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Rare Shirt: Black Butcher Stripe Edition

This black butcher stripe on broadcloth is a rare one, a strange one. I love broadcloth butcher stripes of all colors, much like I love university stripe OCBDs of all colors. I love both the classic and the non-traditional alike. The easily paired and the difficult to pull-off. This butcher stripe broadcloth is no exception. Its texture is thin, breezy and perfect for summer. The spacing of the classic unbalanced butcher stipe is open, bold and fun. Yet, the color black is peculiar. Reds, yellows, pinks, blues and greens all fall right in line with the other elements which characterize this shirt. The black, and all the heaviness that comes with it, is an interesting detour.

The black is a bit chalky on this particular shirt. It is not lightly saturated the same way a university stripe appears, but it is a bit subtle, a bit lighter. Chalky really is the best word to describe its character. The shirt is easily worn senza tie and senza sport coat. Thrown over in a casual manner, it is possible to bring in a unique belt as the focal point of the outfit. You could even go with a bold madras belt in this case. There are lots of other simplified combinations. I won't list them all. I will explore some in later pieces.

But, if you are going to wear this shirt in a more formal way i.e. with a tie and sport coat/blazer, it's a bit more difficult. In theory lots of different colors / ties would work with this shirt, but not too many feel truly natural. There were some that worked just fine but felt a bit heavy. Sometimes a tie would end up feeling a bit more autumnal / winter rather than spring / summer. In this instance I went with a light pink madder. It is bolder and brighter and the pairing of black and pink is rather off the beaten path, that is just what I was looking for. It is spring / summer, I was looking for something a bit more bold and daring.

As for a jacket, the right light/tan houndstooth could certainly work with this. It would have to be just right though, I don't have the perfect shade / perfect coat for that direction. I have a cream linen jacket which could work, but it isn't warm enough for it. And, in that case it is a bit of needle threader. This is a tough shirt to pair going all the way with it into tie and jacket territory. In this case, absent that perfect houndstooth, I went with the navy blazer. It is simple, direct and works today just as it did yesterday and the day after. It is such a staple for a reason. As is evident from this photo, if you would like to capture a real late 1980s, early 1990s vibe, pairing a madder tie with a butcher stripe puts you on a fast track to doing so no questions asked. If you want that look, this combination is a golden ticket.

In closing, this shirt - the black butcher stripe broadcloth - is a nice, strange little shirt. The mood it conveys is all over the place, warm weather perfect with an open feeling in the unbalanced stripe spacing yet oddly moody, dark and heavy due to the black. It's cool today, with fog and misting rain. It is a gray day and the weather was, as it so often is, my guide and inspiration for color and mood. It certainly feels like a shirt that is easier to wear in a casual approach rather than a more buttoned-up formal approach. Nevertheless, sometimes it is fun to try to push something to its limit, taking the more difficult road, exploring the less obvious options. Sometimes there can be some joy and fun in threading the needle a bit.

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