It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…
Stripes. Flowers. Two items I would never combine, ever, in my entire life. And yet… I did. And let me tell you it was the most liberating thing I’ve done in a long time. I don’t have those fond memories of dressing myself in grotesquely mismatched tutus, sweaters and wellies paired with patterned tights. My mother subscribes, even to this modern day, to a very classic and sometimes dull color-scheme. Royal purple is well outside her comfort zone. As a little girl, she dressed me, bought me all my clothes. I lived in pink, white and black, denim overalls and whatever wild polkadoted large collared frock my grandmother could find. Oddly enough, I always looked smartly put together, even in photos of me running wild through christmas wrapping paper after the blond terror that is my fabulously brave sister. I grew up, and entered a rather embarrassing phase I refuse to call Goth.
Okay, so it was. Except that I was goth before Hot Topic opened its doors with dresses with Depeche Mode lyrics stitched into it. I wore my black jeans, black oversized sweater and black Doc Martins. I wore them proudly. Sometimes I would wear a black pleated mini-skirt. Those were the wild days. And by then I was so heavy that wearing anything but slim slim black wasn’t an option. I needed to hide my amble weight, and black and super solids were my solution. Stripes and patterns were problematic as no one at that weight could bend lines to hide anything. Not even me. I didn’t even want to die trying.
So now you know where I’m coming from.
Except that I do have some favorite items that are striped. There is that fabulous cashmire boat neck from J.Crew. How could I forget the gray and burgandy flyaway cardigan that pairs perfectly with my tank-top dress from Express? And what about the lime green and cream sweater that I snatched out the hands of an old friend at The Goodwill? Sure it was Wal-mart chic, but it was tight, bright and the lines hit me at the bust just right.
And well, duh, I’m a girl. We all have some flowered pattern from some boutique we demanded to own as soon as saw it. I’m no different. My trip to Vegas a few years back required its own suitcase back.
So the issue was that my lovely lime green striped sweater, that nice little twist on a classic preppy statement, had shrunk. It no longer paired with jeans, not even my high-rise skinnies. I couldn’t cast it out. I couldn’t send it back to The Goodwill, or worse – the Salvo! It needed to stay with me, preferably forever, and in order to do that I had to justify its existence in my closet.
Luckily I work in retail, so I practically live in the mall. My world is that of display maniquins and t-stands outfitted for easily addon sales. I found a fabulous little number at Forever 21!
What I absolutely love about this is the price – a whopping $8.80! Second is that the ponte knit is stretchy and giving for all body types, but by no means thin. Thunder-thighs may rest easy. The best thing though, is that it’s machine washable. Anything I can throw in the washer after a night of spilling some beer on the dance floor becomes my favorite clothing. Pencil skirts are still very much in right now, even though they are by no means the big trend a few seasons ago.
So some advice in pairing flower patters and stripes:
1. Pair the bright pattern with another pattern in neutrals – a pretty pink floral skirt with a black and white striped sweater. Or try polka dots with a pretty cardigan with roses on it.
2. Stripes on stripes can get funky. Avoid it unless you’re pretty brave.
3. Let your patterns be the focus of your ensemble. Go light on statement jewelry, and keep footwear feminine yet basic. My advice for life is a pair of very good black ballet flats.
4. Have fun. Because in the end, it’s just clothing.