Speaking of Style: Line Up!

| By JeanAnn Taylor |

Read any fashion magazine and you’ll find that stripes are “in” this spring. Actually, stripes are a timeless spring and summer style staple. Stripes are classic, which means they remain fashionable year after year.

The Breton shirt was introduced in 1858 as the uniform for French sailors. The shirt had 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories. The blue and white stripes were thought to be easily spotted in the event that a sailor fell overboard.

Wearing stripes as a fashion statement began in 1917 after Coco Chanel visited the French coast. She was inspired by the blue-and-white-striped pullover Breton tops worn by French sailors. Chanel’s nautical collection included striped pullover tops paired with long flared trousers. The casually designed top offered a refreshing trend for fashionable ladies who enjoyed seaside destinations and freedom from the restrictive corset. Chanel’s influence continued. Audrey Hepburn, Bridget Bardot, Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe were all photographed wearing stripes. These celebrities helped make stripes the fashionable classic it remains today.

What is considered new for 2017 is the popularity of multi-colored stripes with varying degrees of widths. Wavy lines and the chevron are fun twists on the basic straight stripe. These high-charged stripes offer movement and excitement. Unexpected color combinations, patterns and widths can be found on unexpected garments such as trench coats, jumpsuits and pencil skirts.

A common misconception among women is that stripes will make us look larger than we actually are. While this can definitely be true, it’s also true that all women can wear stripes attractively when a few basic principles are followed. As with all clothing choices, consider your body shape, lifestyle and personality. Next, consider the fabric. Clingy knit fabric will show your sexy curves as well as any lumps and bumps you may prefer to conceal. Depending on the look you are going for, woven fabric made into a structured garment can give you a more polished look.

An important aspect to consider is where the stripes actually fall on your body. Be aware that wide stripes draw attention to the body part on which they lay. Narrow stripes are less conspicuous. Look into a full-length mirror, to insure that your stripes lay in a pleasing manner. It is also advisable to avoid wearing a wide white stripe across your derriere.

Your body shape is the primary factor in deciding which stripes are the most flattering. Horizontal striped tops typically work best on small-busted women with narrow shoulders. If you are bottom heavy, wearing a horizontally striped top with a solid color skirt or slacks, will balance your figure by creating the illusion of broader shoulders. Vertical stripes work well for petite women as they elongate the body and draw the eye up and down rather than side to side. Diagonal stripes create movement and can be flattering on nearly every body type.

If wearing stripes alone — as in a pullover dress or jumpsuit — feels too daring, you can break up the boldness with a cardigan, scarf or vest. One strikingly attractive look is a solid black dress paired with a black and white striped cropped jacket. Accessories are a great way to include stripes in your wardrobe. Striped shoes, bags and wide-brimmed hats will add fun and personality to your look. You can also mix and match stripes with florals, polka-dots and paisleys. This look is best pulled off when you choose complementary colors, and limit the number of different patterns to two.

Stripes often have high color contrasts. Wearing bold stripes such as hot pink and black, will give you a dramatic look. Other stripe color combinations are soft and subtle. A mint stripe against a darker mint green background will quietly impart chic sophistication.

Mixing vertical stripes with horizontal stripes can look interesting and minimize the widening effect of horizontal stripes. Squares of striped fabric pieced together so that the directions are alternating is also an interesting new style concept.

If you have avoided stripes because you’ve been misinformed about their wearability, take a chance and make a spicy statement with stripes this spring.

JeanAnn Taylor

JeanAnn Taylor is a style expert and home organizer. She can be reached at jeananntaylor119@gmail.com.

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker