5 Reasons Why Stripes Look Better on the American Flag than on Me

I fantasize about wearing stripes.

Not up and down stripes, but horizontal stripes.   And J. Crew is torturing me this season with stripes in every imaginable combination.  Neon, bold, color blocking.  I love it all.

J. Crew’s obsession with stripes 2012

Unfortunately, my body was not built for stripes.  I am short and wear a 34DD bra, which is framed by rounded shoulders and soft upper arms. There is no way for me to sport stripes without look like a spinning toy top.

But at the heart of my stripe fantasy is one of those Breton St. James boat neck tees like the ones Audrey Hepburn used to wear.

The Breton in all its glory.

I almost feel like I would have a different life if I were able to wear stripes.

If I could wear stripes, I would wear a headscarf and big sunglasses.   Around 3 o’clock, I would hop on the bike I don’t have and jaunt to the middle of the village somewhere in the French countryside (where I don’t live).   I would buy flowers, a baguette, cheese and just one piece of excellent chocolate because in this fantasy, I have restraint.

I would be able to steer the bike with one hand and not fall over like I do in real life.  This way, I am able to confidently wave at the townsfolk who fondly know me as “that charming girl on the bike who looks great in stripes”.

I would ring my little bike bell and peddle off to nowhere in particular.

Except then I would stop because I would be overcome by the beauty of the late afternoon light on the water (stay with me, I just moved us to the Seine).  I would breathe in the air of the moment and then whip out my oil painting materials because I’m spontaneous like that and scary talented.

I would do artisty things and then rip a hunk of baguette off using only my teeth because I’m in the zone.  Same with the cheese.    This wouldn’t bother me because in this world I have an exceptionally high metabolism.

Then I wake up.


My stripe reality is less fortunate, although I thought I saw hope in the form of these chambray espadrilles from Soludos.    But no cigar.  Turns out stripes even make my feet look fat.

Yep, stripes make my feet look fat.

My life may be forever stripe-less, but yours doesn’t have to be.

Before you stripe-out, consider the following:

  1. Your frame.  This is the most important factor.  Full on horizontal stripes look great on someone with a frame that allows clothes to “hang”.   Think of a swimmer’s build with slightly broad shoulders and a longer, narrower torso.  On the other hand, stripes don’t do any favors for someone like me who has a short trunk, narrow shoulders and a large chest.
  2. Your height.  Not a deal breaker, but it helps to be a little taller because you simply have more visual real estate.
  3. Your weight.  You don’t have to be super skinny to wear them at all, but you do need to have the right frame (above).   Also consider where your weight gathers.  If you are more of apple shape versus a pear, then stripes will only make you look more appley.
  4. The cut.   For whatever reason, boat neck tops and stripes go together like peanut butter and jelly.  Unfortunately, this all adds to the widening effect.  Stripes are much easier to pull off in a V-neck.
  5. The placement of the stripes.  If the stripes are only in the mid-section or arms of a top, they are much easier to wear.  If they are in both places, skip it.    And never, ever wear stripes on a blazer.

Just remember to trust your instincts.  If your first reaction isn’t “wow I look great” when you’re trying something on, then it will never look great.

Have a Happy 4th of July and enjoy the stripes whether it is on you or the flag.