6 Tips for Wearing Stripes If You're Over 50, According to Stylists
Forget all the stripe faux pas you've heard about. Just learn how to style them.
As soon as you hear the word "stripes," your mind likely conjures a list of rules: horizontal stripes create a wide silhouette; thin stripes look bad on camera; black and white stripes make you look like an old-timey prisoner. But we're here to tell you those rules are nonsense. If you know how to style them properly, you can wear any color or type of stripe. To get our technique straight (pun intended), we asked personal stylists for their best tips on wearing stripes if you're over 50. Read on to learn how to wear them with confidence and ease.
READ THIS NEXT: 6 Tips for Wearing Sweaters Over 60, According to Style Experts.
When in doubt, start with blue and white.
Perhaps no color combination is more timeless than navy blue and white. "Every woman after 50 should have a classic blue and white striped something—a crisp blouse, French bateau T-shirt, cashmere rugby sweater," says Elizabeth Kosich, certified image stylist and founder of Elizabeth Kosich Styling. "It's such an iconic pattern that it performs like a neutral, making it easy and effortless to pair with everything."
Pair a striped shirt with straight-leg jeans and a trench or a French bateau T-shirt with a blazer and trousers. You can match your striped tops with other basics for instant outfits that always look polished.
Try a button-down.
A striped, collared button-down is incredibly versatile. "I love styling a striped button-down open over a monochromatic outfit for a really clean, smart look," says Abigail Valentine, a personal stylist with Joy & the Valentine Personal Styling. "Bonus if the base color matches one of the stripe colors."
You can also wear it buttoned for a sophisticated office outfit. For weekends, tuck your shirt into jeans and pair it with a belt and loafers.
As for the type of stripes, Valentine suggests vertical ones, as they will align with the button-front style of the shirt. "This will help elongate and create a clean line," she says. We're all for that.
Wear a lightweight knit.
Try a horizontal stripe on a pullover sweater. "I love the idea of a mature woman leaning into a classic nautical look with an ivory sweater with a navy stripe," says Andie Sobrato, a personal stylist and image consultant. "A sweater like this is best paired with an ivory trouser or jean, under a blazer, or with an A-line midi skirt." You can also mix in other patterns, like a tweed jacket or polka dot skirt, Sobrato says.
Wear horizontal stripes like this.
The old adage that horizontal stripes make you look wide is dated. But if you don't feel your best in them, try this. "I suggest a three-quarter sleeve or pushing up your sleeve to break up the horizontal line," says Valentine. By breaking the line, you'll accentuate your waist.
Valentine also recommends a half-tuck. "This will break your body into thirds instead of half," she says. "It will bring the eye down instead of out."
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Pay attention to scale.
Stripes can easily overwhelm your figure. Fortunately, there are a few tips to ensure they're perfectly scaled. "Wear diminutive stripes with lots of white space if petite or small framed, then scale up accordingly—medium-sized women are best with medium-ish sized stripes; larger, bigger boned women can go for bold and daring wide stripes," says Kosich. "Always remember you wear the stripes; the stripes don't wear you."
Of course, remember that rules are always meant to be broken. If an enormous stripe speaks to you, give it a go.
Balance your proportions.
Because stripes are inherently lines, they can be used to manipulate the appearance of your body.
"If your body's widest point is below the waist, wear horizontal stripes up top to balance proportions," says Kosich. "If your shoulders have the most width, try a multi-colored, horizontal striped skirt with a centered button placket for the best of both worlds—horizontal stripes to balance shoulders, plus a vertical closure to ensure silhouette stays elongated." Play around in the dressing room to find the stripe styles that make you feel your best.