The Skinny on Horizontal Stripes

By Yolanda Early

I’ve always been into horizontal stripes. When I was fifteen or sixteen years old, I loved to shop. I still hadn’t noticed the shabby selection of clothes available in my size. Or more like, I had yet to realize how that shabby selection of clothing made my body look.

I went to one of the local specialty shops with the intent to buy school clothes. I immediately fell in love with a baggy, scoop-necked t-shirt with thick horizontal stripes in bright colors like orange, turquoise and purple. A saleswoman walked up to me and asked, “Are you really going to buy that? It'll make you look bigger!" My feelings were hurt, but I bought the shirt anyway. Even then, I didn’t believe in such blanket statements. I’ll admit that she was right. The shirt was hideous, but that doesn’t mean that full-figured women can’t wear horizontal stripes. In fact, it turns out my instincts were spot on.

Recent research findings by Dr. Peter Thompson, a visual perception expert at the University of York, confirm that what was fashion fact is now fashion myth. Horizontal stripes actually create an optical illusion that produces a slimming effect.In other words, you + horizontal stripes = hot stuff! But…you still have to know how to make this look work for you. So, here are some tips to help you incorporate it into your wardrobe. Tip # 1: Pay attention to shape and fit

Horizontal stripes are slimming. However, if you put horizontal stripes on a potato sack, it still won’t be flattering. Plus size women tend to look best in garments that are structured and fitted, but not tight.

Tip # 2: Seek balance.

No one has a perfect figure. Many women are top or bottom heavy. If you’re one of them, then you can use this print to create a balanced appearance. Wear the stripes on the larger parts of your body to even out your proportions. I do recommend skirts only for bottom heavy ladies. Horizontally striped pants and shorts tend to look weird unless they are pajamas. Use your best judgment.

Tip #3: Wear thin to medium width stripes.

Thicker stripes tend to look heavy which can make you look heavier as well. This is especially true for petite women. So, leave the chunky ones on the rack. Tip #4: Limit your colors.

Choose garments with two to three colors. Make four your absolute limit. Typically anything more looks childish. You want to look youthful, but not juvenile. Tip #5: Add flair with details.

Your whole garment doesn’t have to be printed to get the slimming effects. Try adding a striped belt to a dress or solid colored separates. Look for structured tops with detailed cuffs. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.