Amal Clooney shows us the modern way to wear pinstripes


It’s the go-to workwear fabric for those who want to dress like a boss. But, as Amal Clooney demonstrated yesterday, the power pinstripe is more versatile than you might think.

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Taking to the stage at the Texas Conference for Women, Amal wore a navy, striped sheath dress, believed to be from the Victoria Victoria Beckham line, with Paul Andrew heels. As a human rights lawyer, her office dress code may rarely leave a lot of room for flair, yet Amal (once again) has found a way to make a subtle statement with her workwear.

Amal Clooney speaking at the Texas Conference for Women.

Amal Clooney speaking at the Texas Conference for Women.

A pinstripe suit, traditionally, is a look that exudes power. There are many fashion folklores about its exact origins, but its evolution has been traced through the striped jackets worn by British boaters from the 19th century and the suits that distinguished bankers in the 1920s. Actors have cemented its status as the businessman’s uniform over the years – from Carey Grant in 1943’s Suspicion through to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street in 2013.


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In women’s wardrobes, however, the pinstripe became a symbol of empowerment. Yves Saint Laurent created rebellious pictures of his statuesque muse, Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain, wearing a three-piece pinstripe suit and smoking a cigarette in the early 1960s. A few years later in 1967, Helmut Newton photographed Twiggy in a suit, brogues and tie for Vogue, encouraging women everywhere to try the Dandy look. By the time that Jean Paul Gaultier made Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour suit, slashed down the front to reveal her iconic conical bra, all of the rules were broken, and the pinstripe was corporate no more.

Madonna in pinstripes during her 1990 'Blonde Ambition' tour

Madonna in pinstripes during her 1990 ‘Blonde Ambition’ tour Credit: Rex

For AW16, designers have again seized the chance to play with this symbol, with young designers like Jacquemus collaging pinstripes with party fabrics, and bigger brands like DKNY cutting it into dozens of new silhouettes that are so #NSFW (that’s ‘not suitable for work’ for the uninitiated). The pinstripe now goes with everything – so long as you’ve got the confidence to stand tall in it – and, best of all, it’s universally flattering.

So whether you’re looking for a subtle yet powerful addition to your workwear wardrobe like Amal, or fancy turning the pinstripe into your new party staple, here are five pieces that could work for the office, but should definitely not be reserved only for the boardroom…

5 of the best pinstripe pieces in stores now

pinstripe dress

Dress, £425, from Paper London

topshop jumpsuit

Jumpsuit, £49, from Topshop

jaeger top

Top, £99, from Jaeger 

victoria beckham dress

Dress, £620, from Victoria Victoria Beckham at Net-A-Porter

jacquemus jacket

 Deconstructed jacket, £615, from Jacquemus at Browns 

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