Ok, so we don’t own boats or anything. But who says we can’t pretend to look like we do?

The nautical stripes is one of those trends that will never go away. It’s become a favourite due to the classic nature of the pattern.

Kate Moss, Jennifer Lopez, Taylor Swift, Kim Kardashion, Cameron Diaz have all been spotted in stripes. One of my favourite Hollywood actresses Reese Witherspoon was also recently spotted wearing a striped dress and black cardigan to wrap her baby bump.

Nowadays, it’s not just limited to the nautical blue and white stripes. They come in all colours and sizes and they’re popping up in fashion shows everywhere.

And designers are not just limiting it to clothes anymore – scarves, shoes, bags, and even hair accessories have been slapped with the stripes.

It is not hard to see why people love them. They are neat, clean and much easier to work with. Stripes are a simple alternative to an otherwise plain top and can be used as a tool to correct some of our body’s flaws.

Posing the question “Do I look fat in this?” can be a clever way to get rid of a guy, but it is also a genuine concern for women wearing stripes.

There is a misconception that stripes – especially horizontal – will make one look heavier. Fashion experts dispute this! When worn correctly, stripes are an easy way to cheat and give an illusion of a slim body.

But first, you’ve got to know the stripes family. There’s ‘thin’ which is the subtle one, and ‘thick’ which screams louder. Then there is ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’.

There is also ‘diagonal’, but that’s quite difficult to spot in stores for some reason.

There is a simple rule in this family. ‘thin’ will make you look slim, ‘thick’ will make you look heavier. Horizontal will make you look wider, ‘vertical’ will make you look longer. Diagonal is kind to everyone it meets, especially to plus size women.

If you are petite, the vertical stripes will lengthen your body. If you’re petite but on the heavier side, choose smaller stripes. If you are petite and thin, you can get away with thicker and bolder stripes.

If you are curvy, try to steer clear of horizontal stripes. You can still wear them, but opt for the thinner stripes. The thicker stripes are eye-catching and will draw attention. If you are slim, go get some thick stripes.

There are a lot of mixed-striped designs out there these days. You will see different-sized stripes in one top. Remember that thin is slimming and thick is not. So if you are small-chested and would like to appear voluptuous in that area, choose a blouse that has thicker stripes at the chest area. I have also seen tops with thicker stripes at the waist. Personally, I feel they should stay in the stock room. No woman needs her waist to look bigger.

There is more than one way to wear stripes

Now that we’ve got our science of illusion sorted, we should take a look at what to pair these stripes with.

The traditional look would be to pair them with blue denim, but why not spice it up a little with some coloured pants or printed skirts?

If you are not for the print-on-print look, white denim would be perfect for a chic look. White denim gives an instant freshness to the stripes and you will see people giving you nods of approval as you strut your stuff. My favourite look would be a striped top tucked into a flared pleated skirt. Oh so chic and feminine!

Accessorise a little with a light scarf around your neck, or with a contrast coloured belt to accentuate your waistline. The latter would be an awesome way to colour block and at the same time cinch the smallest part of your torso.

If you find too many stripes overwhelming, throw on a plain blazer or cardigan to soften the look.

I was researching what celebrities wear to travel, and was surprised to see most of them had stripes on! The striped look oozes the cool and relaxed off-duty look.

So for your next trip, grab a striped sweater, some skinnies, ballet flats and bun up your hair. Don’t forget your sunglasses.

All aboard?

* Vivy Yusof is the managing director of online shopping website She also blogs at

Tell us what you think!

Go top