We love to hate bankers. So why do we love to dress like them?


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Bankers often get a bad rap. Just this week, the Commonwealth Bank had to repay its customers $10 million after a credit card insurance bungle, it is embroiled in an alleged money laundering scandal, and its boss, Ian Narev, announced his retirement.

Although some may celebrate such incidents, it left me wondering: if we hate banks and bankers so much, why do we love to dress like them?

No banker wankers here … Emily Ratajkowski works the modern pinstripe look. Photo: PA

I’m talking here about pinstripes, which include the bolder banker’s stripe, a style made popular by, you guessed it, mostly men who worked in the finance industry.

Although that’s up for debate, according to RMIT fashion and textiles senior lecturer Sean Ryan.

Ryan, who has written and lectured about the origin of the stripe, says there are competing stories about the origin of the pinstripe suit: the London bankers’ story (the stripes are said to represent lines on a ledger), and something more sporty that evolved from the blazer and graduated to trousers in the earlier half of the 20th century.

“The [second] story is much more exuberant, much more vivid,” Ryan says, adding that he’s fascinated that stripes, which were traditionally linked to prisoners and societal outcasts, would make their way into prestige and high fashion.

Kris Jenner doing relaxed pinstripes before an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel.

Kris Jenner doing relaxed pinstripes before an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. Photo: PA

“Even if the social stigma is removed, [stripes] still have a thrilling effect … they carry your vision away from you.”

Fashion designers this season are once again drawn to the androgyny of the pinstripe in a look that’s more joie de vivre than Jailhouse Rock.

Genevieve Smart, of Ginger and Smart, says for spring, the pinstripe is shifting from the quintessential power pattern to a more relaxed, weekend vibe.

“Anything with asymmetrical hemlines and soft frills has our vote. Wear it back with sneakers for an unexpected sporty vibe,” she says.

Olivia Palermo

Olivia Palermo. Photo: PA

It’s clear that tearing the pinstripe away from the boardroom, where it’s had a near century’s long association, is the mantra of the 2017 trend.

Rebecca Tay, editorial director for e-tailer The Outnet, says: “These days, pinstripes feel anything but staid.”

For inspiration, or a splurge, Tay suggests designers including 3.1 Phillip Lim, J.W. Anderson and Monse.

“I love how modern they all make pinstripes feel with deconstructed tailoring, mix-and-match prints and unique approaches to layering. Try pairing a subtle pinstripe with a more vibrant printed skirt for work – go with a print that’s in similar hues if in doubt.

To Tay’s list, I have to add Off White, whose Top Deck-style black-and-white deconstructed blazer is one of the best pinstripe looks I saw on the European runways for spring.

Australian expats Tome also gave a great interpretation of the trend with a tie-front miniskirt worn over a shirt dress – a look that’s not easy to pull off but has street style written all over its deconstructed self.

Tay’s advice for wearing pinstripes off duty is to stick to a simple shirt.

“For more casual occasions (or creative workplaces), an oversized, pinstripe men’s-style shirt worn half-tucked into jeans – preferably a cropped flare or straight-leg style – is every street style maven’s go-to look for a reason.”

And who doesn’t want to look like a maven?

Get the look

Fame and Partners, $349.

Fame and Partners, $349.

AKIN by Ginger and Smart, $289.

AKIN by Ginger and Smart, $289.


ASOS, $109.

Alexander Wang at Stylebop.com, $XX.

Alexander Wang at Stylebop.com, $1500.

T by Alexander Wang at Stylebop.com, $XX.

T by Alexander Wang at Stylebop.com, $492.

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