Fashion A to Z: S for Stripes

Hello again and welcome back for another edition of Fashion A to Z. Every week we are exploring the history, definition and styling of a fashion term with a corresponding letter of the alphabet. I couldn’t move on from the letter S without discussing one of everyone’s fashion favorites- stripes.

The history of stripes and outfits with stripes

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Stripes have a very interesting and colorful history. Instead of being fashionable, stripes were initially the mark of the undesirables and misfits- prisoners, prostitutes, clowns, and hangmen wore stripes. Those classes of people were ordered to wear the pattern in the 13th century. The bold pattern made prisoners more visible and was thought to discourage escape.

striped tee with leopard skirt outfit

Stripes made their way into acceptable fashion in the 18th century. But how do we get stripes in fabric in the first place?

stripes, striped skirt

Striped cloth is generally any textile woven, knitted, or printed in such a way that bands of different colors, evenly or unevenly spaced, appear on the surface of the fabric. Striped cloth is usually warp-faced, meaning the warp yarns lie on the cloth’s surface, in which the warp yarns are laid out in bands of different colors, but striped cloth can also be weft-faced, or knitted, or printed to emulate woven stripes. An explanation of warp and weft is given in this post on denim.

striped jumpsuit, navy stripes

Did you know there are 16 types of stripes?! I’ve never even thought about it, except for the difference in a pinstripe and what I associate with regular stripes, aka the Breton stripe. This Sew Guide article does a great job detailing the 16 types.

The French began issuing the classic navy blue and white striped T-shirts to sailors in the mid 19th century. The French navy originated from the French coastal region of Brittany, and so the stripe got the name Breton. The top had 21 horizontal stripes (one for each of Napoleon’s victories). The stripes were thought to make it easier to spot an overboard sailor. It’s told that Coco Chanel used the top for inspiration and began designing similar tops for women.

striped sweater, nautical stripes

Stripes are now an accepted fashion norm and are featured on all types of clothing. A striped tee is a very versatile closet essential and one of the easiest ways to wear the pattern.

Related: 17 Stylish Ways to Wear a Striped Tee for Fall

Stripes are a great pattern to utilize when practicing pattern mixing in an outfit. Pick another pattern with the same color and you’ll have instant success.

floral and stripes pattern mixing outfit

Have you enjoyed this fun look at stripes? Let me know in the comments what striped garment is your favorite to wear, or if you are just not a fan.

Shop Jane.com for fun striped items.

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