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How To Wear A Windowpane Suit

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How To Wear Windowpane Suits

How to Wear a Windowpane Suit

Windowpane patterns (you know, the ones with the slim lines that cross to make shapes like old style windowpanes) seem to make their way into every collection from Black Lapel lately. Call it “on trend” (if you must), but there’s a much more practical reason you’re seeing more windowpane suits and jackets… windowpane might just be the perfect pattern.

Windowpanes beef up the slim guy and, paradoxically, have a slimming effect for the larger man (we’ll explain why below). Windowpanes offer the chromatically challenged—the guys who can’t match their clothes for shit—an easy way to pair shirts and ties with their jackets.

Perhaps the main reason guys are feeling the windowpane suit is that windowpanes are straightforward. We love our herringbones and houndstooths and glen checks and pinstripes, but there’s something simply elegant about a suit adorned only with windowpane boxes.

In a world where just the word pattern strikes fear into the hearts of many men, we present our windowpane suit guide as the antidote to pattern panic.


Who Looks Good in Windowpane?

Everybody looks good in windowpanes. It is, in fact, it’s forgiving/flattering nature that pushes windowpanes to the top of our list of patterns. Like actual windowpanes, the windowpane pattern in your suit is not made out of squares, but rather, slightly elongated rectangles. This has the effect of slightly elongating the wearer and that’s one reason you see bigger guys wear this pattern.

Windowpane Wizardry: Windowpane patterns are slightly taller than they are wide.

How To Wear Windowpane Suits

Still, the pattern does include horizontal lines that can serve to bulk up the skinny guy’s presence. This makes windowpane suits a great alternative to pinstripes for the slimmer gent. This slick little visual trick is what makes the windowpane suit one of the most versatile suits a man can own.


How To Match Your Windowpanes

How To Wear Windowpane Suits

Windowpane combos couldn’t be easier — highlight the color of the box lines of your jacket by wearing a tie from the same color family…

How To Wear Windowpane Suits

…or play up the base color of the suit by recruiting a similar color pair of pants.


Windowpane Dos & Don’ts

Do Wear Windowpanes to…

alter suit jacket

The office (Give the solids a rest to keep things interesting.)

A wedding (Windowpanes play as hard as they work.)


Don’t Wear Windowpanes to…

alter suit jacket

A job interview (You run the risk of showing up your interviewer.)

A funeral (Stick with somber solids. Even Chazz Reinhold knows that.)


Window-Pane and Simple

Have your pattern fears been laid to rest? We hope so. After all, adding a windowpane suit to your wardrobe collection will not only make for a nice change from routine, but couldn’t be easier to pull off, so, no more excuses.

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49 thoughts on “How To Wear A Windowpane Suit”

  1. I just bought a custom men’s navy windowpane suit with light gray/almost white, thin, single stripe panes. I ordered a white shirt with tiny lilac checks to wear with it. Presently looking for a mustard colored tie and a plum pocket square. Will this look good? Can I have pattern on the tie or will that make the whole outfit too busy? What about socks? Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey there, Kate!

      First of all, what a great buy! We hope you’re liking that custom-fit-lifestyle. As for your question, lets break it down.

      Navy windowpane suit with the light gray windowpane. Classic. White shirt underneath, clean. Mustard tie, bright, but if eye-catching is your middle name, it works. However, the only concern we have is the plum pocket square. This might make the outfit a bit over the top. We suggest if you’re going to go with a mustard tie, match the pocket square to the tie. But, again, if you really have a flair for pizzas, it works because purple and yellow are complementary colors.

      Having a pattern on the tie is fine! As for socks, you can go with a classic navy to match your suit or match the socks to your light gray windowpane.

  2. I recently picked up a tan windowpane blazer with slightly lighter tan thread used for the panes from the thrift store. It fits me perfectly and I want to wear it to a wedding this summer. How should I pair it? I feel like if I went with cream or white trousers and a white shirt it would be too drab, but also think navy pants would clash. What’s a good way to wear it?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Daniel,

      First of all – awesome find. Scoring a thrift store blazer that fits perfectly is as like finding a $20 bill in your pocket; it’s a good day to be you. As far as what to wear, if it’s the shade of tan we’re thinking, a white pant wouldn’t be drab in the least. If you’re worried about drab especially, flaunt a shirt color that works with the summer season (here’s some inspo). We agree with your comment about navy pants though, there’s a world where it works, but if you have already thought about the white/cream color pant; do that instead.

      Congratulations on the lucky find, go buy a lottery ticket and enjoy the wedding!

  3. Question, red w/white windowpane linen blazer, navy linen pants, red, blue & white stripped dress shirt, red & white wing tip shoes & boater straw hat w/ red & blue band.
    Your thoughts & suggestions.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Irving, lots of thoughts about this one! Sounds like you’re one step away from lookin’ like this guy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a lot of color. It sounds like you’re building a summer look with the linen, which is a great, breathable solution to the heat. If you’re going for the American style we think you’re going for, try and downplay some of the look or you’ll be over-the-top. Suggestions: keep the shirt to just blue and white to help with the red blazer, and make sure the red on your shoes is going to match the blazer.

  4. I have a dark brown jacket with a very light red window pane. I’m supposed to match with my date and she’s wearing green is there any way to pull this off.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You can make this work, certainly. It depends on the green she’s wearing though. You can match the green through a tie or even your shirt if the color allows you. A good reference would be this guy, see how he rocks that green tie? If you can tie (pun intended) a piece of your outfit to the color of your date’s outfit, it will look great.

  5. Have a handful of window pane slacks (grey with chalk, blue with grey, black with chalk), no suits. What is the recommendation (if any) for pairing window pane slacks with a blazer?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We recommend you wear a solid color blazer with patterned pants. Subtly-patterned blazers (like a herringbone or birdseye) can work, but tread carefully.

  6. Wondering if you could help! Recently ordered a dark blue almost navy windowpane suit with quite a light grey colour as the lines, I was wondering what shirt colour would be the best? I am probably thinking about sticking to a white shirt, then leaving me with the question of tie colour/ design; what’s the best colour tie to match? And would a pattern tie or plain suit it more? (If pattern then what should I avoid e.g stripes or spotted tie…?)
    I’d appreciate any advice you could give!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You’re right in thinking about wearing a white shirt – it’s the right call for a windowpane suit. Your white shirt shouldn’t have a color pattern in this case, but you could check out a white shirt with a subtle, crosshatch weave that gives a plain white shirt more depth and texture. Patterned ties also get a bit tricky to wear with a windowpane suit. Since the windowpane pattern in this particular suit sounds more on the subtle side, there is some room to experiment. We recommend keeping the tie in the same color family (blues, grays), and a rule of thumb is the contrast the size of patterns in an outfit. If the windowpane pattern on your suit is big, wear a tie with a small pattern and vice versa.

  7. Is it possible to pull off brown shoes with a dark navy suit with a black windowpane pattern? If so, what color of tie would would you recommend with a white dress shirt (besides the obvious navy)?

    1. Yep, we almost always recommend dark brown shoes with a navy suit. Besides from a navy tie (which will still look good in this outfit), we recommend a light gray wool tie.

  8. So I’m in a unique problem. I have a black and white windowpane button down, and currently have two formal style chinos, one charcoal and one dark indigo. My place of work is business casual (no jeans) and I’ve only seen the windowpane shirts combined with jeans.

    What color and style blazer would work well with that kind of shirt?

    1. You’re right, a black and white windowpane button-down is a bit of a bold shirt. First and foremost, we recommend you invest in a pair of tailored black chinos to add to your chino collection. They’ll come in handy in your business casual office and also when you’re off-duty (think: date night). The button-down you mentioned will match with your charcoal chinos or with black ones if you decide to get a pair. With a bold patterned shirt, keep the blazer very simple. Like, Charcoal Gray Blazer simple. Dark gray will offer a small, but stylish amount of contrast against your black shirt.

  9. Hi guys,

    I need to mix my navy window pane suit jacket (yellow/gold lines) with a shirt but more importantly with different suit trousers. The wedding is in a few days and they don’t have the suit trousers in stock! Any ideas on mixing and matching as I have no idea what will look best as it’s quite a bold jacket. Much appreciated. Josh

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Looks #1 & 3 in our article on making great blazer and pants combos both feature windowpane jackets. Those ought to serve as good inspiration for you, Josh.

      In the first example, we wrote about combining the dark jacket with a contrasting light pair of pants. You could do that by wearing a pair of pants in light brown (anywhere from khaki to caramel color). But note that we are not talking about “khakis” as in cotton chinos. That would be too casual/preppy looking for a wedding. We’re referring to a pair of dress slacks that are khaki colored.

      In the third example from that article we suggested matching the pants color with the base color of the jacket. Again, though, this comes with a warning. Don’t make the mistake of wearing solid navy blue slacks and a jacket that’s the same shade of blue with a windowpane. Vary the shades some. Go with a pair of pants in a lighter shade of blue so that the outcome is similar to this look but with a darker jacket and lighter pants.

      And our final piece of advice…be prepared so this doesn’t happen again. Get yourself a full suit for weddings and other special occasions.

  10. Chris Davies says:

    Hey guys. I’m trying to match a nAvy blue with black window plan suit with a shirt and tie combo and ideas with something That isn’t black

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There are thousands of ways to go with this, but a white shirt and a navy blue or black tie are perfectly good options. Why make it more complicated than that?

      Once you’ve worn those shirt and tie combinations a few times, you can change things up by mixing patterns. It really just depends on what you’ve got in your closet, but as long as you don’t let the pattern scare you and you don’t overthink it, you’ll be in good shape.

  11. JChristopher says:

    I’m graduating in a few weeks and I recently purchased a Double Windowpane Suit from Michael Kors. It’s medium Blue in color and has light blue lines. I consider myself to be a fashionable larger guy and I wanted to kind of dress down the suit by wearing just a normal white button down w/o no tie or wearing a light blue vneck. What are your thoughts?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      First off, congrats on graduating! Secondly, we strongly suggest going custom next time with a Black Lapel suit! As for your question, there’s nothing wrong with dressing your suit down a little. We’d suggest going with the white button down you mentioned instead of the blue V-neck, it would be better to create some visual contrast and help your suit jacket stand out, rather than going blue-on-blue-on-blue and masking the details that are meant to standout!

  12. Is there a standard for how the window panes line should be on a suit? Should the window panes line up? I recently got a window pane suit and the pockets window pane patterns are off from the main part of the jacket. Also the vertical line going down the middle of my chest on both sides of the jacket just disappear due to the seam running down in the same location. Are these irregularities normal for a window pane suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      What you described are actually two different things, Brian. On the one hand, you’ve got the pocket flaps. Getting them to match up with the pattern on the body of your jacket (pattern matching) can be a tricky bit of construction, but great tailors can do it. Poor pattern matching is particularly visible on a windowpane jacket because the pattern is simple and large. It’s not always possible to get it exactly lined up, but good pattern matching is a mark of great tailoring.

      As for the vertical seams in the jacket, those are called darts and they’re essential to giving you that V-shape when you wear your jacket. Since the jacket tapers, there is more fabric exposed at the top of your chest than the bottom, thanks to the darts. This means that, inevitably, your windowpane pattern is going to tape as well. But remember, the goal is not to look like a flat piece of fabric when you’re wearing a suit. Your jacket’s pattern will be affected by your jacket’s shape and your contours. This is normal and nothing to worry about.

  13. Andrew Ajadi says:

    Can I mix and match a grey windowpane blazer with blue lines and a blue coloured windowpane trousers with white lines?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Wearing two of the same pattern is an advanced style move, but one that can be pulled off. Forget about the colors for now, as we pointed out in our guide to mixing patterns, it’s the scale of the patterns that’s most important. If the jacket windowpane is large and the pants windowpane is small, the outfit can work. If they’re similar in size, though, we don’t recommend combining them. Once you know that it’s even worth looking at the combination you can decide if the colors work well together, which it sounds like they do since both items feature blue.

  14. Hello from Georgia!

    My husband recently purchased the – HUDSON NAVY WINDOWPANE CUSTOM BLAZER! I love it and he receives compliment after compliment! He purchased black slacks that he pairs with the blazer. If he wanted to add “blue” slacks, what color would match the best…what would you recommend?

    Stay Positive!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Your husband has good taste 😉 We’d recommend light blue slacks, like this pair here.

  15. Dareck Hawkins says:

    I’d like to rock turtlenecks. Where can I find quality wear on a budget

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice. We like Uniqlo for basics like turtlenecks. Good luck rocking ’em!

  16. Then once more, why wouldn’t you want a little style?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Right. That’s why we’re always searching for better style and then delivering it to you all. Thanks for reading!

  17. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is
    truly informative. I am gonna watch out for Brussels. I will be grateful
    if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.

    Cheers!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Well thanks to Google for bringing you here! We don’t plan to stop producing informative content anytime soon, so keep checking back for new, enticing ideas and beneficial advice :)

  18. Would love more examples of panes and shirt/tie combos with pictures. It’s easy to say in concept, but show us more examples would be very helpful.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      For more styling examples check out our Blazers page. There you’ll find the windowpanes above, plus some more styled with lots of different types of shirts and our Suits page where you’ll find our windowpane suits paired up with shirts and ties.

      Of course, guys on our mailing list get first dibs on our Looks of the Week where you’ll see our styling suggestions for all kinds of outfits sent directly to you every week.

  19. Great articles.. Thanks for sharing it

  20. nikhil udgirkar says:

    Great Blog. I never forget to check your website for any style related tips. I am looking for style tips on “How to wear blazer on a t-shirt.” I would be grateful if u include this article. Thank you

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for showing the love, Nikhil.

      As for the blazer with a T-shirt, it’s a move that’s fraught with danger, but if you pull it off it can work. A couple of steps for making this look work:

      1. Be in shape (the T-shirt ought to be fitted and that means there’s no place to hide that spare tire).
      2. This is not the time to rock the T-shirt you would otherwise wear to the gym. This is the time to put on that designer T-shirt that you gasped when you read the price but you bought anyway because you loved the way it felt.
      3. Apply the same color matching theories you would apply to a dress shirt and jacket combo.
      4. Keep the jacket as casual as possible. The jacket from your double-breasted pinstripe suit is not a good candidate for this look, but a jacket like our khaki wool linen is casual enough to pull this off.
      1. nikhil udgirkar says:

        Thank you very much for this useful tip Black Lapel.

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Our pleasure, Nikhil.

          FYI: If you rock this look and snap a pic you can enter it into our #SuitCity competition to win some free stylish stuff.

  21. Hello from Argentina :-)
    I’d like some advice about wearing windowpane suits/blazers and patterned (checkered) shirts. I read somewhere that if you use a suit with big checks, the shirt must have small checks. Of course, the easiest way is to wear a solid shirt. But I don’t know how to combine if it is not solid.
    Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hola from New York, Claudio!

      You read correctly, the way to wear two checks is to change the scale. So that means pairing the larger boxes of a windowpane with the smaller boxes in your shirt. When you do this, the two patterns visually separate and you add a bit more punch to your look.

      Experiment with your check shirts and windowpane jackets. Even if you’re not sure if the color combination works, focus on nailing the pattern scale and you’ll be surprised at the cool combinations you come up with.

      1. Thanks! :-)

  22. Is windowpane good for short blokes? I have read they are not due to the fussy pattern.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Fussy pattern? Windowpanes are pretty simple and a smart choice for shorter guys because their boxes are tall rectangles, not squares (see the “Wizardry of Windowpanes” graphic above).

  23. Windowpane fabric mostly just looks like a 70s used car salesman. No thanks.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      70s used car salesmen found a way to wear everything badly, JC.

      Still, if windowpanes are not your thing, that’s cool. As we said above, we love our herringbones and houndstooths and glen checks and there’s a time and place for pinstripes too.

  24. Black Lapel says:

    We’re happy to share…keep on reading!

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