Tina, here.

My last trip to the lake I found myself doing my best French girl on the Riviera routine in Breton stripes and capri sandals.

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide

Stripes are difficult to wear because common sense says horizontal stripes make you look wide. So we're gonna talk about how to pull off stripes without widening your frame.

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Here are the common pitfalls as questions: How wide should stripes be? Are vertical stripes better than horizontal? Is more than two colors ok or should you stick to just two? I'm wearing my Saint James Dress (with UV protection) from Halsbrook, which I featured here this spring.

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide

Everyone acknowledges that horizontal stripes can make you appear wider than you are, and vertical stripes can make you appear taller. Need scientific proof? There's a study on that. Scientist Val Watham documented results that "show that vertical stripes make people look taller, while horizontal hoops make them look wide - but plain black was the most slimming of all."  Val was pushing back on another so-called study that said horizontal stripes make you look thinner. To which everyone who has ever worn clothes said, we're pretty sure that's bogus. That doc later clarified that what he really meant was that narrower horizontal stripes look better than wider stripes. No kidding.

See what we're talking about? Now, in real life, as in when a human is wearing stripes, there are a lot more variables, like fabric content for one, and special circumstances. But this is a pretty good illustration. Refer to Val's study for more.

So why the enduring popularity of horizontal stripes? Romanticism, I think. Rugby shirts. Sailor shirts. Breton shirts. Each one of these categories conjures up stories of the adventure and excitement we create when we wear them. And they're all horizontal stripes.

The best way to wear horizontal stripes is to stick with the traditional navy and white or black and white.

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide


If you must wear stripes, but they aren't going to do you any favors, throw on an anorak that has some shape at the waist.

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide


What width should your stripes be? What color is your parachute? ha but really. It depends. The wider you are, the narrower the stripes, but not too narrow, or then you make people dizzy.

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide

Another way to wear horizontal stripes is to cinch your waist in with a belt.

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide

Stripes of different widths are flattering on most everyone because breaking up a canvas of fabric with variations of shapes keeps the eye moving, instead of focusing where you don't want the extra attention, like your mid-section for example.

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide

Ok, so I know you may not have a sailor stipe shirt in your closet and you love color and pattern. If you choose stripes, I promise you they will look better if they are variable widths, getting narrower from top to bottom, and even better if they are "washed" or ombre or some other artsy stripe as opposed to perfectly straight-across stripes. Capiche? (for those of you who noticed the crew necks, just add a necklace to cut the neckline)

How To Wear Stripes Without Looking Wide

And my preference will always be white jeans, chinos or a skirt to pair with a top that has both pattern and lots of colors. I don't like busy-body clothing.

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