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How To Style Bold Shirts

Love our striped and colourful shirts but not sure how to pull them off? We asked stylist to the stars Gareth Scourfield for his top tips on dressing with flair without going overboard

At Thomas Pink, stripes are our bread and butter. And from the fine, subtle track stripe to in-your-face deckchair patterns, there’s truly something for everyone. But if you’ve already taken the plunge and purchased one of our flashier designs you may be wondering – what now? How does one style a statement shirt without feeling garish or looking like a children’s TV presenter? 

Enter Gareth Scourfield, stylist to the stars and friend of Thomas Pink. Over his storied career, Gareth has worked with everyone from Ben Whishaw to Colin Firth and even 007 himself, Daniel Craig. So who better to ask about the nuances of statement dressing – and, most important of all, the art of getting it right – than him?

TP: What does a customer need to bear in mind when purchasing a relatively bold striped shirt for both formal and more casual occasions?

The customer has already got over the first hurdle in buying a bold stripe shirt. It’s bold, so go with it. Show it off, let the stripe be the star of the show. For dressing a confident-looking shirt in a more formal manner, I’d opt for a solid block-colour plain woven tie from Thomas Pink, or a subtle self-stripe tie. A dark brown or khaki soft-structured blazer or navy corduroy suit would team really well and give it a more contemporary look.

I’d avoid going for a black suit (too funeral director) or three-piece (too old City gent) and definitely avoid the double pinstripe suit and shirt combo – both wrestle for attention. Don’t overthink the dressing down of something like the butchers stripe; undo a couple of buttons, roll up the sleeves, tuck into a tailored cotton chino or dark denim jean and pair with suede loafers. Above all, let the shirt be the hero piece.

Would you agree that men are increasingly embracing bright colour and prints?

Yes. Men are getting braver and bolder with mixing their colour choices and adding more adventurous prints into their outfits. It shows optimism and positivity, I think. There’s definitely a degree of self-ownership in wearing more colour and adding prints into personal style. You might just see it as pops of colour in the accessories or the full ensemble of shirts, jackets and trousers. I’m expecting the colour dial to turn up to max volume this summer.

What are the “rules” of clashing colours and patterns?

Clashing patterns in a similar colour tone can be a really effective way of introducing texture and pattern into a look without straining the eyes with overbearing patterns. It appears more considered, like mixing up traditional stripes with herringbone, Prince of Wales or puppy tooth checks. Adding a spot tie to a stripe shirt, for example, or wearing an olive-green corduroy blazer with a pink deckchair stripe creates subtle but effective contrast.

I would just note some caution when throwing too many colours and patterns into one look. Look towards David Hockney’s personal style for how to strike the right balance in wearing colours and pattern. He’s always been a big fan of stripes and clashing colours, and nails it every time.

Blue & White Tailored Fit Formal New England Stripe Shirt

Blue & Navy Tailored Fit Formal Regent Stripe Shirt

Speaking of which, celebrity-wise, who else do you think wears this kind of “look” well?

For big stripes I think you need to go back and reference some of old Hollywood’s greatest actors, who wore the bold stripe with a certain confidence. Roger Moore’s 007 was a big fan of the stripe, or an offduty Paul Newman, for example. Our very own stylish King Charles has practically grown up wearing striped shirts in myriad ways. French cinema’s Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless made the stripe shirt and tie look effortless. For a more contemporary reference, I’d say Harry Styles pulls off a stripe pretty well and who can forget Daniel Craig’s most recent outing in a bold stripe poolside two-piece in Glass Onion. For a touch of 1980s style nostalgia, you’ve got Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko, of course, and Dominic Cooper pulls off some bold shirt-and-tie combos in the brilliant current BBC series The Gold.

Do you find that certain colours and patterns are subject to trends and seasons?

I think stripes are always a perennial spring favourite. You think of seaside Breton stripes, breezy cotton deckchair stripes, on the beach or around the pool. They always feel quite crisp and fresh and always work well against tanned skin. Best served open-necked, sleeves casually rolled up, preferably with cocktail in hand.