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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

The trouble with stripes

“Try pinstripes, they make you look taller.”

This wonderful piece of advice, or a variation on it, is something you get quite used to hearing as a short guy. Usually it is peddled out by someone trying to be helpful – or toeing a line between assisting and amusing themselves.

The elongating effect of virtual stripes is not in doubt. But, I have written in the past about the dangers of getting too hung up on stripes. Now, though, I want to slightly change that advice:

Be very careful with stripes.

Stripes do not instantly make you taller. They elongate the part of your body where you are wearing them. This means it is vital to be aware of your own proportions.

A lot of shorter people are short because one part of their body is markedly shorter than normal. If you are going to wear stripes, make sure you are wearing them on the parts of your body which need – and can afford to be lengthened.

Making the longer bits of your body appear even longer will accentuate your shorter attributes.

If I take my own body as an example: I have very short legs. I am 5’5”, but my torso is not that short. My legs, though, are. I have a 29” inside leg if I am being generous.

So, while pinstripe trousers do a good job enhancing my leg, a pinstripe jacket or a vertically striped jumper can be a problem

This was driven home the other day when I tried a (very lovely) Ralph Lauren pinstripe blazer. The fit was perfect. But it drew attention to my torso and made my legs look even shorter than normal.

When dressing as a short man, proportions and where you draw attention are key. With that in mind, it is worth not just avoiding vertical stripes on your longer body parts, but considering whether you want to draw the eye to your shorter areas.

As I say, be very careful. The old easy adage about pinstripes making you look taller is usually not true.

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