Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August Reboot Series - Stripes, Breaking Fashion Rules

This month I'm going to be doing some re-posting of older blog posts. Some like this one will have updates included as when I reread I often realize I've learned something new since the original post went up.  I hope to have all new interviews every Friday but many Pros take the month of August off and in past years I haven't always been able to get enough interviews back to fill all the August dates.

I'm always suspicious of simplistic fashion rules. You know the kind I mean, the ones that are supposed to apply to everyone equally. I think they are like using stereotypes to describe people, there might be a tiny kernel of truth that applies in some cases but the real problem is that they limit our thinking and stop us from considering variations. 

Almost everyone says not to wear horizontal stripes or you will look wide, yet stripes are a fashion classic and they are one that knitters seem to be afraid of.

I would like to suggest that you challenge this fashion rule. Stripes are an easy to knit pattern that can add colour and freshness to your wardrobe. So how do you make them work? Take a look at the images above. I've kept it simple and only used black and white / red and white samples. Look at each example, first compare the width of the stripes. Do you see what happens as we go from wide to narrow stripes? That is what is known as the ladder effect. Narrow stripes encourage the eye of the viewer to climb up the body. Visually that works like a vertical line which makes the eye move in the same way. At the far right the patterns become so busy they come very close to reading more like a solid, especially when viewed from a distance.

Next, look at the garments in the center. Where does your eye go? Mine immediately drops to the wide band at the bottom. Does that give you any ideas about how single wide stripes should be placed on the body. Maybe at the shoulder it would be more flattering? Or, what about doing a folded knitted hem so that the pattern repeats evenly right to the edges on the garment?

I choose highly contrasting colours to demonstrate stripe effects. What if you did stripes of low contrast colours? How does that change the look? What if you varied the width of the stripes from narrow at the hip to wider at the shoulder? What if you used more than 2 colours? What if the contrast colour was low contrast at the hem and high contrast at the shoulder? Are you getting a sense of why I don't like a single simplistic rule?

A reader of the original post also pointed out "that stripes are cheerful. Cheerfulness compensates for (alleged) widening, in my book." I fully agree!

Do you have any other observations?

You get extra credit if you made note of how matching stripes across the body and sleeves ups the flattery quotient and that dropped shoulders lowers it by pulling the eye out and down to the armhole where the lines converge. More credit for anyone who saw the flattering diagonal lines created by the cowl neckline on the red and white garment on the far right.

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