I recently did some browsing online, looking to update my at-home attire with a few comfy new pieces. Immediately I was drawn to a brightly striped sweater. It looked warm and cozy, perfect for the cold weather ahead. Although I normally stick to darker color palates, something about the bright, bold pattern seemed to shout, “happiness and joy,” two emotions I would love to embrace this winter season. But just as I was about to put the sweater in my virtual cart, I had second thoughts. Was I too old for bright stripes? Is there a trick to wearing stripes after 40? While I loved how the sweater looked on the model, I didn’t have the same figure as she did. I worried that the piece wouldn’t be flattering.
To help me decide whether I had aged out of stripes, I reached out to some fashion experts to discuss wearing stripes after 40. Stitch Fix stylist Krista Gonzalez quickly assured me that I definitely could if I wanted to wear stripes. Gonzalez says, “As a stylist, I believe you should always wear what makes you feel confident! There are so many variations of stripes that you can certainly find ones that will flatter any figure.”
We have all heard the rule that vertical stripes elongate while horizontal make you look wider. But Gonzalez does not necessarily agree. She thinks horizontal stripes can be flattering depending on the stripes’ width, the type of fabric, and the color. She explains, “When styling myself or clients in horizontal stripes, I lean toward choosing a knit top with a darker hue and a thin white stripe because I find it to be most flattering, especially for women with curves.” Adds Cathy Williamson, fashion blogger at The Middle Page, “The smaller the horizontal stripe the smaller you look.”
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When it comes to pants, Gonzalez does prefer vertical stripes, especially in the summer. Some of her favorite looks include wide striped linen pants or a vertical striped short with a solid tank.
Gonzales says, “When styling, I always look for a flattering neckline like a v-neck, scoop, or wrap dress. If on the bustier side, stretch is your best friend, and I make sure that I select fabrics with movement for this reason.” Gonzalez suggests wearing a midi skirt or maxi dress with a diagonal stripe or chevron print for curvy women. She says, “These stripes create an illusion that compliments your figure and balances out your shape.”
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As for color, Gonzalez suggests women let their mood help them decide which striped item they should reach for in their closet. She says, “For example, a subdued or muted stripe may evoke calmer, more polished vibes whereas brighter stripes are often more fun and playful.” Adds Williamson, “Personally, I always choose a traditional (blue, black, or camel and white) or pale color when I wear stripes. But If bright colors are your thing, wear bright stripes. I am in the camp that you wear what makes you feel good.
If you are an 80’s girl (I was) and loved the color block trend ( think United Colors of Benneton) of your youth, it’s back but without the neon. Don’t worry that if you wore the trend when it first came out that you can’t wear it again. Gonzalez says, “Consider color block sweaters in jewel tones for fall – rich cranberry, mustard, or emerald green are seasonal favorites. Another option is a chic, monochromatic tunic in black and charcoal paired with your favorite leggings and boots.” While some people think of stripes as a summer trend ( navy sailor type or pinstripes), it is also a great winter pattern. Williamson says, “I love a striped sweater, be it in a cardigan or crew or v-neck. I also love a striped coat.”
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Gonzalez believes that stripes in a variety of colors, fabrications, and silhouettes are essential to every women’s wardrobe. If you are hesitant about wearing full-on stripes, consider adding stripes as an accessory, such as a striped scarf with a camel coat. Or wear a striped dress or shirt but add a cardigan, denim jacket, or vest (see photo) to lessen the impact.
In the end, it’s less about choosing clothing that flatters and that you feel confident wearing. Gonzalez says, “If your clothes fit well, you can rock any pattern!”
Related Article: Now that we’ve covered wearing stripes after 40, what about the bra-digan trend? Learn more about this sexy trend, along with our favorite bra-digan combinations for this fall season.
Featured images via The Middle Page