The Dilemma of Wearing Stripes – It’s Just Not Black and White…


Early in the last century a very young and forward thinking Coco Chanel saw fishermen at Deauville in their striped jerseys and was inspired by their simplicity and comfort.  These stripey jerseys have been making fashion news from time to time ever since.  This season stripes are definitely having a huge moment, thanks in no small part to Miuccia Prada who has done it boldly. 

I simply love the fun, sporty appeal that stripes have.  But I am ever so weary of the hard and fast rule that beleaguers stripes, especially horizontal ones.  That is, of course, NOT to wear them – as they make you look fat.   Boooooo!!!!!!  That’s no fun, at all!!!  Yes, the wrong stripes on the wrong portions of one’s anatomy are not going to be terribly flattering.  In some cases they can be down right disastrous.  But in my humble opinion there is a stripe out there for every body.  And this is THE season to get your hands on one!

How *does* one wear them?  Taking our cues from the great Prada outfit above, it’s clearly about being well placed and well spaced.  So yes, we must step away from the wide single width bumble bee-ish stripes of our childhood rugby shirts – even some of Miuccia’s runway looks with these were a miss on any but the slender models in the show.  Instead let us look at just what fun visual tricks one can play when you start mixing it up.    

For overall appeal the traditional fishermen jersey stripe top or sweater (like number one above) with a pattern of a very narrow line with a wider line is actually pretty good on most figures, as is the very close together, equally-sized stripes.   The key with these is to watch overall proportion of the top itself –if you feel you have a very wide derriere you probably do not want the top to embrace it in stripes.      

Not convinced?  Try some cleverly engineered stripes ala Prada.  Look at your body and decide what needs to be played up, or perhaps down, and select accordingly.  Balance your torso by emphasizing shoulders using stripes that start at chest level – as in number two, or a visual hour-glass trick can be created with stripe placement as in number four.  You can also crib off of Prada’s use of different colors to emphasize/deemphasize your figure.  You can also go with a more subtle look by keeping stripes tonal instead of the more bold contrasts of dark with light.  While I am just showing dark/white mixes (yes, I am *such* a traditionalist) there are a whole bunch of terrific colorful options out there this season that should be great fun and look great too.

Still not sold?  Then start moving the little darlings around completely.  Try diagonals, like number three, or mix the directions up completely like in number five.  I like what Anna Scholz has come up with for the plus-sized among us in number six, she took the fabric and placed it both horizontally and vertically – creating a little visual special effect that is very flattering and still has that original chic vibe going. 

Now if you try on a plethora of stripes and are STILL not in love with how you look in what you have found, but are still craving your stripe moment, get thee to the accessories and shoe departments – there are some super-cute options that will get you at least a taste of the trend.  I found a striped scarf that has a sort of English/rugby sporty thing going and I have a black and white narrow striped scarf that is oh-so-French, and both are really fun.   In any event I think this is a must-try trend – girly or sporty, bold or subtle, a little or a lot, there is something out there for all of us!

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