Summer fashion is full of lines, bold and subtle

07/18/2011 6:11 AM

07/18/2011 6:16 AM

This summer, it’s easy to earn your stripes as a fashionista.

Stripes are everywhere — wide, narrow, pinstripes, bold stripes, subtle stripes. It seems designers didn’t know where to draw the line on stripes because they’ve mixed and matched them and included them in every category from pajamas to eveningwear.

The popularity of stripes in women’s fashion started in the 1920s when Coco Chanel was inspired by the striped shirts the fishermen wore at Deauville, the luxe French resort where she opened her first boutique.

Nautical stripes, now a classic look, come back as often as a ship sails, but nautical stripes are not the only choice. Far from it.

This has been a good season to rediscover how much fun stripes can be. Give up the argument that you can’t wear stripes. There’s a way for everyone to get in lines.

“Stripes always get a bad rap for making you look ‘bigger,’ but they can really bring attention to a part of your body you’re proud of,” says Nally Park, of the Nally & Millie line.

“If you’ve got a great torso you can show it off by using stripes to bring attention to it,” she said. “Plus, stripes are always fun and a great way to bring life to an otherwise ordinary outfit.”

With the deluge of prints that arrived for spring, stripes offer another look that’s not a solid, but also not a print. The fun part is mixing it up. Remember, for a personalized, fun look, there are no rules.

Except one.

Try it on.

Even if the stripes are black and white, worry not. You’re not going to look like a prison inmate. And if you think wide stripes will make you look wide, try some on and take note that the wide stripes, yes, even horizontal ones, can make you look thinner than narrow stripes. Stripes can fool the eye and can define your good curves.

And don’t forget stripes blend easily with what you already have in your closet. They can liven up an outfit that you’ve always worn with a solid time and time again.

The sales personnel at J. Jill in Bradley Fair make the point that most of their merchandise is solid colors. They have few prints and say they’d be surprised if that ever changes. But they have a nice selection of striped T-shirts, which work well with the all the solids they carry.

Fashion consultants agree on a few stripe fashion tips. For example, if you want to look taller, choose vertically striped pants or skirts. Simply team it with a T-shirt of a solid color, and it’s easy chic and very versatile.

If you’re still not convinced, and a striped top, dress, pants or shorts aren’t your cup of tea, shift to the accessories category.

The least you can do is stack up those bangles that are so big this year and create stripes wearing bangles of different colors and textures.

Scarves and handbags are another way to take part in this trend.

Stripes can help you make the transition into fall so take advantage of the many markdowns on summer merchandise. And think ahead about how you can work stripes into your wardrobe for the new season.

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