The Fitting Room: The Horizontal Stripes Myth

My mom always told me that horizontal stripes are a definite no – “Why would you wear something that makes you look wider?” she’d say, in the warmest of kvetching motherly ways.

But with brazen stripes all over the blogosphere and spring 2013 runways – from Oscar de la Renta to Marc Jacobs – I think it’s about time we tossed aside all preconceived notions and got to the bottom of that much-dwelled-upon question: Do horizontal stripes really make you look wider?

Despite research by University of York perception expert, Peter Thompson, proclaiming that all horizontal stripes actually make you look thinner, the general consensus across the web is, well, it depends. Because all horizontal stripes are not created equal. (You hear that, Mom?)

Horizontal Stripes

Thick stripes. Wide horizontal stripes are the trickiest to wear – this is because the wider the stripe, the more your eye will slow down and focus on it. They work best on tall, slimmer frames. But that doesn’t mean petites and curvy girls have to avoid them. Just layer them under a blazer or wear them on the smaller half of your body only – a stripy skirt for apple shapes or a striped top for pear shapes, for example.

Thin stripes. Unlike the thick stripe, a thin stripe can be surprisingly lengthening. This is because the narrower the stripe, the harder it is for your eye to focus on just one spot, so you’re likely to look up and down rather than side to side. Translation: Permission granted to wear thin stripes unabashedly this season, no matter your body type.

By Joanna Berliner, Editor

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