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Horizontal Stripes Don't Make You Look Fat After All (Plus, How to Wear Them)

Forget everything you know about stripes. We’re finding new ways to wear them this season.

| March 2nd, 2012
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Horizontal Stripes Don't Make You Look Fat After All (Plus, How to Wear Them)

Ever heard that horizontal stripes will add a few inches to your waistline?

This common fashion maxim may not be sage advice.

A new study by YouBeauty Attraction Expert Viren Swami, Ph.D., finds that horizontal stripes aren’t so bad after all.

In the study, a woman in cahoots with the researchers pretended to be a participant while wearing a dress with either horizontal stripes, vertical stripes or no stripes (her dress was white every time and the stripes were navy blue). Later, the real participants rated her body size.

QUIZ: What's Your Body Shape?

Turns out, they rated her a little bit heavier when she was wearing horizontal stripes—but the difference was barely noticeable.

“People should probably not worry too much about wearing vertical or horizontal stripes,” says Swami. “They don’t make much of a difference to perceived height and weight.”

Our fashion expert agrees.

“Rules are meant to be broken, especially fashion rules,” says YouBeauty Style Expert Sam Saboura. “It’s all about owning your look. No one will argue with anyone who looks and feels good in what she’s wearing.”  

He suggests six ways to wear your stripes this spring:

Match your body size. “Keep the size of the stripe in line with the size of your body,” says Saboura. If you’re tall or full-figured, then you can wear bigger, wider stripes. Petite women should stick to small stripes that are closer together and women with a medium build should wear—you guessed it—medium stripes. “That’s going to create a lot of balance,” he explains. Fuller-figured women often shy away from stripes, but no need. “Look for a chevron (v-shaped) stripe to call attention to the center line of your body.”

Layer your look. “Use stripes as an element of your outfit instead of the entire look,” suggests Saboura. Try a striped t-shirt under a solid-color blazer or cardigan, which “helps break up the impact of the stripes.”

MORE: Dress for Your Chest

Keep it lean. “Whatever part of your body is the leanest is where you want to put the stripes,” explains Saboura. For example, triangles should focus their stripes up top, while inverted triangles can try a striped short or pant. Height matters too: “Petite women want to wear small, monochromatic stripes on the upper half of the body,” he says, “but tall women can get away with murder when it comes to stripes.” (By murder, we mean a maxi dress.)

Dress up. “I happen to love a striped dress for summer,” says Saboura. Try a mini dress or jumper and “throw your favorite jacket over it or add a pop of really bright color.” A bold shoe, clutch, necklace or colored blazer can draw some attention and keep the stripes from overpowering your look.

Accessorize with stripes. “Play with where you use the stripe,” suggests Saboura. A striped shoe or handbag can spice up an outfit, or you can take a really simple outfit and throw a striped jacket over it. “If you’re really afraid of the trend,” he says, “try a striped scarf instead.”

Play with color. “Monochromatic stripes will keep the look leaner and less noticeable,” he explains. Try black on gray for a more urban, less summer-in-Nantucket kind of look. “I also love wearing a stripe with a bright-colored denim,” he says. Try pairing a striped tank or top with a colored skinny jean or short-short. (We’re loving red jeans, just watch out for the American flag look.)

Then add a dose of confidence and you’re off to the (nautical) races. 

MORE: Wedding Dresses That Flatter Your Body Shape

Tags: Body Shape, Style
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