Stripe It Chic: How To Wear Stripes

by Jessica Burgess


Channel your inner Edie Sedgwick and Brigitte Bardot this spring by making Parisian-haute fashion statements with stripes. The beauty of stripes isn't found only in their rich fashion history, but in their endless versatility as well. Stripes are acceptable for all types of occasions—indoors or out, winter or summer, casual or formal. Throw on a blazer and a long necklace over a striped tee to dress up for a meeting with a client, or tuck a striped top into a fierce, high-waisted red skirt and slip on black open-toed heels for a night of city street strolling. 

Origin of Breton Stripes

The timeless trend of stripes originated in Brittany, France, where French Navy seaman were uniformed in navy-and-white striped knit shirts. The original striped shirt, also known as the marinière or matelot, was designed with 21 stripes, each symbolizing a Napolean victory. Sailors, seafairers and workers relied on the wool and cotton garments for their simplicity, practicality and easy-to-spot pattern while out at sea.

According to The New York Times Style magazine, the striped shirt transitioned from mariner's uniform to fashion statement once

Coco Chanel

adopted the look for her 1917 nautical collection. Into the 1930s, stripes were paired with long-flared trousers, scarves, blazers and shorts. Once legendary stars such as Pablo Picasso, Brigitte Bardot, James Dean, Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol embraced stripes into their wardrobe, the pattern was defined as forever in vogue.

Color Blocking

Wearing stripes is an effortless, yet creative, expression. For a look that never fails, pair a striped tee with jeans and sneakers. Color block a boat neck, long-sleeved striped shirt or tee with a high-waisted cobalt skirt or honey-colored shorts. Pair stripes with a scarlet red or bamboo-colored cardigan and play it neutral on the bottom with black leggings or jeans. Red Converse sneakers, royal blue slippers or cherry-colored heels also stylishly accent a stripy outfit in 

spring-and-summer nautical style


Opposites Attract

In the 1960s,

Pablo Picasso

unapologetically wore stripes with brown-checkered wool pants in Cannes, France. It works because he's Picasso. And stripes are stripes. Stripes live according to no style rules, which means feel free to mix and match it up. On a beachy summer vacation, tuck a black and white vertically striped tank into a pleated polka dot skirt.

Power of Denim

Denim, too, doesn't follow any rules and will forever be in style. So when two fashion powerhouses such as stripes and denim converge, the outcome is inarguably stylish. For a breezy, comfortable look, accessorize striped 

dresses from Macy's

with a denim jacket and sparkly flats, or don a striped shirt with boyfriend-cut jeans rolled at the ankles. Since stripes don't have denim boundaries, match a striped long-sleeved shirt with frayed cutoff jean shorts or curve-hugging denim skinnies. Have fun with a casual look by accessorizing with cute jewelry, headbands and scarves from Style Mint and Free People.