Be a prisoner of fashion. In a good way. Traditional felon fare — black and white stripes — is huge for spring.
Look around. Now that I've called this to your attention you'll see them everywhere. On a recent mall stroll I spotted so many women wearing black and white stripes I lost count.
"A stripe is strong. A stripe can be edgy," says Susan Swimmer, More magazine's fashion features editor. Perhaps even more important, despite what you've heard all your life, stripes can be slimming.
"Fat girls can wear stripes for sure," says Swimmer. "A black pant with a white vertical stripe down the outside of your leg is very slimming. It creates a great optical illusion," she says. Similarly, a color block dress with a central, vertical swath of black in the front flanked by narrower white stripes on either side fools the eye and is extremely flattering.
And for every woman who's wished she had more up top, stripes can have an enhancing effect. There are plenty of T-shirts and sweaters in stores now with clever striping at the bust line to make you look a little bigger in that department.
But proceed with caution. A little striping goes a long way. "Two different stripes are not going to work. Not at the office. Not for the weekend. Not at the beach. That's not how you wear stripes," says Swimmer. "A stripe is a great bold accent, (but) too much of a good thing is actually a bad thing. I, who believe more is more — not when it comes to stripes."
Like Swimmer, stylist April Francis is not a fan of mixing stripes in one outfit. But for confident (and adventurous) dressers, the founder of hautecloset.com suggests, "To be really on trend, mix stripes with another print."
"I would do a very tiny floral. Do printed denim," she says. With lots of neon bright solids in shops now, there's a temptation to mix the black and white stripes with one of those. "It can definitely be done, but you don't want to look like you stepped out of the '80s," Francis says. "Tone it down with something organic. A jute sandal or a cotton canvas tote."
And be sure to look carefully in the mirror before you buy.
Says Francis: "You want to wear the stripes and not have them wear you."
Tips for curvy women:
•Never wear stripes on your widest part
•Skinnier and vertical stripes are best
•Cinch with a belt to create a waistline
•Consider striped accessories instead of a top or dress
Tips for everyone:
•One striped item per outfit, please
•Mix with tiny florals, little black and white polka dots
•Ground them with a solid like khaki, denim
•Stripes on bust, hips will make these body parts look bigger
Black, white and striped all over
Bracelet: Express, $26.90, express.com (Bill Hogan, Chicago Tribune / March 9, 2012)