I love a good stripe. I don’t even know why. I’m not French, or a sailor and have never worked as a chef at Pizza Express.
On that though, I do like France. We used to go on Sunsites camping holidays in Brittany when I was younger, abiding memories being those boiled sweets that came in a plastic strip, and drinking Orangina from the bottle. Later in life, I went on a school French exchange trip. It was the making of me. Smoked my first cigarette. In retrospect, filterless Camels were probably not a great introduction into the joys of smoking. Returning to the UK, it was single Silk Cuts for 10p bought from the dodgy corner shop on the estate next to the school. Also bought my first pair of Converse on that trip and got proper drunk on red wine for the first time.
I’m not a sailor, never sailed a boat. Not got very good experiences on boats either. The worst one being an ill-timed Turkish holiday when I was pregnant with the first child. I was so queasy during the earlier months that I could only face eating plain omelettes and toast. Even the sight of a tagine had me rushing to the bathroom. A gulet trip was a terrible idea. It was basically me and the hungover family from Barnsley vomiting off the back of the rocky boat for a solid three hours. Got terrible sunburn on my shoulders too.
And I’ve never worked as a chef at Pizza Express. I did, however, work at the lesser known Pizza Land in my teenage years. The uniform was a polyester blouse, a green, knee-length, front-pleat skirt and American Tan colour tights. That job was so fun. Free food, unlimited salad bar, coke floats and a chef who, if you squinted at him, in the dark, had a passing resemblance to Axl Rose. Well, he had long ginger hair, a bandana and a leather jacket. Frankly, that was reason enough for a quick snog in the walk-in fridge on occasion.
But back to stripes. Love them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look uncool in a Breton. They never go out of fashion and this season they appear to be having another moment…
STRIPES ARE A NEUTRAL
Your classic navy-and-white stripe top of any variety literally goes with any colour or pattern. Except maybe vertical stripes; that might cross the line (or lines, as it were). I love leopard with a Breton, and a splash of red. If it’s good enough for the ever-stylish other Kate, then it’s good enough for this Kate.
1. & Other Stories boxy polo stripe top
2. Marc Jacobs The Tote Bag
3. Sandro long red wool coat
4. Whistles authentic dark denim barrel jeans
5. Boden animal print pointed toe Mary Jane flats
NOT JUST NAVY AND WHITE STRIPES
At this time of year – cold/dark/potentially being one of those fools who thinks the longest, most miserable month of the year is a good time to stop drinking – you might want to up your stripe game and go for something brighter to perk you up. All of these can take you into spring and even summer. I imagine wearing this Wyse London jumper on a beach in Malibu over a pair of denim shorts (THE denim shorts – for those of you who know, you know) as the sun goes down. Not that I even own this jumper OR have any plans to go to Malibu, but you never know. At least the jumper is on sale even if the beach is out of reach.
1. Wyse London pink and teal stripe jumper (on sale)
2. YMC South Downs cotton coat
3. River Island high waist stretch straight leg jeans
4. Maison Labiche breton stripe embroidered top
5. Sandro Flame trainers (on sale)
STRIPES TO LAYER
A good, long-sleeve stripe top is an essential item in anyone’s clothes arsenal. I’m pretty sure I have featured one in my spring, autumn AND winter capsule wardrobe posts because they’re just so useful. Wear on its own or layered under cardis, jumpers or even boiler suits. Also goes with prints, so you can wear with a floral skirt and not feel TOO clashing. A good entry point into mixing your prints if you’re a bit nervous of that look. But today we’ll see it under a classic denim boiler suit.
1. M&S reversible quilted jacket
2. Ganni recycled wool ribbed beanie hat
3. Boden zip through denim boiler suit (on sale)
4. Seasalt cotton slash neck breton top
5. Adidas Forum mid high trainers
CLASSIC STRIPES & BLAZERS
I think this is one of my go-to, fail-safe looks when I can’t think of what to wear. A stripe top, a good blazer, a pair of loose-fitting trousers and trainers. Honestly, try it. Then come back to me with your thoughts. If you’re of the big-breasted variety of lady, who struggles with a blazer, look for something slightly oversized, unstructured with a thin lapel, and never, ever do up the buttons. Who even does that, anyway? The only time I button up my coat is after half-time on a cold January night at the Brentford Community Stadium, and even then only if we are losing.
1. Weekend Max Mara wool stripe cardigan
2. Madewell Sydney leather cross body bag
3. Mango oversized houndstooth wool blend blazer
4. Toast cotton twill trousers
5. Nike Air Force 1 patchwork quilted trainers
STRIPES AND LEATHER
I bought this & Other Stories jumper this week. No, I didn’t need another one, but it’s the perfect oversized – but not too oversized – soft, slouchy jumper. It’s made me wish I had never got rid of my leather mini skirt. Now I’m on the hunt for a replacement, but I may go pleather for cost purposes this time. This one from M&S looks like it might fit the bill.
1. & Other Stories striped alpaca blend jumper
2. Cos relaxed fit silk shirt
3. Weekday Witt recycled wool blend coat
4. M&S faux leather croc mini skirt
5. Grenson Nina chunky leather loafers
Let’s all get through the rest of this godforsaken month in some excellent stripes. Only one more week to go…