Can you imagine a wardrobe without Stripes?
Historically, in Medieval times only prisoners, clowns, prostitutes, hangmen, and the condemned wore striped garments because the pattern was considered evil—the devil’s cloth.
Although you’d never think of Queen Victoria as a fashion trend-setter, it was she who inspired the popularity of nautical fashion for children during the later half of the nineteenth century when, in 1846, she commissioned a child’s sailor-suit her four-year-old son, Albert Edward, (Bertie), Prince of Wales.
The 1858 “Act of France” made the marinière the official uniform worn by French navy men and seamen. The knitted shirt was navy blue and white with 21 stripes symbolising each of Napoleon’s victories. The French navy was headquartered in Breton at the time, so the style became known as the Breton stripe. So significant is the association with Brittany, that their flag, designed in 1923, also contains the pattern.
But If you love the linear design element in your closet, you’ve really got Coco Chanel to thank.
The traditional stripe acquired serious fashion caché after Mademoiselle Chanel took a trip to the French Rivera where she noticed the workers in the marina wearing their knit navy and white striped shirts. This inspired her to design a nautical collection in 1917 which she sold in France at her Deauville shop.
Her nautical jersey top was meant to be worn with wide-legged trousers, something else women had never worn before. And, parenthetically, lowly jersey had been the domain of men’s undergarments and workwear before Chanel envisioned the fabric for chic and comfortable garments. She shocked the fashion world for not only using it, but to such elegant affect.
Chanel, who loved exercise and the outdoors, brought ease to women’s clothing. She said her designs were for a woman, which at the time, didn’t exist.
One can never be too modern. ~ Coco Chanel, 1961
Chanel introduced stripes to the mainstream and influentially turned the humble workaday pattern into luxury couture for her affluent clientele. Coco Chanel revolutionised fashion with her soft, fluid forms—a direct rebellion to the constricting styles of the day, likeThe New Look by the House of Dior.
Since then, the stripe has been adopted and adored by everyone from artists such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol; to movie stars like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Brigitte Bardot; and embraced by designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, and perhaps most famously, Jean Paul Gaultier.
Stripes are bold and powerful, fun and whimsical, or effortlessly elegant, depending on the colours and the style of fashion they’re decorating. Stripes in all forms are a strong trend for SPRING 2018. Here are a few I’ve fallen for:
ATTICO: Saks Fifth Avenue
THEORY Essential Striped Button-Down Shirt: The Bay
CAROLINA HERRERA Look 11: Carolina Herrera;
MaxMara Whitney: Luisaviaroma
THE SLEEP SHIRT: Barney’s
SEE MY OTHER SPRING 2018 FASHION POST: Spring For Dots