Stripes bring a sense of summer, becoming all-time favorites owing to the numerous ways you can wear them. Stripes are a wardrobe staple for every woman, regardless of whether her style is feminine, classic, eclectic, minimal, or a mix of these.
Every season, timeless iterations such as the nautical, Breton stripe, and “French-girl” stripes abound, mostly in T-shirts and cardigans (check out this guide to wearing the cardigan!), sweaters, and dresses. Similarly, you can find smart iterations of pinstripes, pencil stripes, candy stripes, and awning stripes (also known as the banker stripe) in more formal pieces such as tailored blazers, suits, trousers, and crisp button-down shirts.
Whether you’re looking to replenish your wardrobe with wear-anywhere basics, add a few nuanced knits and dresses to your outfit rotation, or want a few fresh end-of-summer styles to transition into your fall wardrobe, keep reading for a guide to wearing striped outfits.
Types of Stripes
Vertical stripes, known to have a slimming effect, can be found in various clothing items, including vertical striped dresses, pants, tops, and more. What is the best way to wear vertical stripes? It’s simple: wear them in a print-on-print look as you style the vertical stripes from head to toe, or pair them with solid bottoms to keep the focus on the design feature of the striped essentials.
Horizontal stripes are among the most popular and widely worn types of stripes, and they make a stylish addition to any wardrobe. However, there is a persistent myth that horizontal stripes make you look wider, but if styled correctly, these stripes are appealing and make for a great sartorial style.
Do you want to go out in a striped maxi dress or a horizontal striped dress? Go all-in!
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Nothing we can say about candy stripes can adequately describe these stripes’ colorful, vibrant offerings. With designers such as Laura Kim and Jason Wu incorporating candy stripes into their collections and street fashion icons succumbing to the frenzy, there is little doubt that the trend left an impression and is still going strong.
As the name implies, hairline stripes are the thinnest stripes, their diameter usually equaling the width of a hair. Because a single hairline stripe would be hard to spot, the patterns surrounding these types of stripes combine several of them to form a bolder variant of the stripes.
This type of stripe is made up of brightly colored stripes in clashing colors that vary in thickness to create the effect of multiple colors being used. These stylish stripes are mostly seen in home furnishings, but they can also be found in various clothing pieces, such as a horizontal striped dress, a vertical striped dress, or a striped shirt dress.
Chevron stripes, also spelled cheveron, are inverted V-shaped stripes. Consider horizontal stripes but in a zig-zag pattern. Chevron stripes are renowned for being used in army clothing in the past, and they can be found on various insignia.
Nowadays, you can find them in various clothing items, ranging from a striped maxi dress to a stylish striped shirt dress.
As the name implies, pinstripes are extremely thin stripes (no wider than around 1/18 inch) that run parallel to one another and were originally only found on men’s suiting and pants. These stripes are now a fashion staple, appearing in overcoats, pants, jackets, blazers, etc. From a casual outing to a workwear look, you can pair them to your advantage.
These stripes are something that we all have in our closets. Among the most popular types of stripes, the Breton stripes were first introduced in 1858 as the uniform for all French navy seamen, with the original concept including 21 stripes, one for every victory of Napoleon Bonaparte. Coco Chanel incorporated Breton stripes into her 1917 nautical catalog, taking inspiration from the sailors of the French Riviera.
This stripe type is a distressed variation of the pinstripes, sleek and clear. The chalk stripe, which is included in the formal stripes but is also widely used in informal clothing, has broken gaps that give the stripe a fuzzy effect.
How do you wear distinctive chalk stripes? Add an outerwear layer over your basic tee and jeans to elevate your look.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Your Next Striped Outfit
Wearing an ensemble with multiple lines can be unflattering and confusing due to stripe orientation, placement, width, and color, especially if it doesn’t complement your body type or the desired look you’re attempting to achieve. As a result, it pays to put in a little more effort and thought when buying your next striped outfit.
To assist you with your dilemma, we’ve compiled a list of style tips on wearing stripes correctly.
Vertical or Horizontal?
Vertical stripes are your buddy if you want to lengthen the length of your body visually. These stripes are a safe bet for most body types because the continuous lines downward fool the eye into thinking you’re taller than you are. On the other hand, horizontal stripes emphasize the width and are better suited to slender body types who wish to appear more shapely.
Diagonals Are Exciting
Though less common, diagonal stripes are a great way to up your stripe game. They are appropriate for people who are self-conscious about their midsection because they visually reduce and distort the area’s prominence.
Size Is Important
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Another thing to consider is the thickness of the striped lines. Thinner stripes make you appear slimmer, while thicker stripes make you appear wider. Also, if you’re going for a form-fitting outfit (like a bodycon dress), thinner stripes may be more flattering. Thicker strips have a more dramatic and bolder effect — but if that’s what you’re going for, we’re not going to judge.
Consider Where It Will Go
Now that you’ve decided on the stripe size and orientation, it’s time to think about where it will go. Try a sweater with a single vertical stripe across the arms and chest to make the area appear larger. This style is ideal for individuals with a pear or triangular body shape because it balances with their wider hips.
On the other hand, this design is not appropriate for people who are self-conscious about their broad shoulders.
Consider the Color
After that, consider the color of the stripes. Generally, dark colors fade away, and bright colors appear closer and larger to you. Choose a dress that cleverly uses black’s slimming effect for the sections that hug your body above the waist (and hide your flaws).
Want to enhance your experience of wearing a striped dress that hugs your body? Here’s a guide to shapewear that can help!
Combine Color and Placement
Now put the previous two fundamentals together and put them to use. A sweater with a block of black at the chest and shoulders and white stripes is a prime example of how to play up your strengths if you have an inverted triangle body type. This will make them appear slimmer, while the (brighter) stripes that follow will create the illusion of wider hips and chest, which is ideal because it reduces the emphasis on the broad shoulder region.
Suppose you’re just getting started with stripes and aren’t sure if you want to go all out, don’t. Instead, start small by wearing a pair of striped pants. The vertical stripes along the hems add stature and lengthen the silhouette.
Colors Aren’t Something to Be Afraid of
Consider the color combination once you’ve gotten used to stripes. The most common color combinations in stripes are black or navy and white. Why? It’s an elegant and timeless combination that will suit most, if not all, people.
But don’t go all rainbow from head to toe: pair your colorful striped pants with a solid colored top for a more polished look.
Women’s Stylish Striped Outfits Examples
White and Blue Stripes
White and blue stripes on a clean-cut top are the quintessential denim stripe (from cut-off shorts to vintage-wash jeans). Consider it your ideal white T-shirt, but with few horizontal lines for a preppy touch. This essential style is among the most versatile and timeless striped outfit styles you’ll own, so incorporating a few different styles into your wardrobe is necessary.
Striped Color Blocks
Color block stripes are bold and graphic for an elevated take on Maritime style, being a little punchier and wider than their narrow- and mid-lined counterparts. While there are numerous colors to pick from, from salmon pinks and vibrant yellows in the summer to olive green and autumnal orange in the fall, we can’t help but recommend a classic white-and-navy color combination for truly timeless style. A crewneck tee, a cardigan, a mock-neck knit, and a long-sleeve sweater are timeless pieces.
Cardigans are a go-to for effortless style, but they’re anything but prim, or even worse, lackluster when they’re striped. For the ultimate in cardi-chic, look to current styling cues and modern designs. A fitted cardigan looks great when tucked into high-rise bottoms when worn as a shirt.
A cashmere cardigan with narrow to wide lines instantly evokes a modern mood and acts as a dynamic layer with simple and clean basics. Opt for an oversized silhouette and pair it with jeans and a perfect white T-shirt for a low-key striped look.
Striped Button-Down Shirt
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Another wardrobe staple that we frequently reach for polished style is a striped button-down shirt. From the hairline to the balanced and pencil lines, the flexibility of a crisp button-down is unrivaled, whether worn open in place of a jacket over a slip dress, half-tucked into oversized jeans, or tucked into waist-skimming bottoms.
Look for blouses, tanks, and tops with linear designs for a more feminine or dressed-up take on striped outfits. When you want to create an elegant look that you can wear to work or an event, pair your top with tailored trousers, gold jewelry, and a sleek designer bag.
Striped Bathing Suit
A striped bathing suit will naturally set a chic, nautical tone when getting away to the sea, foraying out on a boat, or spending time poolside. A retro-inspired or minimal maillot bikini will read most elevated in navy, blue, or black and white lines. Have a striped tee or sweater and sailor-style pants on hand after a swim or sun soak for an entirely masterful take on Maritime style.
When it comes to striped outfits, shorts may be considered a “sleeper” category, but they’re a true staple piece in warmer months. Resort wear varieties pair as well with swimwear as they do chic tops, loose shirts, and everyday tees, whether you choose a pinstripe, seersucker, or pencil design. We recommend soft, neutral tones and lightweight fabrics like cotton, linen, and twill to beat the heat in style.
The ultimate “fashion-girl” stripe is one with directional design—think spliced, color-blocked, mix-and-match, or asymmetrically constructed. This pattern is a staple at brands such as La Ligne, Monse, and Palmer/Harding. If you’re looking for a subtle shirt, a truly unique dress, or an asymmetrically striped design, a striped piece from these cult-favorite labels will help you nail the directional look.
Striped pants are another classic wardrobe essential, whether for cocktails, work, or a warm-weather getaway. Most iterations are extremely versatile and often surprisingly so—you can get multiple ensembles out of the same pair by incorporating distinct styling pieces to differentiate your looks. You can don the same pair of trousers with heels and a structured top for a meeting or event, then switch to a skin-baring top and sandals for a vacation.
Is there another option? Breaking up a striped pantsuit by wearing the bottoms on their own.
Pinstripes, like striped shirts, are a mainstay for tailored aesthetics, with oversized blazers being a popular piece among trendsetters recently. With the menswear impact, you can take this style in two chic ways: a sharp pinstripe suit with very little extras or an exaggerated blazer paired with feminine pieces such as a slip dress or a bralette for contrast. Try a roomy pinstripe blazer with sharp sunglasses, a crisp white button-down, and pumps for a nostalgic power-lunch look.