Friday, November 4, 2011

Gail Carriger Struggles with The Striped Top

So, there are those who say that for those of use with a Rack, horizontal stripes are out.

Well, I kind of adore the horizontal striped top. I blame Coco, she just made them look so chic and French.

I think that there are ways to get away with this look and not emphasize the rack. A good fit and the right kind of stripes makes all the difference. Here are a few from my collection.

The first is an undershirt, it's a good option if you don't want to draw too much attention, wear something like this under a cardy or a nice fitted blazer so the the stripes are only around your neck drawing attention up to the face.

A vintage 1940s knitted top.

This next shirt works on my rack because of the insubstantial almost textured nature of the strip, a scoop neckline, and details on the sleeve.

I also am always looking for striped shirts where the white is less than the color, as it were.

Cool cotton blouse 1956

This shirt works because the fine nature of the stripe, it's almost like a horizontal pinstripe, from far away it just looks grey and up-close it sometimes makes people seasick.

Some of my favorite tops are those that break up the stripe, again this helps to draw attention away from any possible widening effect while still giving that French feel.

Light cashmere from Max Studio, sorry about the wrinkles. $40 each (I caught a sale)

And here is a retro take on the concept.

Sometimes I will opt for a tight striped vintage sweater to take advantage of the Sweater Girl look of the 1950s. For example I picked this one up at a thrift store for $4 because I couldn't resist the Grease meet Cry Baby appeal.

Of course Coco's classic look was boat neck, more white than dark and very narrow in strip. It was taken from menswear of the day, as was her aesthetic. This is not my personal favorite cut, partly because boat-necks seem to broaden my already over-broad shoulders.

Although I used to have this kind of sweater, I'm not as big a fan of the bold stripe either. I think it's too 80's for me, or perhaps just too much of a statement.

The fashion these days is also to mix stripes and other patterns, which I must say is difficult for me. I think it works OK if you are a skinny little thing going for tough and punky, but on someone of my preportions strips and plaid would look ~ how do I put this? ~ rather vulgar.

So what would I wear stripes with instead? Well for that French chic I keep talking about, just a nice simple black skirt does the trick, if you ask me. Or if it is a navy stripe, how about blue? Or for a little more edge, red.

1970s Sonia Rykiel ensemble via The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

If you are too scared of the horizontal stripe, the vertical stripe is there waiting for you, just as chic, and generally more flattering. Just do be careful with horizontal knitwear it can stretch in an raher obvious manner around the rack thus drawing attention to it.

Of course you could always accessorize with stripes instead.

And lastly, I leave you with one for Alexia.

1878-1880 via The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


  1. I despise horizontal stripes. They do add visual weight and when you're fat like me, it's something to be avoided.

    It's fine for women with tiny waists, but if you have a big old belly like me it's to be avoided like the plague. It just serves to make that belly look even bigger.

    And of course, one should always avoid The Hamburgler look.

  2. OOO! Gail & others, guess what I just found out? Frederick's Of Hollywood now sells bras from sizes 32DD to 42F!

    I suggest staying away from the corset one, however. I find when the straps stretch out the cups tend to flop downwards and let your boobs spill out.

  3. hasn't Fredricks always carried them? Or have they just expanded the sizes they carry? I know I have purchase many bras from them, back when I was younger. LOL

    I avoid horizontals at all costs.I'm too short, busty and fat to wear them without looking like a sausage. And I don't understand why they sell them in so many unattractive styles for larger sizes. Goes along with all those icky flowers and patterns. .

  4. I love a thin horizontal stripe. Totally agreed -- less white to more color is preferable, but I LOVE a good blue and white stripe even when the colors are equal. I just have to make sure the white isn't too sheer, which is tough these days. Basic t-shirt fabric at places like the Gap and Ann Taylor went through an increasingly sheer phase, much to my dismay. They seem to have started making the fabric more opaque again, finally.

  5. A rather bold striped umbrella, modified from a plain black one.

  6. I love that Victorian dress.

  7. I adore Keiko Lyn's entire outfit. And I have been hunting for a lightweight, 3/4 sleeved boatneck striped shirt of my own. I hadn't thought of teaming it with a classic white shirt, but it looks brilliant on that model getting her makeup done!


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