Striped tops: finding one that’s perfect for you

The striped shirt has been a beloved institution in fashion since March 1858, when an Act of France made it the uniform of the French navy. It became known as the Breton shirt, named after the sailors from Brittany who wore it and increased its popularity throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century.

In the early 1900s, Coco Chanel took a trip to the French Riviera. There she saw the workers in the marina wearing their knit navy and white striped shirts and the inspiration for a new nautical collection was born. Paired with her wide-leg pants and high-waisted belt, Coco Chanel was a vision of casual, seaside sportswear.

And guess what? It’s back for us to wear this spring/summer – well, it never really went away. Stripes this season come either horizontal or vertical, or a mixture of both. They are bold and colourful, often with thicker lines contrasting with a skinnier stripe.

Wear vertical stripes to elongate your body, especially if you’re petite and want to give the illusion of looking taller. Choose carefully as the right type of stripe can be flattering and slimming.

As the spring season fashion hits the shops we will see stripes on everything from shirts, dresses, skirts, trousers, scarves, etc., in neutral and bright colours.

Below are some of my favourites. Just remember that however much and we may want to follow fashion and embrace the stripe, we do need to know our body shape before deciding how best to wear it. You may want to consider having an express colour and style consultation before you invest. As of yesterday, when I put this blog together, John Lewis had 195 different styles in striped tops for you to choose from. Click here to make your selection.



Busty and curvy

Horizontal lines contribute to a feeling of width, as the eye is drawn across the fabric, so not ideal unless you wear a narrow stripe with a V neckline. This T-shirt from Whistles is a winner: the darker colour, V neckline and slightly longer sleeve length will be flattering on the bust, even though the stripe is horizontal.




With a boyish or angular figure, you can go horizontal or vertical. Tight horizontal lines and thin stripes across the hips and bust will create shape and give the illusion of movement, accentuating what few curves you may have. This gorgeous dress from Joules may be just the ticket and the reviews are excellent.




Hurrah, you can draw attention to your top half! If you are also smaller in the bust, wear horizontal stripes on your top half to draw the eye away from the challenging area of your bottom half. Choosing plain skirts and trousers will also deflect attention from this area.

I love the charcoal and metallic gold effect on this striped T-shirt from Mint Velvet. Although it’s not (strictly speaking) Breton, it is lovely and will also broaden shoulders to balance out your hips.




The width of stripe you wear should ideally work with your scale (which is determined by your height and shoe size). If you are shorter than 5ft 4″ you are classed as petite.

You need to achieve harmony with your scale when wearing a stripe, so beware of overly large horizontal lines which will overwhelm you. Bolder, colourful, vertical stripes will make you look taller. This lovely one is from Warehouse.

Another favourite brand of mine is & Other Stories. They have such a great colourful selection in short- and long-sleeved striped T-shirts, so do check them out too.

So if you are not sure how to tackle the mesmerising array of prints this year, take a graphic approach. Stripes are one of the easiest ways to dip your toe into the trend – think Coco Chanel, think St Tropez and the French Riviera!

Best wishes

Anita xxx

p.s. here’s a link to a similar green striped T that I’m wearing in the photo.

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