Landon, Help! I Feel Like I Can't Wear Horizontal Stripes

Photo: Courtesy of Nordstrom.
Abbey Lee writes: "Lately, I’ve noticed horizontal stripes on everyone around me. I’ve always been taught that horizontal stripes are a no-no and make you look wider than you are , but even still, I keep seeing girls wearing stripes! I have a wide ass and a DD chest, so I just feel like this look isn't for me. How can I wear horizontal stripes and a fedora without looking like a chubby little sailor?"

I'll refrain from commenting on society's fear of gaining weight (whether it be from a 10-pound-adding camera or a stressful week and a full refrigerator), because that's an entirely different article. But, it's time to stop blaming the clothes. When I'm walking around the Refinery29 offices or even down the street, I don't look at women wearing horizontal stripes and think they're "bigger" than when I see them without stripes. That's not to diminish how you feel in your clothes —  because it's a valid, legitimate thing to feel like your clothes aren't doing you a service. But let me help you think about stripes (and especially striped shirts) differently, because that could be a step to getting over your fears.

The first time the modern striped shirt appeared as a fashion trend was in 1917, when Coco Chanel debuted them in Paris as a response to fashion's heavily-corseted approach after a trip to France's Southern coast. Her shirts were inspired by the Parisian fisherman she saw working the docks, and she admired how utilitarian and hardy they looked. It was one of the first times women's fashion took elements from men's clothing, and we've always considered them to be a feminist statement. They've also been the uniform of generations of counter-culturalists and rebels, from Pablo Picasso and Ralph "Sonny" Barger, the founder of the Hell's Angels, to the Beat Generation and Warhol's Factory guests. A nearly 100-year history as varied as that can only mean one thing: horizontal stripes make you look cool, so who cares if they makes you look "wider."

If you're still unconvinced, Alison Freer, author of How To Get Dressed, has more practical advice about choosing the right stripe that creates a balanced illusion: "A good equation to follow for stripe placement is 10 percent of the darker color and 90 percent of the lighter." My answer to her little algorithm is Amour Vert's 'Françoise' top above. It follows the 90/10 rule, it's ferociously soft, and you can take it from day to night in a flash with a little heel and a daring mini.

I hope this helps. See you next Saturday.
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