Stripe Out!

How To Wear This Season’s Stripe

The good ‘ole Breton stripe: it’s long been a wardrobe staple for both men and women since it came into being over one hundred and fifty years ago as a uniform for French navy seamen. Just like the trench coat, it is one of the few items of clothing that has stood the test of time and emerged from its former utilitarian existence to redefine itself as a go-to wardrobe must-have—and becoming the epitome of Parisian easy-dressing in the process. One of the most versatile garments for both sexes, it can take you from day to night with minimal changes needed to the rest of your outfit. However, 2017 has offered a bolder interpretation of this famed style, as designers have dared to rework the stripe into wider and more playful lengths.

From the so-called “post-Soviet street-wear” of Gosha Rubchinskiy to the politically charged catwalk of Vivienne Westwood, SS17 was awash with stripes in all shapes and sizes. In line with this season’s newfound love of volume and fabric, the menswear shows saw exaggerated and daring stripes dominate the runways. This season, it’s all about making a statement with clashing stripes to achieve a strong and graphic look.

While it is a calling to abandon some of fashion’s hard-and-fast rules, there are some cautionary roadblocks to avoid. The Breton stripe top it is an extremely versatile piece, but probably isn’t the best option for this trend. It’s perhaps too much of a classic and can look clunky if worn with an all-stripe outfit. For a more contemporary—or strategically mismatched—look, think of ways to balance out your clashing stripes. Vertically striped trousers are a ubiquity on the high street at the minute and are a perfect entry-point into this trend. Try offsetting them with a tee bearing a very fine pinstripe rather than one that is similar in shape to your legwear.

There was a noted return to ‘90s power-dressing in the SS17 menswear shows and pinstripe played a key role this season. Deconstructing an all-pinstripe outfit and clashing with a more prominent, thicker, horizontal stripe is key to nailing the ‘new stripe’ trend, as it is best worn when the strips are very obviously different widths and directions. It’s definitely an opportunity to fly in the face of convention, but it’s important to remember that even when more is more, it’s really still all about balance.