Joan Smalls NYFW Zelouf Fabrics

Joan Smalls at NYFW in head-to-toe stripes

Few fabrics are as timeless and classic as a simple (or bold!) stripe. But what is the history of striped fabric, and how can it be styled in modern clothing? Find out all this and more in our Zelouf guide to stripes

What is the history of striped fabric? 

The history of striped fabric is long and diverse, and stripes have been used in textiles across various cultures and time periods. Here's a brief overview of the history of striped fabric:

  • Ancient Times: Stripes can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In Egypt, for example, stripes were used in clothing as early as 5,000 years ago. They were often created using simple dyes and weaving techniques. Striped patterns could be seen on both garments and home textiles.

  • Medieval Europe: During the medieval period in Europe, striped fabrics became more common. Stripes were often associated with social class and could indicate a person's rank or profession. The pattern was woven into textiles, and the number and color of stripes often had specific meanings.

  • Nautical Influence: Stripes have a strong association with the maritime world. Sailors and fishermen in various cultures traditionally wore striped garments. The navy and white striped shirt, now known as the Breton shirt, originated in Brittany, France, and was adopted by the French Navy in the 19th century.

  • 19th Century and Fashion: Stripes gained popularity in 19th-century fashion, and they were particularly favored in women's clothing. Striped dresses and accessories were fashionable, and the striped pattern appeared in various designs and color combinations.

  • 20th Century: Stripes continued to be a staple in fashion during the 20th century. In the 1920s, Coco Chanel popularized the use of stripes in women's clothing, making the sailor-stripe top a classic in fashion history. Stripes have been used in various clothing styles, from casual to formal wear.

  • Pop Culture: Stripes have remained relevant in pop culture and fashion. Iconic characters like Waldo from "Where's Waldo?" and the Cat in the Hat have been recognized for their striped outfits.

  • Contemporary Fashion: Today, stripes continue to be a versatile and timeless pattern used in a wide range of clothing items, including t-shirts, sweaters, dresses, pants, and accessories. Stripes come in various colors, widths, and orientations, allowing for endless design possibilities.

Stripes have been embraced for their simplicity, versatility, and visual appeal. They can create a sense of visual interest and have been used to convey meaning, from social status to nautical identity. Whether in classic Breton stripes or contemporary fashion, stripes have maintained their popularity throughout the centuries.

Marilyn Monroe Striped Fabric Zelouf Fabrics

Marilyn Monroe in an iconic striped dress

What are the different types of striped fabric? 

Stripe fabrics come in various types and styles, depending on the width, arrangement, and color of the stripes. Here are some common types of stripe fabrics:

  • Vertical Stripes: These stripes run from the top to the bottom of the fabric, creating a lengthening effect. Vertical stripes are often used to create a slimming and elongating look. They are commonly found in dress shirts, pants, and dresses.

  • Horizontal Stripes: Horizontal stripes run across the fabric from side to side. They can create a widening effect and are often seen in casual clothing like t-shirts, sweaters, and beachwear.

  • Diagonal or Bias Stripes: Diagonal stripes run at an angle across the fabric. These stripes can add a dynamic and unique look to clothing items. They are commonly used in items like skirts and ties.

  • Chevron Stripes: Chevron stripes are a V-shaped pattern created by two diagonal stripes meeting at a point. This pattern is often used in clothing and accessories for a modern and bold look.

  • Pinstripes: Pinstripes are very narrow vertical stripes, usually in a single color, and are typically associated with formal or business attire. They are commonly found in suits, blazers, and dress shirts.

  • Candy Stripes: Candy stripes are closely spaced, evenly sized, and often have a uniform color pattern. They are commonly used in shirts and pajamas and have a playful, classic look.

  • Bengal Stripes: Bengal stripes are wider than pinstripes but narrower than candy stripes. They are often used in dress shirts and create a distinguished, refined appearance.

  • Awning Stripes: Awning stripes are wider, bold, and evenly spaced vertical stripes that resemble the stripes often seen on awnings. They are used in various clothing items, including dresses and home textiles.

  • Regimental Stripes: These stripes are typically found on ties and represent specific military or club affiliations. They consist of diagonal stripes of various colors.

  • Barcode Stripes: These stripes are narrow and closely spaced, resembling the pattern found on barcodes. They create a contemporary and unique look.
    Print on ITY zelouf fabrics
    Zelouf Stripe Print on ITY in Mustard

  • Variegated Stripes: Variegated stripes feature a combination of different widths, colors, and orientations within the same fabric, creating a more complex and eye-catching pattern.

  • Shadow Stripes: Shadow stripes create an illusion of depth and dimension through the use of varying colors or subtle variations in texture.

  • Ombre Stripes: Ombre stripes transition from one color to another, creating a gradient effect along the length of the fabric.

These are just a few examples of the many types of stripe fabrics available. Stripes can vary in width, spacing, and arrangement, and they are used in a wide range of clothing and accessories to create diverse looks, from casual to formal and from classic to contemporary.

What are some trendy ways to style stripe fabric? 

Styling stripe fabric can be a fun way to create a trendy and fashionable look. Here are some trendy ways to style stripe fabric:

  • Mix and Match Stripes: Experiment with mixing different types of stripes. For instance, pair a horizontal striped top with vertical striped pants for a bold and contemporary look. Just make sure the stripes are in coordinating colors.

  • Monochromatic Stripes: Create a sleek and sophisticated outfit by wearing stripes in a single color. A monochromatic striped dress or jumpsuit can elongate your silhouette and provide an elegant look.

  • Layering: Use stripe pieces as layering items. A striped cardigan or blazer can add interest and texture to a solid-colored outfit. It's a chic way to incorporate stripes without overwhelming your look.

  • Accessories: Incorporate stripes into your accessories. Striped scarves, handbags, and shoes can add a trendy touch to a more subdued outfit.

  • Mix with Patterns: Combine stripes with other patterns for a fashion-forward style. Pair a striped top with floral print pants or a striped skirt with a polka dot blouse. Just ensure the patterns complement each other in terms of color and scale.

  • Nautical Style: Embrace the timeless nautical trend by pairing blue and white or red and white stripes with sailor-inspired pieces like navy blazers, wide-leg trousers, and boat shoes.

  • Off-the-Shoulder Tops: Off-the-shoulder or one-shoulder tops with stripes are a stylish choice for a casual yet trendy look. They can be paired with high-waisted jeans or shorts.

  • Asymmetrical Styles: Look for asymmetrical or one-shoulder dresses with diagonal stripes for a modern and edgy appearance. These styles can be dressed up or down for different occasions.

  • Tie-Waist Pieces: Striped tops, skirts, and dresses with tie-waists are not only fashionable but also flattering. They create a defined waist and add a touch of femininity to your outfit.

  • Statement Stripes: Opt for bold and oversized stripes in bright colors to make a statement. Bold stripes can be found on oversized sweaters, wide-leg pants, and dresses.

    Fall Striped Knit Mesh Zelouf Fabrics
    Zelouf Fall Striped Knit Mesh in Red & Black

  • Color-Blocked Stripes: Combine stripes with color blocking. Wear a striped piece with contrasting solid-colored items to create a striking, eye-catching ensemble.

  • High-Contrast: For a more graphic and striking look, choose high-contrast stripes, such as black and white. These create a sharp and modern aesthetic.

  • Mix with Textures: Combine striped fabrics with different textures. Pair a striped knit sweater with a leather skirt or striped pants with a silk blouse for a texturally rich outfit.

Remember that the key to styling stripes is balance. If you have a bold striped piece, keep the rest of the outfit more subdued. Mixing and matching patterns and experimenting with various stripe widths and colors can help you create stylish and trendy outfits.

Where can I buy striped fabric? 

At Zelouf Fabrics, we have hundreds of striped fabric options available wholesale or by the yard! Shop our striped collection today.

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