At last count, I have 24 striped items in my wardrobe, not counting socks. I am almost ashamed to admit this. And some of them are twins in style and color combination. Somehow, when I see a striped garment in a store, it calls my name and whispers that it belongs in my closet next to all its striped relatives–the other tops, pants, and skirts whose sole function is to make me look thinner and feel happier. There are at least 4 reasons to wear striped clothes. Probably more, but 4 that come to mind.
Stripes have emotional power that no other fabric pattern knows. They are snappy, spunky, quirky, impetuous, and comfortable. On a dressy garment, stripes lessen the elegance while maintaining sophistication. In casual wear, stripes suggest sportiness and energy. With complete versatility, stripes can accompany jewelry and heels or shorts and flip-flops. Stripes tease you into picturing yourself in a Ralph Lauren advertisement, lounging by the bay or sitting astride your polo pony, naked-faced and flawless, with your long tresses floating in the wind behind you. Just another day of fun and casual rendez-vous.
Stripes improve your shape. Some women shy away from stripes because they are afraid that lines will widen their appearance and bring unwanted attention to their hips and waists. I have found the opposite to be true. Stripes hide a lot. The trick is to wear the right kind of stripes in the right place. Here’s a little helpful advice:
1. Vertical lines lengthen you, especially if the lines are slim. They also give the illusion of thinness, which is why striped pants are a good wardrobe purchase. I have 2 striped pants (both skinny stripes), one with wide legs and one with thin, cropped legs. They both make me feel thin.
2. Horizonal lines shorten you. Most people think horizontals widen you, but I would differ. Wide lines across the body mask pooching bellies, love handles, and large breasts better than big prints or solids can. Horizontals also shorten tall torsos and balance long, thin body types. They work on skirts, too. In an A-line style, the stripes will drop slightly at the seams, creating a diagonal look. Delightfully deceptive.
3. Combination lines–the fashion market has utilized this technique well. For example, a dress combining vertical lines on the skirt and horizontal lines on the bodice or a combination of diagonals will provide adequate distraction to hide bulges and lengthen or shorten where needed. They can make you fuller where you’re wanting and smoother where you’re full. You know what I mean.
4. Ah! Diagonals! The genius of style. If you don’t have one, go buy a diagonal skirt. Today. You will love it. You will never look better in another skirt, unless you have a perfect figure, in which case you aren’t reading this blog. You’re out modeling.
I have two diagonal striped skirts, one long and one short, whose usage I actually have to pace. I’m afraid I might wear them out, and I’m frightened of not being able to replace them. They’re both knit, too, so the comfort level is through the roof. I could actually sleep in them if I had to. Like a baby.
Striped clothes are a wardrobe staple. I want more stripes. But I read Jen Hatmaker‘s book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess last year, and the chapter on clothing still haunts me. I’ve tried to reduce my striped population, but I’m failing miserably. Stripes are too cheerful. Purging them feels like abandoning my best friends, just when I might need them most.
Well, I did donate a red and white striped Old Navy sweater to Goodwill this spring. It made me feel like an 8-year-old whenever I wore it, so I sent it to live in the great world of color-coded clothing, until someone else with a stripe fetish snatches it off the rack. I wish them many cheerful days in its company.
Stripes are healing, and I’m not being sacrilegious. (Although a case could be made for the balance brought through spiritual and patriotic avenues by the presence of the metaphorical stripe.) Some people have a favorite color, clothing style, or garment; when adorned, it ushers them into their happy place.
My happy place is striped. What’s yours?