Foolproof tips for wearing stripes

Horizontal, vertical, diagonal, mixed: understanding their different effects will earn you stripes and rank among even the most discriminating fashionistas.

Optical illusion

The golden rule: Horizontal stripes add width and volume to an area while vertical stripes elongate the figure and make you look thinner.

  • Use this to your advantage. A plain sweater paired with a straight skirt with horizontal stripes can be a great asset if you have very small hips.
  • Are you five feet? Dresses with vertical stripes on the sides effortlessly lend a few inches of height to your frame.The magic also works with diagonal stripes
  • Diagonal lines nipped at the waist create the impression of a longer, leaner figure. The pattern will also visually enhance the size of the bust.
  • Zigzag patterns are more difficult to wear as they can create the appearance of a fuller figure. Wear this style sparingly.

Wavy stripes? They can be very flattering, but you must try the garment on first to check the fit. Make sure the patterns fall on the right curves to accentuate your best features while drawing attention away from hips, thighs and other problem areas.

The width and colour of lines

The golden rule: Broad lines are considered more casual while thinner stripes and pinstripes convey a more conservative look.

  • Feel free to play with colour and venture beyond the usual marine stripes (blue and white) or classic black and white motifs.
  • Exercise restraint. For example, a balloon skirt with multicoloured stripes will look like a circus tent.

Common mistakes to avoid

  • Wearing stripes from head to toe can look nauseating. You can pull off a striped sweater or a bottom, but don’t combine two striped styles in the same look.
  • The colour of the stripes informs the colour of the rest of your outfit (unless you pair them with jeans).
  • Combining too many different bold designs. You can combine a pattern with a prominent colour but pairing plaid with stripes will look disorienting.
  • If you have a round body shape, wide stripes must be avoided. They will only amplify to your size, even if they’re vertical.
  • Black and yellow stripes can be a dangerous duo — you may end up looking like a bumblebee.

Style tips from the pros

  • Wear diagonal stripes on broad shoulders to minimize their proportion. The same trick works to conceal wide hips.
  • Stripes on the back of a long tunic give the illusion of having a more ample derrière.
  • "Hourglass" panels on a dress, a tunic or jacket, in contrast colours, will make any figure appear slimmer and more slender.
Foolproof tips for wearing stripes
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