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Harriett Hendren: Stripes are everywhere — and more flattering than we thought

As in fashion, stripes for the home are bigger and bolder than ever. This  hallway, sporting bold black-and-white stripes from top to bottom, was  featured in the March issue of Country Living magazine.
As in fashion, stripes for the home are bigger and bolder than ever. This hallway, sporting bold black-and-white stripes from top to bottom, was featured in the March issue of Country Living magazine.

For the past few seasons, stripes have gained ground as a versatile basic for the wardrobe. Always a staple for resort wear's nautical-style pieces, stripes are now the go-to look all year with cardigans, sweaters and scarves. And the new crop of stripes is anything but tame.

Look for bold, colorful horizontal lines in upcoming spring collections from Derek Lam's new 10 Crosby line.

At Fendi, where even the catwalk was decorated in stripes, sandals, blazers and feminine dresses with modern cuts bore lines of lovely muted colors.

The idea already has trickled down to moderate-priced retailers. The spring collection from Loft includes a trench coat with broad horizontal citrus-green bands, and blouses with multicolored lines, also horizontal.

But you're probably thinking: Whoa, Harriett, everyone knows that horizontal stripes will make me look fat. Think again. According to research by British psychologist and visual-perception expert Peter Thompson of the University of York, horizontal stripes are more flattering than verticals on the imperfect physique.

To update a stripey look, mix patterns by pairing a striped tee, for instance, with a floral-print skirt. Just stay within the same color family to keep from a fashion crash and burn. Or pair a black-and-white striped cardigan with an unexpected color, such as a pair of vibrant yellow skinny jeans.

Fashion, of course, is not alone in its love of lines. Interior designers have long used stripes in every room. Dorothy Draper, who started her design business in 1923, famously combined bold black-and-white stripes with colorful patterns at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia.

And after years of favoring putty-beige interiors, home décor magazines are showing walls, floors and ceilings painted with broad horizontal stripes. In stores, shoppers will find colorful stripes on everything from poufs to ceramic mugs.

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