Are Striped Dresses
Fattening?

It is generally considered best to avoid horizontal striped dresses as it suggests width. Almost everyone as they have grown up will at some point ask the question, 'do stripes make me look fat? The standard answer is yes.

However this is not necessarily true and bears closer scrutiny because there are many anomalies and contradictions.

Undoubtedly some designs can create an impression of width but many do not.

Should striped tops and dresses really be listed as part of the 'what not to wear' listing? I am going to primarily concentrate on horizontal striped dresses and tops. I even provide the 'scientic' argument at the bottom of the page if you really want to see what the egg heads think.

It is possibly wrong to put striped dresses in the 'what not to wear' category because on many occasions stripes work well. There are also significant differences between vertical and horizontal, diagonal stripes, different colours and the width, or depth, of the stripe itself.

Should I Avoid Horizontal Stripes?

Kranda® Summer Striped Casual Short Sleeve Party Short Mini Dress
True Rock

Should I avoid striped dresses? Well yes and no. Sorry to be a bit wishy washy but it is not a simple question to answer.

The conventional thinking is that your eye will follow the stripes outwards. Since this is on a horizontal plane, that will trigger the line of thought suggesting width and breadth and width is not a thought a woman trying to de-accentuate big boobs wants anyone thinking about.

By showing examples side by side, (with the pictures shamelessly lifted from Amazon) you will be able to see for yourself what I mean. As a starting point you can see there is an enormous difference of visual impact between thin and thick stripes as above.

So the first lesson is that big, or more specifically, deep stripes can certainly suggest width but thin stripes usually do not. The thin stripe, particularly a dark blue version, is often referred to as a Breton stripe - after the traditional French fisherman's jerseys.

Are You On The Straight and Narrow?

Gravity Threads Made in USA Pocket Polka Striped Bow Tank Top
Henri Lloyd Women's Paige Striped Boat Neck Long Sleeve Top

Now here I am deliberately comparing two red striped tops. If you squint your eyes a little you will immediately see that the broad striped top stands out. 

It also raises another issue, sleeves or sleeveless. The fact is that there is less of a block of colour with a sleeveless look. Flesh also attracts the eye and those vertical stripes will draw the eye down, so that means the mind's eye think vertical as opposed to horizontal.

Should I Wear Striped Skirts?

Hotportgift Fashion Women Scalloped Stripes Ponte Skirt
2LUV Women's Above The Knee Bodycon Pencil Skirt

The next issue to consider is female body types. The art of good style is wearing things that suit and flatter your figure. If you look at the broad stripes on the green skirt above you will probably agree that it does give the impression of width. 

If you do not want to draw attention to your hips or thighs you may wish to avoid this but for the many women who have slim hips and bottoms, striped dresses may well be a wonderful way to provide balance to a big bust or wide shoulders.

Of course the shape of the skirts also makes a difference but I hope you can see how narrow stripes do not give the expected feeling of width.

Using Stripes to Provide a Contrast

Lizhoumil Sexy Women Round Neck Sleeveless Striped Flared One Peice Short Dress
PrettyGuide Women's Long Sleeve Eyelet Cable Lace Up Crop Top

If we accept that broad stripes can draw the eye and suggest width, the next trick to understand is that if you marry that with a plain garment, then you can use this illusion to draw the eye away from a big bust, wide shoulders or large butt and use the stripey garment to create balance.

This is a wonderful and yet simple device anyone can use to draw attention away from lumps and bumps, or simply to counter-balance them and create a more symmetrical figure, if required. Hopefully you can see that the whole issue goes way beyond the simple question, 'do stripes make me look fat?'

The Effect of Different Coloured Stripes

Love My Fashions Womens Ladies Full Length Striped V-Neck Knitted Jumper Dress
Tommy Hilfiger Women's Dress Cap Sleeve Scoop-Neck Striped Maxi Dress

Another issue is different colour striped dresses. As you can see the dark red stripe is the one that draws the eye. In the example of the jersey dress on the left your eye is drawn to the bust. Great if you wish to create an impression of a bigger bust but not a good look for a woman who has big boobs and can do without even more attention.

By contrast, the multi-colour maxi dress on the right has a narrow stripe across the bust which does not draw the attention to the same degree.

In fact the random patterns send the eye up and down seeking conformity and / or symmetry. This confusion can be wonderful for masking lumps and bumps you would rather not draw attention to.

This therefore very much depends on your body shape, but simplistically a big boobed lady may wish to avoid wearing wide horizontal stripes across her chest as it will create a broadening effect, or more realistically, draw attention that chest.

Yacun Women's Sleeveless Stripe Fit and Flare Midi Pleated Casual Swing Dress
Kensie Women's Ponte Striped Dress

Standard conventional thinking is that you wear horizontal stripes on the body part you wish to emphasize and a dark colour on the other part as demonstrated by the striped dress on the right.

However, as I hope I have explained it is actually more complicated than that. The frock on the left does not have one dark colour but has multi stripes and it is the yellow band of colour which draws the attention.

Helmhotz Stripes - The Science

I have to say everything I have said above could be utterly wrong if you believe the scientists. Certain scientists, who let's face it deal in demonstrable facts, will tell you not just that the effect of horizontal and vertical stripes is effectively the same but actually that horizontal stripes are more slimming.

The scientific explanation is that horizontal stripes look taller and narrower than vertical stripes. Well at least on square cards. This was a theory that was suggested and held sway for a good number of years.

Ah the famous Helmholz stripes

If you look quickly at the above two images; decide which one of the two is wider? Many of us will say the image on the right. It is all about optical illusion. This point was first made public by the German physicist Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholz. A very learned man.

He knew the percieved wisdom that horizontal stripes are meant to suggest more width and advised that "cross stripes" actually made a figure look taller.

Two eminent academics at York University, UK - Dr. Peter Thompson and Kyriaki Mikellidou followed this up in 2007 and extended the study to include 3D cylinders. They concurred with Helmholz's studies from a century earlier that "horizontal stripes will not make you fatter".

A man wearing a lab coat, that must immediately mean we are talking something serious and scientific

Does that immediately throw everything we have always accepted about horizontal striped dresses out of the window? Well no. The above example may work with one dimensional cards but a human body is not a flat cut out and that makes a difference.

In fact a would be scientist, Val Watham, simply did not accept the scientists finding so she conducted her own experiment. She worked in conjunction with the University of Creative Arts. Their students made a series of outfits in horizontal and vertical stripes, for both men and women.

Five hundred people were asked to judge the results, modelled by the students themselves, in particular how tall and wide the models looked. The main finding contradicted the Thompson findings and supported the common belief that vertical stripes elongate and horizontal stripes widen.

Was it a valid test? Well Dr Thompson himself generously supported Val Watham in conducting the test and agreed that it contradicted his own earlier results, which I think was enormously big of him. Showing that a true scientist cares more about the findings than personal credit.

As he said, "It may be something to do with the way stripes show up contours and that horizontal stripes reveal contours more strongly than verticals". 

However, they did not asses the really important issue, the difference between the depth of the stripes. So ladies, the bottom line is that, you are safe to carry on with avoiding horizontal stripes in an area you wish to avoid looking wider and to the question, 'are striped dress fattening?' the answer is no.

If you are of an academic persuasion you may wish to read Dr Thompson's paper here: Applying the Helmholtz illusion to fashion: horizontal stripes won't make you look fatter.

I always like to attribute photos if I can so I should say I found the majority of the above pictures at Amazon and if you like the garment, no doubt you can find them there.



Did you like this page, did you learn something, maybe it reinforced you own views? I want to give as much (hopefully helpful) advice to the busty sisterhood as I can.

Please remember, we are all different. You may like to wear certain clothes and styles which I am suggesting that you should not. That is your absolute right. Do what makes you feel good. This site undeniably goes for the more modest approach because I feel all busty ladies already know how to be more racy if they wish.

It would really help me improve the site profile if you would click the Facebook 'Like' button. Pretty please! Susan

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Do Stripes Make you Look Fat?

Shein Women's White Black Striped Sleeveless Dress
Amazon.com

There is a common perception that horizontal stripes make you look fat, or should I be more politically correct and say broaden.

The real answer to the question 'do stripes make you look fat?' is not necessarily. They obviously can but equally, there are many examples where they do not. That is what this whole page is about.


Should I Avoid Striped Dresses?

Although some stripes can undoubtedly broaden you. As you can see, this tee dress hardly makes her look fat. So, the question 'Should I avoid striped dresses?' is a little more complex than a simple answer can provide.


It is not just fashionistas

Hardly an obvious fashion model but look at those big broad stripes!

It is interesting to note that a lot of men's sports teams that wish to promote a big, rough, tough, brawny image use the broad band principle to emphasize a big chest.

Rugby teams have used broad stripes to deliberately make their chaps look beefier



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Susan