Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
CLOSE ×
Search
Leaving AARP.org Website

You are now leaving AARP.org and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Wardrobe Refresher: The Best Way to Wear Stripes

Use the pattern to flatter your figure and jazz up your wardrobe


spinner image A woman wearing a black and white striped shirt smiling
adamkaz/Getty Images

I love stripes. All kinds: Awning stripes, pinstripes, rugby stripes, sailor stripes, shadow stripes, candy stripes. Does this mean that I am a linear thinker? Perhaps…

But it’s also because stripes are magic. They command our attention and direct our eyes to wherever they are going. They can also distract if you want them to. They have the power to visually minimize or maximize. They can be racy, regimental — or, somehow, reassuring — in their regularity. (I don’t love dots. They are ditsy and don’t stand for anything. So there! I’ve drawn a line in the sand.)

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine. Find out how much you could save in a year with a membership. Learn more.

Join Now

When it comes to figure flattery, don’t be afraid to give a horizontal stripe a try. Yes, a stretchy pencil skirt in large, regularly spaced bands may make your backside look bigger, but that may not be a bad thing? Your call…

spinner image Loft Striped Ribbed Midi Sweater Skirt; L.L. Bean Women’s Signature French Sailor Tee in Sailcloth; Ralph Lauren Women’s Resort Stripe Square Neck One Piece Swimsuit in Black/White
Left to right: Loft Striped Ribbed Midi Sweater Skirt ($90, loft.com); L.L. Bean Women’s Signature French Sailor Tee in Sailcloth ($60, llbean.com); Ralph Lauren Women’s Resort Stripe Square Neck One Piece Swimsuit in Black/White ($155, swimoutlet.com)
LOFT; L.L. Bean; SwimOutlet

Horizontal stripes

Let’s say you have a pear-shaped figure; you can visually balance your hips by wearing a horizontally striped top and a solid, darker bottom. Or if you want to distract from round thighs, a horizontal block-stripe one-piece swimsuit will draw attention to your hips, bust and torso and away from your legs. Bear in mind, wide stripes make things appear larger and narrow stripes tend to minimize.

spinner image Floerns Women’s Plus-Size Striped Print Plunge Neck Monokini One Piece Swimsuit in Black and White; Vince Camuto Off the Shoulder Stripe Blouse in Rich Black; Banana Republic Alva Wide-Leg Cotton/Linen Pant in White Stripe
Left to right: Floerns Women’s Plus-Size Striped Print Plunge Neck Monokini One Piece Swimsuit in Black and White ($30, amazon.com); Vince Camuto Off the Shoulder Stripe Blouse in Rich Black ($69, nordstrom.com); Banana Republic Alva Wide-Leg Cotton/Linen Pant in White Stripe ($160, bananarepublic.com)
Amazon; Nordstrom; Banana Republic

Vertical stripes

Vertical stripes can be counted on to make you look taller and slimmer and, in the case of pants, elongate your legs — because they cause the eye to move up and down. If you are petite or short-waisted, consider them your secret weapon!

spinner image Venus Underwire Bandeau One-Piece in Navy Blue and White Stripes; The Oxford Tunic in Apple Red/Hibiscus; ASOS Design Curve Belted Midi Shirt Dress in Mono Stripe
Left to right: Venus Underwire Bandeau One-Piece in Navy Blue and White Stripes ($69, venus.com); The Oxford Tunic in Apple Red/Hibiscus ($125, solidandstriped.com); ASOS Design Curve Belted Midi Shirt Dress in Mono Stripe ($65, asos.com)
Venus; Solid & Striped; ASOS

Diagonal stripes

Diagonal stripes can create the illusion of a slimmer waist — or point toward your favorite feature or away from your least favorite one. Wavy stripes are particularly good at disguising a round tummy.

spinner image Loft Rugby Top in Rich Carmine Pink; J. Crew Garcon Cotton Poplin Shirt in Seaside Stripe in Regal Blue; Land’s End Women’s Plus Size Supima Micro Modal Elbow Sleeve Balletneck Curved Hem Striped Top in True Navy/White Stripe
Left to right: Loft Rugby Top in Rich Carmine Pink ($21, loft.com); J. Crew Garcon Cotton Poplin Shirt in Seaside Stripe in Regal Blue ($118, jcrew.com); Lands’ End Women’s Plus Size Supima Micro Modal Elbow Sleeve Balletneck Curved Hem Striped Top in True Navy/White Stripe ($23, landsend.com)
LOFT; J. Crew; Lands’ End

Instant upgrade

You can take a classic navy blazer and white or blue jeans from 0-to-60 with the addition of a nautical tee, a rugby top or a banker’s-stripe shirt.

spinner image Echo Vintage Stripe 26" Silk Square in Cherry Red; Kate Spade Carlyle Striped Medium Shoulder Bag; Soludo Women’s Dali Espadrilles in Red Stripe
Clockwise from top left: Echo Vintage Stripe 26" Silk Square in Cherry Red ($59, echony.com); Kate Spade Carlyle Striped Medium Shoulder Bag ($239, katespade.com); Soludo Women’s Dali Espadrilles in Red Stripe ($48, amazon.com)
Echo; Kate Spade; Amazon

Accessories

Lastly, a solid dress, separates or pantsuit will snap to attention with a boldly striated accessory!

One final thing I love about stripes? They deliver a big bang for your buck, and they never go out of style.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?