Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Classic Style of Stripes

Did you know there are rules about stripes?

I discovered this when I learned that Ralph Lauren's headquarters in New York trains its employees in The Art of the Stripe. Yes, newbie RLers have to attend Stripe Class, according to someone I know who did it.

Apparently it's quite difficult. Apparently there are huge differences in 'styles' of stripes. There are awning stripes, and deckchair stripes, and French Breton t-shirt stripes, and couture ballgown stripes (think Audrey Hepburn in her black and white gown in My Fair Lady), and of course ticking stripes. There are thin, elegant stripes and bold, wide stripes, and stripes that vary in size – like those beautiful French canvas fabrics you sometimes see in Provence or Australia, made by Les Toiles de Soileil.

There are so many different stripes, and so many ways to do them, that Ralph Lauren has a 'Stripe Manual', according to this same friend. (Could be a RL urban myth. But sounds like it might be true.)

Author Maggie Alderson is so fascinated with stripes that she once did a post about them in her Good Weekend column. It had a huge response. People still remember it. She spoke about "the precise ratio between stripes", having measured many of her stripey clothes to see if there was some kind of formula. Some stripes, she found, were of equal width, meaning the gap between the stripe and the space was of equal width. Others had a narrow band between the stripes. Some stripes were 13 millimetres wide while others were five millimetre. After much tape measuring and collecting of data, she still couldn't ascertain a formula for the perfect stripe.

Confusing, isn't it?

No wonder there are Stripe Classes for the uneducated among us.

Here are some favourite (stripey) photographs from photo shoots over the past few years...

Parisian Stripes.

More Parisian Stripes.

Miami's fine lines.

The newly renovated Roger Hotel in New York.

Island stripes in the Bahamas.

More island stripes.

Humble stripes at home.

Paul Smith wallpaper in a boutique hotel in Versailles.

Ribbons from France.

The markets in Nice.

Garoupe Beach, on Cap d'Antibes.

Flowers in Provence.

Madeleine Weinrib in Manhattan.

And home-grown produce from our potager. 
(The only thing that grew in the entire vegetable patch...)


  1. Sounds like it could be true - but then again most luxury brands have to sign a confidential information form but I should ask around! I love the french stripe - the ones on the south of france beach umbrellas like you showed in one of your pics. But it could be association...I don't really like the British one as much with all the extra stripes within one of the dividing stripes as much.

    1. Yes, I like even stripes too. Although it's amazing how companies like Les Toiles create their striped fabric, with varying colours and widths. They somehow look so beautiful, even with colours that wouldn't ordinarily be seen together.

  2. Well I'd buy the notion of a style guide for sure. My personal experience was in RL in NYC. I was after a raffia cushion & the gorgeous person consulted a style book to find its "story". I was fascinated with the details within- colours for the look, style, size & layout of frames etc, etc- page after page!
    As a by-line ( & off topic) the service I received was amazing. Once identified, a phone around found said curtains at the Tanger Outlet,& then organized for these to be delivered to my hotel within 24 hours. Amazing!

    1. That's wonderful service! The staff at RL in the new store the Upper East Side are really lovely too. They didn't mind if you just wanted to wander around and look at the gorgeous merchandising; everyone had a smile; people appeared when you needed them, and even the doorman was a picture of dignity, grace and chivalry...

    2. Yes! This experience was at the Upper East Side shop. 70's I think from memory? Not far from the Frick!
      Wonderful Memories!


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