Monday, 31 August 2015

Stripes for Spring - August 2015

Stripes in all directions, varying widths and contrasting colours are the fashion trend for this spring/summer.

One of my favourite looks this season is the quintessential black-and-white stripes design. The alliance of these two opposing colours alone not only creates a sophisticated and stylish look but is bold enough to turn heads on any day and, in a linear pattern, the combination is absolutely striking!  

I consider black-and-white stripes a classic neutral thereby, a wardrobe staple because of its  simplicity, making it versatile enough to be paired with almost everything. Plus, black-and-white stripes are unequivocally timeless.

Stripes have actually been around for ages, so it's hard to believe their scandalous past. It is noted that wearing stripes of any kind in Paris during the Middle Ages was frowned upon. The disapproval of stripes was instigated by the arrival of a group of Carmelite monks from Palestine. Wearing their official cloak of brown-and-white stripes they were not gladly received and subsequently, the lined-design became associated with all things immoral and downright evil thus, earning stripes unfairly so, the title "devil's clothing". As such, only transgressors - prisoners, women of the night, troublemakers, those condemned to death and outcasts, even jesters wore striped garments.

Years on, the stigma now faded, the striped pattern served a professional and practical purpose for all seamen from Brittany. Fishermen as well as merchants making the long journey across the Channel to the United Kingdom to sell their produce, wore stripes to be recognisable from afar and more importantly, distinguishable from the waves so they could be easily seen if they fell overboard. In 1858, French law formerly introduced the navy-and-white-striped knitted sweater, known as the "Breton" shirt, as the official uniform for all French Navy sailors in Brittany (officers wore a single colour). Breton legend states that the 21 stripes symbolise each of Napoleon's naval victories against the British. Due to its practicality and comfort, the sweater was naturally adopted by all Breton workers on the marina.

Though, it was the influential Mademoiselle Chanel who took the bold stripes mainstream and lifted them to 'haute couture' level. Upon visiting the southern coast and seeing the men on the marina in their striped sweaters, Chanel fell in love with the simplicity of the design and, in her continued quest to promote casual elegance as the feminine norm created a nautical collection. Thus, in 1917 began the mania for stripes. By the 1950's and 60's, French cinema stars had embraced the stripes and it wasn't long before the trend spilled over to Hollywood with stars like Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot further popularising the lined pattern.

Nowadays, black-and-white stripes are as common as the basic white-tee and a favourite go-to item for me. Here, I have paired my much-loved black-and-white pencil skirt from Forever New with a white tank top and added my black skinny silk scarf from Witchery for a fresh and modish feel. The sleek, fitted cut of the skirt plus the horizontal line-pattern accentuate the curves of the body and the wide black lines against the narrow white lines give off a classic and classy look. Red accessories - shoes, earrings and bag complete the outfit. I also love pairing black-and-white stripes with blue, yellow, pink, tan and emerald green.

For an edgy look, mix it up by wearing stripes-on-stripes; you can pair two items of different width, similar width or in clashing colours together. For a touch of true 70's chic (which is so hot right now), tie a printed silk scarf around your neck or bag.

So, take a linear approach this season and experiment with horizontal, vertical or diagonal, thick or thin, black or white, navy, red or multi-coloured stripes to show off your individuality and personality. One thing is for certain: you will make a bold statement in your stripes. After all, bold is beautiful!

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

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