Even though one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to the general representation of circus inspired fashion is that people automatically associate stripes with a broad culture. Whether they are on garments, shoes or accessories, just because an items is striped does not mean that incorporating into an outfit suddenly makes it makes it vintage burlesque or Victorian sideshow. However, I can readily admit when use of stripes is done appropriately and there are plenty of examples that can be found in previous Carny Style articles. This particular one will focus on how to execute stripes without being mistaken for a cartoon character, because that only works when one is on stage.
This lovely strapless black and white body suit can not only bring retro chic to your look while relaxing on the beach or poolside, but can also be worn with a skirt and easily dressed up with accessories.
Of course mixing up the color scheme of stripes is a great way to stand out, which is exactly what this navy stripe two piece playsuit does.
The retro cut of this black and pink stripe bikini uses direction to create a chevron pattern that makes the set visually appealing.
Wearing black and white stripes without someone thinking you are dressed in a Halloween costume is as simple as adding solid color garments such as black, red or blue. The dominate white, horizontal stripes and angular lapels on this Shoulder Pad Jacket by Givenchy are also helpful.
The intersecting ivory stripes on this navy jacket generates interest but is not so extreme that it hurts the eyes. Pair it with jeans for a smart look or bring an edge to casual wear.
Admittedly the colors here could err towards being too patriotic, but the tailoring on this 1980s Moschino jacket keeps the stripes well matched throughout the garment. Over-sized buttons and navy trim reminds me of what a talker might wear on the bally stage.
Dress shirts that are striped with white collars and cuffs are mostly seen in the office, though I challenge that they should be sported in other places, especially if they are pink.
One cannot write about striped clothing without mention Jessica Lousie, and I can envision her Cupcake Tank being worn with a black corset, white petticoat and spiked heels.
Stripes do not always have to dominate a garment – the subtle striping seen here on the Sassy Sailor Darling top nicely accentuates the red stretch cotton twill and is tied together with a black elastic belt.
For some reason pin stripe gets overlooked, but the subtly of these stripes do not discount them from be as equally fabulous as its bolder counterpart. The rich hue of Lip Service’s Gangsta Pranksta pencil skirt is strong enough on its own, but also opens the invitation for that cute guy across the room to come closer.
Not all striped clothing is made by alternative brands – this black and red full-swing skirt by Marc Jacobs has enough structure and volume to create an eclectic outfit.
Technically speaking this is more of an abstract plaid, but really, the purple stripes of this cotton skirt show that one direction is not always interesting, and thus one does not have to limit fashion by stereotypes.
These green and black stripe peeptoe Maryjane wedges have officially been added to the Must Have List, especially since there is a dress and sweater that they would match perfectly with.
Every now and then, there is nothing wrong with mixing polka dots with stripes, and as Not Rated’s Mismosa shows, when one of the patterns is a subtle accent, the two create a sort of whimsical harmony. These would also look swell with a red dress and fishnet stockings.
Skulls and stripes are an excellent combination, and since the latter mostly appears on the lining of Iron Fist’s Lacey Days platform shoes, one does not have to fear that they are overwhelming.
Taking advantage of striped accessories does not mean one can just pile them on – as with all things moderation is important to prevent an outfit from being outlandish for all the wrong reasons. A wide variety of items can be found in numerous color combinations and severe as an example of how stripes do not always equate circus, which sadly is something that apparently needs to be repeated. Though I have a fondness for striped tights, they ones are associated with a multitude of different subcultures.
When presenting personal style, you make up the rules as to what is and is not appropriate, though I certainly do not expect everyone to abide by them. When making an attempt at creating a specific ensemble and citing circus as inspiration, remember that stripes were mainly found on clown costumes and were not prevalent among traditional wares.
A few things to keep in mind when selecting striped styles is that horizontal ones are better suited for slim, tone figures, while verticle ones give the illusion of elongation. Diagonal breaks make the pattern more interesting and use of color can make the difference between a couture outfit and being part of a chain gang as a movie extra. The appeal of utilizing stripes in apparel is that they instantly cause the eye to gravitate towards a particular garment, they command attention and can be visually stimulating, especially in photography. Below is a collection of images that feature products from Restyle which I feel best showcase how to balance stripes with a complete look.