5 Tips For Wearing Stripes

I saw this Valentine card and thought is was provocative, but in a good way. The zebras caught my eye and I had to look inside. The caption made me smile but it also conjured up all of the fashion back-and-forth we read and hear about stripes.IMG_2640

Inside Caption

Inside Caption

(Card is from a series called “Party Animals” by Recycled Paper Greetings.) But back to our topic….

How DO we feel about the stripe issue? Poor thing has her widest stripes running across her rump region. It’s just the way she was made. And now that brings me to the question of stripe width such as thick or thin. Or how about the direction of the stripe layout and whether it should be horizontal, vertical or diagonal…? How about color(s) of stripes together. Does the garment look like a rugby shirt or kids clothes? And then the stripes’ ability to play well with others. Let’s explore.

I love stripes, so I disagree with the card caption, but I also understand the reason why horizontal stripes may not be the most flattering. It seems to be common sense that in dressing our bodies, long and lean is preferred over short and wide. So from a visual perspective, eyes moving from left to right create width. I get it. But I still like horizontal stripes. Here are some suggestions using stripes in our outfits to best flatter our figures and bring out our best features.

1.) Wear them under a blazer. The horizontal lines are somewhat covered and yet still bring interest to your outfit. This also goes for busy prints. The jacket tones down anything that might feel too edgy or distracting while giving a sharp, pulled together look.download
2.) Mix them with a prints that shares some of the same colors. This helps unify the look without it looking like a mistake. There is nothing like a clean striped shirt, but sometimes a statement necklace or striking scarf can add the finishing touch to a rather classic and traditional look. It will add some fun and bring more color toward your face.download
3.) Look for clothes with diagonal stripes and chevrons. There is a fine line between stripes that make you step back to focus, and those that intrigue your eye. These are busier designs for sure, but also work to camouflage bumps and bulges (if you have any). They also keep the eye moving and are a little more interesting and unexpected. You will probably have an immediate reaction to size and use of stripes and will know whether or not you like it or dislike it.Striped topStriped bias knit topdiagonal stripe dress
chevron skirtdiagonal maxi

For the sewist, I wrote a post showing Vogue 8819, which is a great pattern for using stripes in an eye catching way. My favorite use of stripes is to place the pattern pieces on the diagonal (bias) and use them on neckbands, cuffs, sleeves, skirts, dresses and maybe more. Often, the diagonal or bias drape of the fabric is spectacular. A little practice is needed matching stripes or handling the wiggly seam allowances, but the results are worth it.V8819
4.) Don’t be afraid of mixing thick with thin stripes. Again, be on the lookout for ways the two stripes compliment each other. Is is color? Theme? It needs to look intentional and not like you got dressed in the dark.stripes thick thin

Above, the vest adds some interest to the outfit using a neutral grey vest with a ‘stripe’ created with a contrasting fabric while working well with the cobalt pieces. The outfit might look a little simple without the vest, and the varying stripes add some interest. If the vest had been cobalt, it might run into the problem of Miss Matchy Matcherson. Can’t have that.strip with stripescarf

Stripe thin thick

5.) Use vertical stripes when possible to lengthen the look of the body. It is not as common to find the stripes running vertically because many fabrics are woven with the stripes running from selvage to selvage(crosswise), especially knits. If you are lucky enough to find fabric with the stripes running the lengthwise of the fabric (parallel to the selvages), it will probably be a woven fabric and suitable for pants, skirts or shirts. Men’s shirt fabric is a good example of stripes running lengthwise.verticalsThere is also something called princess seaming that runs from the shoulder vertically down the length of the dress creating a vertical line. This dress is an interpretation of this kind of design line in pattern making that has been used in color blocking, creating a very slimming silhouette. You can read more about princess seaming in my previous posts on the coordinates pattern by McCalls #5890 pattern and the Simplicity #4032 Jackets.
vertical striped dressHere is the question: What is your stripe preference?stripe comparisonsketch comparisonLooking at all of the images in this post, do you have a favorite or do you like them all?

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