A perennial wardrobe fail-safe. You can do no wrong in a simple bi-colour stripe. When I am at a total loss for inspiration a Bretton T and jeans combo allows me to feel that I can keep my head high amongst the morning chaos. This classic top originated from Brittany. The 1858 Act of France saw navy seamen in the area given a striped woven top bearing 21 horizontal stripes (one for each of Napoleon’s victories) as a uniform. Merci to Chanel, who, upon seeing the seaman’s attire during a holiday, felt inspired to create a nautical themed collection in 1917. Thus, possibly starting the biggest fashion trend in modern history. Countless designers and icons are now intertwined with this look such as Picasso, Jean Paul Gaultier, Brigitte Bardot. Who wouldn’t want that connection when stumped for an outfit?!
However, stripes succeed besides the seaside and my Saturday sartorial saviour... Beyond the Bretton there are multi colours, (a la Paul Smith or Missoni fame) men’s shirting, pyjamas and pinstripes. Whilst I won’t bore you with a history lesson, it might be interesting to know that our affection for the stripe could be attributed to a rebellious streak… as the French social historian Pastoureau describes, "in the European Middle Ages striped fabric took on strong connotations of deviance and abasement. The cloth of social outcasts; servants, court jesters, prostitutes, madmen, and criminals. This connotation is with us still; a jumpsuit or a tunic-and-trousers combination garment made of broadly stripes, in either horizontal or vertical stripes, instantly carries the association of prisoners, convicted criminals. A loose, lightweight pyjama-like suit of brightly striped cloth, with a broad collar and cuffs, is the iconic outfit of the clown”. I’m not sure what this says about me. I have lots in my wardrobe and always seem to find justification for more. Probably because of the variety and versatility. Today, stripes are a confident statement worn head-to-toe or use them as a palette cleanser between a rather heavy starter and main course. This sorbet of the pattern world looks great in any outfit.
Pair a ruffle shirt with sportswear and heels as the formidable Tamu McPherson above. Below, the stripe robe worn as a top by Caroline Daur to relax a a sexy skirt with fishnets.
Shirting stripes are the lines I wish to travel down today… They are having their particular moment in the sun this year. It's been building momentum for a while now. Beginning with pyjama dressing, sleepily migrating its way from the catwalk to the mainstream. Then came designer OTM Demna Gvasalia’s exaggeration of a man’s shirt for Vetements and Balenciaga Fall 2016. This Spring/Summer the high street is awash with shirting stripe tops blouses and reimagined men's shirts. Haven’t got one yet? Well, first of all check if the man in your house has one to borrow (nab). Otherwise see a variety of options for all budgets by scrolling below.
I think the best thing about stripes are their versatility. Try full pyjamas for day with elevated slippers and watch as collegues are aghast with your sartorial splendour (and envy as you comfortably slink around the office). A 3-in-1, dress up with a tulle skirt or down with denim. Below, Resort 18 catwalk inspiration.
Pandora Sykes shows how to confidently style summer shirting for Man Repeller. Read the article here. Which brings me on nicely to shirt dresses and dressing… They are fantastic as a transitional piece. Bare-leg now to layer over leggings, trousers and under sweaters later. If you are worried that this item is a flash in the pan, don’t be. The resort shows have confirmed a love affair with this cotton cloth is set to continue. A shirt or shirtdress is a wise wardrobe investment in my opinion. With endless styling options. Enjoy x