JCrew Painter Tee in Indigo

The Virtues of Stripes

 
Every woman needs at least one striped jersey in her wardrobe. That may seem like a strong proclamation, so you are owed an explanation.

Horizontal stripes are a simple graphic and always look terrific with jeans and khakis for a casual look. During the warmer months, a striped jersey looks smart on Casual Friday with a jacket, and during the colder months, I like a striped jersey with flannel trousers and a wool cardigan. The great thing about striped jerseys is that they are manufactured year round, year after year, at every price point. If you want to spend a lot of money, there certainly are expensive jerseys out there, but I think a better bet is visiting a mid-priced retailer like JCrew, Talbots, Lands End, or L.L. Bean, finding a cut that suits your figure and then . . . wait for it . . . buying two or three in different colors.

In general, I favor high contrast, narrow stripes: black, navy, grey, red or orange with white.

JCrew Painter Tee in Indigo

JCrew Painter Tee in Indigo

JCrew Short Sleeve Painter Tee in Coral

JCrew Short Sleeve Painter Tee in Coral

A third color can be mixed in, but as an accent, like this:

A.L.C. Dalet Top; if you look closely, the black stripes are outlined in bright yellow

A.L.C. Dale Top; if you look closely, the black stripes are outlined in bright yellow

Back view; I think this would look great with a white long sleeved bouse (underneath), khakis and Converse or Superga sneakers

Back view; I’ve worn this top with a white blouse (underneath) and khakis

I prefer narrow stripes — anything ranging from micro-stripes to 1/2″ wide. (The micro-stripes make my husband dizzy, so I wear them under something when we are spending the day together.) I am not a fan of wide stripes — sometimes called awning stripes — because they tend to overwhelm me. They also make me think of chain-gangs.

 
 
Now that you are sold on striped jerseys, think about the fun that more formal stripes could add to business casual and even business ensembles — either through an interesting cut or dressier fabric:
Junya Watanabe; this would look great with a traditional navy suit

Junya Watanabe; this off-set blouse would look great with a traditional navy suit

Haute Hippie Painterly Stripe Blouse; this would enliven a charcoal suit

Haute Hippie Painterly Stripe Blouse; this would enliven a charcoal suit

Jenni Kayne Striped Oversized Top

Jenni Kayne Striped Oversized Top; picture this with lightweight black pants that end just above the ankle


Suboo Striped Silk Tank; an elegant drape

Suboo Striped Tank; an elegant drape

J.W, Anderson Top from YOOX; the stripes are subtle, the cut of this is fantastic

J.W. Anderson Top from YOOX; the stripes are subtle, the cut of this is fantastic

The last top, you may have noticed, wasn’t really a horizontal stripe. But it was so charming, I had to give you a shot at it before it sells out. Vertical stripes, and pinstripes in particular, deserve their own post and shall have one in the future.

So how do I wear all of my horizontal stripes? I wear short-sleeved jerseys under sweaters and jackets. The same is true of long-sleeved jerseys, but I sometimes wear a long-sleeved jersey over a lightweight white blouse (like cotton voile) or a collared jersey. Here are some ideas, from the shallow archives of The Directrice.

Very worky: long-sleeved jersey under jacket

Very worky: long-sleeved jersey under jacket

Vacationing Directrice, wearing a striped jersey over a cotton voile blouse and under a jacket, accessorized with a huge plate of pasta

Vacationing Directrice, wearing a striped jersey over a cotton voile blouse and under a jacket, accessorized with a huge plate of pasta

 
 
Vacationing Directrice, jersey is now worn as scarf while preparing to lavish table food on hotel owner's dog

Vacationing Directrice, slipping table food to innkeeper’s dog while wearing striped jersey as scarf

UPDATE July 15, 2015: To see my peroration on vertical stripes, see my entry on Longitude.

5 thoughts on “The Virtues of Stripes

    • Hi Regina — At some point I will hold forth about packing for trips, but to preview . . . When you pack for a trip, it’s best if things can be worn more than once and in more than one way — for instance, the trench-coat that can be worn as a formal gown (with a belt and clutch) or made into a tent (with collapsible scaffolding). I wear lots of layers: jacket over sweater over t-shirt over blouse and as the day warms up (or cools down), the layers get tucked away (or pulled out). But sweaters and t-shirts I tend to wear over my shoulders, and then I wrap them around my neck (for warmth or sun protection) and suddenly they become scarves.

  1. Charming! I am a big stripes fan, too (but like you, not a fan of big stripes). Mostly navy and white, of which I have several iterations in my wardrobe. I like to pattern-mix with stripes — flowers are a no-brainer, of course, but I also love navy-and-white stripes with my long navy/gray/white argyle cardigan. You would think it would be preppy overload, but somehow it is not.

    Looking forward to your post on pinstripes, too!

    • Sarah — I do not think it would be too preppy! I love argyle and have a cardigan that I’ve worn with a striped jersey and pinstripe pants; seeing that description in print, I wonder if it was too much. Thank you for reading.

  2. I’m a fan of Breton tops–the LL Bean one is a good basic–with a plain but somewhat formal skirt, either tailored for work or floatier for social occasions.

    Stripes also combine with patterns well. Yay, stripes!

But what do you think?