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Three Things to Know About Pinstripes
For business attire that goes beyond basic black or blue, pinstripes are a natural choice. Trace their evolution with Groupon’s investigation of the pattern’s history.
1. Pinstripes originated in Britain. But that’s pretty much all we know about the origins of the pattern, a series of woven pinhead-size dots that turn into fine lines when viewed from a distance. Some say pinstripes first became popular with bankers—there’s even a rumor that the width of the stripes signified important distinctions among London firm employees—while others believe the style blossomed in the world of men’s sportswear, where the fashions were more creative. In the 1920s, the pinstripe’s significance briefly shifted: perhaps in a bid for the respectability associated with the mainstream business world, gangsters such as Al Capone became prominent adopters of the style.
2. Despite the rumors, the New York Yankees didn’t switch their uniform fabric to pinstripes to hide Babe Ruth’s larger figure. The evidence doesn’t add up. When Ruth joined the Yankees in 1920, he actually was still in top shape. Not only that, but the Yankees actually switched to pinstripes back in 1912, when Ruth was still in his teens—perhaps inspired by the Chicago Cubs, the first baseball team to introduce stripes to the diamond in 1907.
3. Modern pinstripes are more sleek, less flashy. Despite the common image of pinstripe suits through much of the 20th century—including a 1980s trend for oversized power suits—they’re no longer double-breasted, long in the jacket, or baggy at the ankles. Today’s version is slimly tailored and given narrow lapels like many modern suits, and often is paired with patterned shirts in contrasting patterns such as gingham or plaid.