How to Wear: Stripes

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's a widely held belief in the fashion community that horizontal stripes make you look wide. It's only natural. It's a trick that your eye plays when it looks left to right on the body, rather than up and down. And there are some instances when stripes are really scary ugly too. But yesterday I was thoughtfully shopping (I call it research) and I noticed that nautical is coming back in a big way. And nautical is synonymous with stripes. So that means you're going to be seeing a lot of stripes in the stores. And I really don;t want you to be left out of the trend.

Nautical is one of my favorite styles of clothing because it's so crisp and clean. Also, I own a boat. And I totally wear my striped shirts on the boat, even though it is not a sailboat at all. I am AWARE of how ridiculous I am. Navy and red are two of my favorite colors and I love wearing them together. But add in some stripes and you're walking on "Does this make me look fat?" territory. And then your husband feels awkward and you get in a fight and I won't say I told you so. But I told you so.

HOWEVER, if you know the right way to wear stripes, you can incorporate them into your wardrobe without looking like a fat sailor, I promise. Here's my tips.

Wear stripes as accessories. This hairband from Bambako makes me squee with delight. Then you could totally do like, trouser jeans with a white tank and a little cardigan and I would be happy for you. Anchor accessories are big right now too, so snap 'em up if you're nervous about actually wearing stripes across your torso.

If you do want to try some stripes, go with a deep v or scoop neck. This shows a little more skin so it breaks up a lot of the wideness that a crewneck shirt may have. Also, some added interest also helps to break of the line so it's not so very uniform. (Buckle)

If you weren't blessed with lovely lady lumps (like myself) totally use stripes strategically to balance out your frame. Stripes on the top only make a wider line so if you're pear shaped (also me) you can balance out a narrow shoulders and bust with wider hips. Insta-hourglass! (All Saints)

K, so just because stripes are "in" doesn't mean you have to festoon your entire body with them. What would you say if I told you I was wearing this shirt RIGHT NOW? Because I totally am, I bought it yesterday. While researching. Ahem. Anyway, I was drawn to it because it's obviously very forgiving if you tend to overeat AND it has an inkling of stripes without the whole shebang. I'm wearing mine with a black cardi, skinny jeans and riding boots. (Forever21)

Now, stripes are a lot less graphic and jarring if you look for a monochromatic color scheme. Compare this shirt to a black and white stripe. The black and white has a bigger contrast and is more noticeable. Heather gray and dark gray? Totally cute. Also, notice that the shirts on this page all have a medium to small stripe. That's because a super chunky stripe can make you look, you guessed it, super chunky. (Debenham's)

Another reason stripes can be difficult to wear is that they are a uniform pattern. We've talked about this before. Uniform patterns can be tricky because you notice any little bulge or pucker in your problem areas. You can still do stripes by choosing a more abstract pattern, like this one (also from Buckle.)


Finally, a foolproof way to wear stripes is to flank them. This means to create a bookend-type look by wearing a cardigan, blazer or whatever, so there's a clear start and end to the stripes. This can actually fool the eye into seeing LESS of you. Take the above outfit. Stripes, a soft cardigan and a belt make the stripes a little more wearable, even with a wider stripe.

Don't fear the stripe! Try on a few items and mess around with the styling and you may find that you really can do nautical. On Friday we'll talk about the wrong way to do stripes and nautical and I feel like we'll have all of our bases covered and we can ALL pretend we're attractive sailors.


The Momma said...

Yay for nautical! And yay for the impending freak Friday stripes edition!

Jenna said...

DOOD. That model is totally Nicole from ANTM Cycle ... uh ... 6? Anyway she won a few years back.

P.S. I just got a super cute scoop neck 3/4-sleeve shirt at F. 21 that is totally hot. White and black stripes. It's my new fave!

bequi said...

I bought a navy and cream striped cowl neck knit sweater a few weeks ago. The stripes are really wide, but I promise I look soooo skinny it it. I wonder why?
Maybe it's the little bit of the side seams that has elastic in it, so the hem doesn't go straight across.

Jae said...

OMGOMG Jenna I think you're right. Seriously? She's a model for F21 now? I wouldn't exactly call that "top."


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