Katie Trotter assures us there is no need to fear this season's bold nautical stripes.
With stripes back in style, learn to make them work, not widen
Unless you have been hiding under a rather large rock for the past few weeks (or unless you are simply a bitter cynic who feels fashion is a load of old tripe), you will know that bold stripes are the go-to for this summer. They're the love child of colour blocking (which if you have been following my column you should be well up to date on) and - to drop a name - Dennis the Menace. As I've mentioned before, this season is not for sissies.
This is a look where fashion meets the French Riviera. Think garden parties, sailors, British deck chairs and the like, all done in heart-racing carnival colour combinations. You see, these are not the kind of stripes we are used to. While Spring 2011 was (once again) awash with the nautical trend, it was stripes in vivid colour mixes such as effervescent green and navy, and orange and red, that took centre stage on the runways of Prada, Marc Jacobs and Jil Sander.
Traditionally bold horizontal stripes have had a classic preppy feel. Think posh rugby types with popped collars and boat shoes, and of course there is the more commonly-used masculine pinstripe; think Marlene Dietrich.
This season, however, we are looking more at a bold "Hey, look at me" stripe that is reminiscent of the Sixties beatniks, perhaps even giving a nod to the Eighties punks.
Stripes terrify most of us. It's only natural - a mean trick that your eye plays when it looks left to right rather than up and down, making us appear, well, wider. But if you are clever this can be challenged.
Try a deep V or scoop neck, as this shows a little more skin and breaks up the solid feel of the look. Add a strong tailored jacket, or beat the eye at its own game and distract with a wide belt with a large buckle. Stay clear of any extra bulk and stick to fine silk and chiffon or basically anything that doesn't cling.
Stripes are a great change of scenery in a season rife with bubble-gum girlie sweetness. Unlike soft frills and ballet-inspired drapery, there is a hardness there, a masculine edge in that the lines are squared off.
Give it a go: breaking the mould in a fairly directional season lends itself to old-fashioned mystique. In short, you can still be achingly feminine without dotting your I's with a heart.
More fashion advice from Katie Trotter.
This week's highs and lows.
Reliable Ricky Givenchy's current designer, Riccardo Tisci, is confirmed as Dior's new man.
Fascinator lookout Let's change it up for this year's Dubai World Cup and break the feather/glitter fascinator mould, ladies.
Naval orders We love Moschino's nod to the navy in its A/W 2011 collection.
Polo necks A comeback at Céline, but they're still winter's most unflattering top.
Lovely leggings We couldn't be happier that our fail-safe wardrobe staple is trendy again, as seen at D&G.