How to Wear Horizontal Stripes Without Looking Wide

October 14th, 2008

Q:  I’ve noticed that a lot of your postings have striped shirts, which I think look so chic.  When I wear mine, I feel like they don’t really flatter me. (I’m a bit broad-shouldered.) Are there some style rules about wearing stripes?

Feeling the love for this set?  Here’s more information about it.

The eye is drawn in the direction of the stripe - that is, if you’re wearing horizontal stripes, the eye is drawn from side to side, and if you’re wearing vertical stripes, the eye tends to go up and down.  The effect?  Horizontal stripes tend to make you look wider, and vertical stripes tend to be more slimming.

Since you’re a bit broad shouldered, I would avoid thick horizontal stripes at your shoulder line.  The stripes will only visually widen your shoulders.  Since you love these horizontal striped shirts, you could try three things that will lessen the widening effect of horizontal stripes:

Thin Horizontal Stripes:  The widening effect is a lot less pronounced with thin, widely spaced stripes than it would be for thicker stripes.

Stripes with Low Contrast: Horizontal stripes are less likely to widen your figure if they’re in colors without a lot of contrast.  Instead of high-contrast black and white stripes, for instance, try lower-contrast grey and white stripes.

Strategic Stripe Placement: If you can find a shirt that has horizontal stripes on your torso - but not on your shoulder, this can also work for your figure.

How do you wear horizontal stripes? Share your style with us in the comments!

Entry Filed under: Q&A,Ready Made Outfits,Women,Women's

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Miss Moneypenny  |  October 14th, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Ah-hah! Now, I must comment on this one as a UK researcher has actually studied the stripes problem and concluded that . . . drumroll please . . . HORIZONTAL stripes are more slimming and flattering than vertical ones. (Read the whole article here:

    However,I very much agree about thinner and lower-contrast stripes; black and grey are also cool-looking.

  • 2. Mimi  |  October 14th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    I think the top 2 picks would be very slimming. Interesting news article, too!

  • 3. Trisha  |  October 15th, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Interesting article, Miss Moneypenny. I’m curious about what causes this visual illusion – but if it works, I’m all for it. Thanks for sharing!

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