10 Ways To Incorporate Stripes Into Your Wardrobe

Like an old Taylor Swift song, stripes never go out of style. As a result, the pattern has cemented its place in the fashion industry, regularly featuring on runways in Paris, New York, Milan, and London. According to Vogue, stripes dominated the scene in 2022, appearing in various colors, textures, and sizes. Well-loved by luxury designers like Carolina Herrara, Balmain, and Chanel, stripes are the pattern of the season. But, believe it or not, there was a time when stripes would have never been considered high fashion or even chic. The pattern symbolized the lower class and social outcasts during the European Middle Ages. As a result, striped attire was reserved for servants, prostitutes, prisoners, and court jesters (via Love to know)

Today, fashion lovers can't imagine a world without stripes. "Stripes are always the best-loved pattern in every women's wardrobe; they look good in any style," New York-based fashion stylist Luciana Spatola told The List. Spatola has used stripes to create a variety of looks and thinks they are a pattern that looks good on everyone. But elevating your style with stripes is more challenging than it looks. How do you get it right? International personal stylist Traci Jeske told The List that the secret to pulling off stripes "is knowing what stripe works best for you, your body silhouette, your lifestyle, and your personality. Once you've figured that out, you will be striping it up everywhere you go." Here are tips to help you earn your fashion stripes.

Throw it back to the classic Breton stripe

Initially worn by sailors on the coast of Brittany in France, the classic Breton stripe caught the eye of French designers in the 1920s and has become a chic wardrobe staple. Well-loved by British royal Princess Catherine Middleton and celebrities like Catherine Bell from Hallmark's "The Good Witch," the Breton stripe is a classic and elegant way to pull off stripes. In an episode of "Closet Confessions," fashion expert Trinny Woodall says her number one rule when wearing a Breton top is "don't pull stripes down." Instead, she says striped tops should be tucked-in to elongate the legs (via YouTube). In addition, Woodall recommends pairing a Breton shirt with high-rise pants or a skirt and recommends wearing red lipstick with stripes. According to Vogue, modern Parisians have revitalized Breton stripes by combining Breton with baggy white jeans, "It" bags, and sunglasses.

While many style lovers insist it was Coco Chanel that made the Breton striped shirt trendy, Chanel expert and fashion historian Dr. Lourdes Font credits the popularity of the Breton stripe to the 1920s modernization of textiles in France (via Frenchly). Although Chanel was not the first to incorporate stripes into her collection, it was a photo of Chanel wearing a Breton striped top and pants, taken in 1928, that associated her with the popularity of stripes. Whatever way it became popular, it's clear that the striped top is the go-to fashion item for those who prefer a classic simple look.

Make your power suit a striped suits

From Michelle Obama to Jennifer Aniston, the striped and pinstripe suit has been worn to symbolize status, power, and confidence. Once considered masculine office wear, styled correctly striped suits are perfect for work or formal social outings. However, when choosing a pinstripe suit, you should consider what looks best on your body and what message you are trying to project. According to fashion stylist Sarah Easley, "when buying a suit, the jacket fit is the most important part," she told Forbes. Easley says it's best to avoid suits that need to be tailored to fit your body, and the only thing that should need altering is the sleeve length. This style advice is essential when shopping for a pinstripe suit, as these tend to be masculine. If you want a more feminine yet powerful look, consider a more form-fitting suit and use more feminine accessories to complete your outfit (via Outfit Trends).

Trinny Woodall, CEO of Trinny London, says women who work in a male-dominated environment feel like wearing a pinstripe suit makes them lose their identity. Woodall's solution to reclaiming your style as a woman is all about "tweaking something so that it feels fun," and to do this, she recommends pairing your suit with a "fun little shoe underneath," this can be an elegant heel or a pair of sneakers. According to Woodall, adding white sneakers to a conservative suit gives it an element of "freshness" (via YouTube).

Make striped dresses work for you

A striped dress is a great fashion staple, whether wearing a nautical spring dress or a dress accessorized with flair. Style and beauty guru Gretta Monahan is a fan of striped dresses in summer and says, "Nothing says warm weather like a striped maxi, in either dress or skirt form," per Fox News. Expert stylist Traci Jeske says a striped dress could look beachy by adding a pair of sandals or mules, a bucket hat, sunglasses, and a basket bag. Meanwhile, a knitted striped knit dress with a solid-colored jacket will keep you warm and stylish in the winter. Jeske advises choosing simpler jewelry when wearing a striped dress. "Choose simple pieces that won't take the attention away from your stripes," Jeske told the List.

If you're looking for a striped office dress, go for a shirt dress in a simple green and white stripe, a look that feels both "professional and creative" (via Vogue). A blue or black and white vertical striped dress with a collar is another more formal option, and a corporate look is best finished off with a blazer and heels to add a touch of sophistication. The beauty of selecting the right striped dress is that it can take you from the office to after-work drinks or even a date simply by changing your shoes or jacket. For a transitional look, pair a formal dress with a jeans jacket and white sneakers to make it more casual, per Glamour.

Stripes on stripes

According to Vogue, it's time to avoid the classic stripes type and embrace "the head-to-toe, rainbow-hued, graphic stripes." Wearing stripes with similar colored stripes is one way to go, but clashing contrasting colors is another option featuring on the style pages in 2022. For those who love to experiment with ensembles, the stripe trend will be a fun way to add a bit of pizzazz to an everyday outfit. Stylist Trinny Woodall advocates for trying different stripes to see what works best on your body type. "It's all about trying on, taking off," says Woodall (via YouTube).

Although stripes are on trend, pulling off a fashion-forward look with two types of stripes requires an eye for fashion. Wearing stripes on stripes is all about what makes you feel comfortable, so the first step is to find the type of stripes you like and pair them in different ways to see what look flatters your body type. If you are shorter and have a smaller frame, can accentuate your figure and create a charming look. Fashion editor and personal stylist Shelly Vella told Marie Claire that wearing a striped bottom and top "is a super cute look on the petite." Vella recommends pairing a Breton top with wide-leg crop pinstripe pants for a "fresh and timeless" outfit. Taller women should opt for a solid-colored wider belt to break up a stripe-on-stripes look, while petite women should go for a thinner or smaller belt (via "Closet Confessions").

Layered stripes can be fun and fashionable

Stripes can be fun to layer with other designs, like pastel florals for summer or a warm plaid print for winter. According to style director Charles Manning, "stripes go with everything," as long as you style your outfit correctly by focusing on matching the color scheme rather than the prints you are wearing. In addition, Manning says, "if the colors look good together, more often than not, the prints will look good together too" (via Cosmopolitan). So if you are ready to take your stripe game to the next level, pair your favorite striped item with another pattern, but remember the golden rule, it's all about the color scheme synergy (via YouTube).

If wearing stripes with other prints is too much for you, the answer is "layering stripes over neutral basics" (via Harper's Bazaar). You can also opt for a more minimalist look or classic look by wearing a basic white T-shirt, a long-sleeve navy and white striped cardigan, and a red scarf for a splash of color. If you still want to experiment with wearing stripes with other prints but don't want the patterns to clash too much, opt for solid-colored accessories like a one-tone belt to divide stripes from other prints and create a less busy look. According to Marie Claire, stripes and camouflage prints can work well together, and when you can't decide between patterns, you should "just wear them all at once!"

Go bold or go home

Navy, red and white are the most common colors for horizontal stripes, but why settle for traditional stripes when you can experiment with stripe colors and designs for an even more intense pop of color?  

If you are ready to take your stripe training wheels off, it's time to be bold and wear stripes in a fun way. If you are a fashion lover, you'll enjoy experimenting with the season's stripes, and choosing your ensemble based on the texture, color, and style of your stripes is an exciting way to shop. 

To successfully wear stripes, keep in mind the tenor of the occasion or event you are attending. Colorful rainbow or abstract stripes are suitable for celebrations and fun social outings but might not be appropriate in the office (via Vogue). Chloe Forde, a London-based fashion stylist, says that she often uses stripes to jazz up any ordinary ensemble. Forde recommends wearing a striped top underneath your everyday basics, like a sweater, and then pulling the sleeves out. "A little touch of color and print at the neckline and cuffs adds interest to an otherwise plain outfit," said Forde (via Marks & Spencer).

French up your stripes

Channel your inner Brigitte Bardot, and make them go "Oh la la!" by embracing a French style stripe look — the most iconic way to wear stripes. Although Breton stripes, ballet flats, and silk scarves have become the cliché French look, "they're still part of every well-dressed Frenchwoman's wardrobe — because they're timeless" (via Vogue). Fashion expert Traci Jeski told The list that mastering the Parisian effortless chic style is as easy as wearing "a Breton striped top and solid pant/skirt accessorized with the French beret and boots with minimal jewelry."

Gwenyth Paltrow's Goop style blog says to pull off a French look in a modern way, pair the classic Breton knit or T-shirt with faded jeans and a pair of ballet flats. Founder of French style brand Jac Cadeaux, Claudia Stahl, says the French way of dressing is about "mixing various bits and pieces in a very nonchalant way." Stahl says the French wear what suits them rather than focus on trends, and they prefer a versatile wardrobe, so they will dress in a striped Breton shirt up with heels and a blazer and down with a pair of Chanel flats (via Financial Review). According to the French women's lifestyle platform Leonce Chenal, "Parisians do not wear more than one print at the same time in an outfit," so if you want to pull off an authentic Parisian look, don't mix and match stripes with other patterns.

Vertical and horizontal stripes

Experimenting with stripes can be fun, but there is a lot to know about choosing the right type of stripe for your body shape. Traci Jeske, an international personal stylist, is experienced in styling different body shapes using stripes. "It is surprising how altering the direction of a straight line can make such a difference to your perceived height and weight and the message you transfer," she told The List.

New York City designer and stylist Bobette Cohnan warns that horizontal stripes can make you look bigger. She recommends fuller-figured women "wear diagonal or vertical stripes," per Fox News. However, Peter Thompson, a psychologist at York University, disagrees and says that it's a myth horizontal stripes make you look bigger. After investigating this fashion optical illusion, he concluded that horizontal stripes don't make you look fat. "It's a subtle effect, but in fact, people wearing vertical stripes look wider than the ones who are wearing horizontal stripes," Dr. Thompson told Belfast Telegraph. So regardless of who is correct, you should wear the stripes you think look best on you.

Accessorize your stripes

Stripes can be easily used as a blank-style canvas, and you can use accessories to create the look you want. International personal stylist Traci Jeske told The List that she loves styling clients using stripes because they are versatile and can be fun and sophisticated. "Stripes generally are the most common pattern in our closets, and you can style them in so many ways," said Jeske. But if you want your stripes to really stand out, Jeske says to stick to neutral tones when adding accessories. "Stay with white, tan, black, and grey; this way, you will be complimenting them [the stripes], but your accessories will not be stealing the show," she adds.

If you pair black and white stripes with solid neutrals on top or bottom, Jeske says you should add a pop of color to your outfit with accessories, like a bag, shoes, headscarf, statement jewelry, or a jacket. Adding color will "add some contrast and personality to your look," says Jeske. You can also get more creative and modern by adding a waist bag or belt bag that will break up any striped top and make your friends do a double-take to compliment you on your stylish and practical choice of accessory (via Marie Claire).

Use makeup to complete your striped look

Makeup can be the secret ingredient when creating a specific style that goes with your striped outfit. It can take you from day to night and accentuate your best facial features. For a chic, effortless French style, New York-based fashion stylist Luciana Spatola told The List you should not overlook the power of red lips, mascara, and blush, calling those makeup items a "winner combo." Fashion expert Trinny Woodall agrees with this selection and says pinky-red blush will give life to your cheeks and make you look alive, and she proclaims that her favorite go-to with stripes is shimmery lipstick. "I can't get away from having a bit of a red lip with a stripe," Woodall said on her famous YouTube fashion series, "Closet Confessions." Woodall loves experimenting with makeup and stripes, toning her lipstick color down for a work look, and wearing bright red lipstick for a more fun casual look.

Although it may seem old-fashioned, Woodall says pairing grey-blue eyeshadow and pink lipsticks when wearing light blue and white stripes works with any eye color. Woodall's fashion mantra when trying on stripes is to try different looks and see what works best for you. She says it's all about "experimentation" (via Closet Confessions). So, if you love stripes as much as we do, then have fun with stripes and try out different makeup looks to see what works best with your favorite striped items.