Stripes are stylish, bold, unisex, and NOISY. Frankly, you can’t miss them, and even more this season, as countless fashion designers and brands made them their print of honor.
But stripes aren’t something new. They have been ruling the fashion world for over 150 years, thanks to the likes of Coco Channel and Jean Paul Gaultier. Difficult to imagine there was a time when only the marginalized, excluded, and those with dishonorable and disruptive employment were barred. Rewinding the time to the medieval times, striped clothing was only worn by criminals, crippled, insane, prostitutes, butchers, minstrels, and clowns. So how did it become a fashion statement?
The stripe took time before shaking off its connotations of insubordination. From the late 15th to the early 16th century, the lower classes, butlers, and chambermaids mainly wore it. Somewhere along the way, it became the iconic print of the seaman.
It was only toward the end of the 18th century that stripes became chic, with Queen Victoria dressing her four-year-old son, Albert Edward, in a sailor suit to board the Royal Yacht. Ever since, it was popularized and, eventually, worn by swimmers.
One might think its association with insubordination led to the adoption of the tricolored stripe as a symbol of rebellion and liberation during the revolutions in the United Stated and France.
But it’s only since the beginning of the 20th century that the stripe evolved as a true fashion statement, when Coco Chanel, inspired by workers in a marina during a trip to the French Rivera, created a nautical collection she sold in France. Later, almost every group adopted it. Artists, like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, made it their own, bringing it back for the male population.
Today, men and women come in all stripes. From wide to thin, horizontal to vertical, stripes can complement every shape. Those who are unsure about wearing more stripes than the Zimbabwean flag should opt for thin stripes. We recommend also pairing them with a solid jacket or button-up. The larger shape will opt for vertical stripes that elongate. And last, strips are bold enough; avoid pairing them with another statement clothing.