Along The Lines

Stripes are an at­trac­tive and el­e­gant de­sign and style el­e­ment. Straight and sim­ple, stripes can be used in a va­ri­ety of ways. Brinda Gill pro­files this time­less de­sign.

Apparel - - Contents July 2018 -

Pro­fil­ing the time­less de­sign of stripes

From the flags of coun­tries to badges of hon­our, gar­ments, ze­bra cross­ings, bar­codes, candy, tooth­paste and more, stripes per­vade all as­pects of our lives. On gar­ments, stripes are typ­i­cally de­signed with a play of lines of dif­fer­ent colours or colour tones, widths, spac­ing and an­gles, and cut a strik­ing look. Their in­her­ent style that ranges from clas­sic and chic to ca­sual and sporty makes them a de­sign el­e­ment that can be and has fea­tured on gar­ments of all age groups; gar­ments of men, women and chil­dren; for­mal and in­for­mal wear; ap­parel for dif­fer­ent times of the day and sea­sons de­pend­ing on the fab­ric, colours and gar­ment it­self. Stripes are pop­u­larly seen on t-shirts; men’s shirts, suit­ing and ties; women’s dresses; socks and on many of­fi­cial sports jer­seys.

SIM­PLE AND STRAIGHT

Stripes are de­fined as a long, nar­row band or strip dif­fer­ing in colour or tex­ture and/or width from the sur­face on ei­ther side of it. These bands may be placed ver­ti­cally, hor­i­zon­tally or at dif­fer­ent an­gles to cre­ate dif­fer­ent pat­terns and vis­ual ef­fects, and are cre­ated us­ing dif­fer­ent tech­niques such as weav­ing, paint­ing, em­broi­dery and print­ing. Among the spec­trum of stripes is the clas­sic nau­ti­cal scheme of navy blue and white and the pin­stripe, whose fab­ric has very thin stripes cre­ated by a sin­gle warp yarn that is used for men’s suits for work wear and for­mal oc­ca­sions.

AN­CIENT ORI­GINS

Stripes are be­lieved to be the ear­li­est wo­ven pat­tern, per­haps cre­ated in­nocu­ously when the weaver’s yarn fin­ished and he/she took up an­other lot which had a dif­fer­ent colour tone or colour thus set­ting off the de­sign! Ac­cord­ing to Michel Pas­toureau, French so­cial his­to­rian and au­thor of The Devil's Cloth, a book about the his­tory and evo­lu­tion of stripes, in me­dieval times stripes were worn by do­mes­tic help, or those out­side the so­cial or­der like con­victs. How­ever, in course of time stripes shed this con­no­ta­tion and took on dif­fer­ent mean­ings evoca­tive of pos­i­tiv­ity, ex­pres­sion and style.

THE BRETON SHIRT

The striped shirt called Breton that we see to­day in stores and on the ramp traces its be­gin­nings to Brit­tany, on the north-west coast of France, where it came to be man­u­fac­tured in def­er­ence to the March 27th, 1858 Act of France which men­tioned the striped blue and white shirt as the sea­man’s uni­form. The num­ber and mea­sure­ments of the stripes were also given: the shirt was to have 21 white stripes each twice as wide as the 20 or 21 navy blue stripes.

In this way, the men’s striped wool-knit jersey with a slightly in­dented round neck came to be man­u­fac­tured, and see­ing its com­fort, it be­came pop­u­lar with other work­ers in Brit­tany and sailors. And in an in­ter­est­ing devel­op­ment this tra­di­tional French sea­man’s work­ing shirt be­came a fash­ion­able gar­ment and a women’s fash­ion gar­ment and thus a uni­sex gar­ment! The credit for giv­ing the Breton shirt a fash­ion tag is cred­ited to Coco Chanel who, in­spired by the navy blue and white stripes uni­form of sailors she saw on a trip to the French Riviera, fea­tured them in her 1917 nau­ti­cal col­lec­tion, de­sign­ing women’s striped tops, worn with trousers, and the rest as they say is his­tory! Striped t-shirts and tops came to be worn by the fash­ion-con­scious while hol­i­day­ing at sea­side spots, by ac­tors and icons, and soon there were vari­a­tions in the ren­di­tion of the stripes–of the lines, of us­ing colours other than navy blue in the com­bi­na­tion, and leav­ing large white sec­tions–that con­veyed the pos­si­bil­i­ties of this seem­ingly sim­ple for­mula.

LIMITLESS POS­SI­BIL­I­TIES

Hun­dreds–if not thou­sands–of com­bi­na­tions can be cre­ated with stripes. From the strik­ing black and white to a cool com­bi­na­tion of white and pale yel­low, a com­bi­na­tion of navy blue and red that tends of have an op­ti­cal qual­ity and an eye-pop­ping med­ley of fuch­sia colours…the com­bi­na­tions pos­si­ble us­ing stripes is seem­ingly un­end­ing. A gar­ment can have two colour tones or sev­eral colours; stripes of the same width or dif­fer­ent widths jux­ta­posed and their look en­hanced by us­ing dif­fer­ent colours, colour com­bi­na­tions and dif­fer­ent colour blocks of the ground fab­ric; a set of stripes of dif­fer­ent colours and widths that are re­peated through the fab­ric; stripes that are quiet in their colour and width to stripes that are bold such as broad black stripes off-set by white or gold. Fur­ther, a de­signer can an­gle the play of lines of the stripe ei­ther by plac­ing a pocket at a dif­fer­ent an­gle or the sleeves or even one sec­tion of the gar­ment or ra­di­at­ing from a par­tic­u­lar sport or line.

MEN’S SHIRTING

Stripes are very pop­u­lar in men’s shirting fab­rics and with the colour pal­ette of men’s shirting ma­te­rial hav­ing ex­panded to span colours from white to black, yel­low and pink, the range of striped shirts has also in­creased along with the fab­rics they are made with, from linen to cot­ton and silk. A touch of de­sign is added at times by keep­ing the col­lar or cuffs of a plain fab­ric such as white or a colour from the shirt. A striped shirt is apt for work and for­mal oc­ca­sions; typ­i­cally thin­ner stripes and fewer colour com­bi­na­tions are more for­mal than broader and more colour­ful bands. Designers say that striped shirts are time­less and de­pend­ing on the style can be worn for dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions. If worn for­mally as part of an en­sem­ble with stripes, they sug­gest that the stripes on a shirt be slightly dif­fer­ent to those on the tie or suit be­ing worn.

HOW TO WEAR STRIPES

The choice of striped gar­ments–from their colours, width of stripes, colour com­bi­na­tion, choice of gar­ments (such as t-shirt, shirt, skirt, sari, jacket, suit, scarf) and its style–cre­ate the look such as ca­sual, chic, smart ca­sual, for­mal. One can wear a striped t-shirt with a denim jacket, jacket, shirt or re­verse the look and wear the plain t-shirt with a striped shirt!

The look can be kept sim­ple by keep­ing to a sim­ple colour pal­ette and styling of stripes such as go­ing with a blue and white com­bi­na­tion of a striped t-shirt, denim jacket and denim jeans; a white in­ner t-shirt with a white and black striped shirt and black jeans; a fit­ting long black and white hor­i­zon­tal stripes top with black leg­gings; a white top with slim black stripes with white trousers for a sea­side hol­i­day, or a classy black with fine white ver­ti­cal stripes trousers and jacket with plain black fit­ting in­ner top. On the other hand, a splash of colour and con­trast can up the style quo­tient; it could be as sim­ple as opt­ing for op­po­site colour com­bi­na­tions such as a white t-shirt with navy stripes or a large navy shirt with white stripes.

STRIPES IN IN­DIAN TEX­TILES AND GAR­MENTS

Stripes have long fea­tured in In­dian tex­tiles and gar­ments such as saris, skirts, kur­tas and tur­bans. Skilled weavers cre­ate a fan­tas­tic range of tex­tiles with stripes by us­ing dif­fer­ent coloured yarns, or yarns of dif­fer­ent thick­ness or me­tal­lic yarn. Some­times they weave small mo­tifs set very close to each other in long bands thus cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful pat­terned stripes. While stripes are wo­ven, printed, painted and em­broi­dered as well as striped fab­ric is cre­ated by stitch­ing long strips of cloth, the In­dian tex­tile tech­nique that cre­ates eye-catch­ing stripes is leheriya. Con­tem­po­rary designers also de­sign saris with a play of stripes to al­low the beauty of the weave and colours to be high­lighted with a sim­ple and effective de­sign.

While fash­ion­istas opt for the most stylish stripes, those who wish to look slim­mer opt for ver­ti­cal stripes that cre­ate a slim­ming ef­fect and make the wearer ap­pear taller; hor­i­zon­tal stripes ap­pear to do the re­verse. The more creative can ex­per­i­ment with putting to­gether an out­fit with stripes, mix­ing and match­ing stripes and if they wish, other pat­terns. What­ever may be one’s choice of stripes, brands and designers say one thing you needn’t worry about is look­ing passé, as stripes never go out of fash­ion!

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