Friday, March 25, 2011

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Stripe Trend?

I can't go into a store this season without seeing black and white horizontal stripes everywhere. Because of all the image, style and body line analysis classes I've taken and the books I've read over the years, I've discovered just how conditioned I am - B.F. Skinner-style - to avoid them in the same way I avoid mosquitoes and bears. 

What I didn't realize is that most of my clients, no matter how un-fashion-savvy they claim to be, at the very least know to avoid the evils of the horizontal stripe.

Recently, a few clients have thought I was absolutely nuts when I slipped a couple of such pieces onto their racks of clothing to try on. Scary! This was one response from a 49 year old:

"Oh my gosh, my mother 
would kill me if she knew 
 I was buying this!"

Seriously, folks.

(If you want to read more about mothers, ex-boyfriends, 
catty friends and how they never leave our closets, 
check out my article Fashion Exorcism.)

Trends come into our lives to present us with opportunities to get out of our fashion comfort zones. Some are only for crazy fashion daredevils (did anyone buy into triple-pleated pants that were here and gone in about two weeks?) and other trends can be molded to fit any style, coloring and body shape. 

Horizontal stripes can work for pretty much anybody in one way or another - just follow a few simple tips.

1) Dresses and tops should be close to the body, but not clingy. 

Beware! This full skirt with wide stripes may not be your best buddy.

2) A narrow stripe is typically - but not always - more flattering than a wide one.

3) Don't wear the most obvious thick stripes across the widest parts of your body. (The above is not a good choice if you have a thicker torso.)

4) Confuse the eye - not all stripes have to be horizontal. 

5) Even a small amount of stripey-ness goes a long way. 
 Layer a striped cardigan or jacket over something plain or a plain jacket or cardigan over a striped top or dress.  

Kristen Kaleal is a wardrobe stylist, speaker and fashion writer. The black and white stripe trend reminds her of one of her favorite fashion icons, The Hamburglar. Ironically, she is a vegetarian.  *rubble rubble*


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