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.
A third color can be mixed in, but as an accent, like this:
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:
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.
UPDATE July 15, 2015: To see my peroration on vertical stripes, see my entry on Longitude.