A Short History Lesson on Stripes in Fashion

j crew striped top

Striped patterns are my favorite to wear in pretty much every season, but summer can’t be beat. The nautical underpinnings of this simple pattern make it a staple for myself and other sea-loving preppies. But the history behind this beloved pattern may surprise you (it certainly did me!)

The Origins of Stripes in Clothing

Stripes weren’t always a good fashion statement to make. In the Middle Ages, wearing stripes was a sign that you were a social deviant- an outcast if you will. Court jesters, criminals, women of ill-repute, and other unwanted individuals were often required by law to wear stripes. It signaled to other people their status.

During the Italian Renaissance, gondoliers on the canals began wearing stripes and shortly after, military medals and ribbons featured striped designs. Finally around the Victorian era, stripes were not only seen in military uniforms but also in leisure and sporting outfits. In 1917, Coco Chanel introduced a collection featuring stripes inspired by her visit to Brittany, France where sailors were seen wearing the pattern.

The classic blue and white striped tops we love today (called Breton Tops way back when) are an integral part of nautical, preppy culture thanks to designers like Jean-Paul Guiltier and even artist, Pablo Picasso.

So what am I wearing? This adorable striped J Crew top was $19 last weekend! I love how the straps tie into cute little bows. I’m wearing a medium for reference. This top will be seeing a lot of love throughout the rest of the summer! Keep an eye on my Instagram to see how many times I wear it and style it!

*affiliate links present.


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I'm a Dallas fashion and mental health blogger! I love sharing affordable styles anyone can wear and also sharing mental health topics so people don't feel so alone.

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