English loafers from New & Lingwood. His dress shirts invariably featured plum or purple City stripes. He wore these shirts so often that they smelled; the collar and cuffs were frayed. While he made us recite the poems of the English Romantics in a plummy accent, I made meticulous note of his City striped shirts.

At first I bought my shirts at Harvie & Hudson, where I would stand in front of the shop windows and study the brightly-coloured, striped configurations of the City shirts on display and dream of wearing them to a job in management consulting or investment banking. Later, I acquired shirts at Brooks Brothers, J.Crew, and JPress, usually with spread collar and double cuffs, wearing them on both business and informal occasions. Then as now I admired the clean look presented by the neat, even stripes. Like the colours on club or repp neck ties, City striped shirts can hint at membership of a club, college, or athletic team. Herein, I think, lies at least part of their appeal.

3 comments:

initials CG said...

It's true... you can never have "too many" striped shirts in your wardrobe.

anonymous english female said...

How nice that striped shirts are still being worn by discerning gentlemen. Discreet, elegant they somehow convey solidity and assuredness.

Admiral, i must say you possess a fine profile; are you by any chance of Huguenot descent?

Laguna Beach Trad said...

No, I'm not of Huguenot descent.