The Horizontal Black & White Stripes: How to Wear Them So As Not to Look Ridiculous


The horizontal black & white striped clothes are very frequent among women and men, also. They are very worn because they are basic items in every wardrobe.

But how should we wear them and how should we combine such a striped print, even with other patterns, so as not to look ridiculous and to highlight our shapes? I am trying to give a complete answer below. 😉

No, I don’t talk about a prisoner′s uniform, but about the black & white stripes pattern, my recommendation this week for you.

Being already classical pieces, the horizontally striped items were established by amazing actresses and models like Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot or Twiggy.

How to Wear Horizontal Black & White Stripes so as Not to Look Ridiculous

Still, take care of how to wear stripes, so as not to exaggerate and look like… imprisoned! They can completely change your outfit, bringing a retro and youthful resemblance to your attire.

It also matters how narrow or wide you want your stripes, because, contrary to the preconceived idea that „they make the body look wider and larger and getting you look fatter”, in some situations they can create opposite apparel.

horizontal black and white stripe clothes

👉 See many other pieces in horizontal stripes at ASOS!

👕 It is known that the narrow stripes make you look thinner, so you can wear them if you are plumper, while the wide ones create the feeling of more volume, if you are thin.

👕 It also matters where you wear horizontal B&W stripes, because, at some point, they can give the sensation of dizziness to the persons watching you, so, at the office, try to wear some narrow and delicate stripes.

When it comes to going out with your friends or in the club, you are free to vary as much as you want, mostly because stripes prints are recently worn with other types of patterns also (florals, dots, geometrical, etc.), which was not so allowed by the designers in the past.

👕 The easiest way to wear horizontal stripes is to choose a blouse or any other top with this print and to mix it with a pair of simple trousers or with jeans.

You can complete your outfit with a very vivid colored hat because you can’t get wrong when you put a bit of color, mostly when it comes in strong contrast with black &white. You can also wear black and white stripes in association with a lot of white.

👕 The black and white horizontal stripes are classical and simple enough. They are inspired by the French fashion, reminding of the French Riviera, of Nice and Cannes especially.

You will look very fresh with a T-shirt or a top in horizontal stripes put inside a conic skirt, with a cardigan on all of these pieces, trapped in the waist by a  simple or statement belt.

On the other side, the black and white horizontal stripes on a shirt look very nice under a men jacket or blazer, mixed with jeans or black trousers.

❗ Pay attention to the fact that big and wide stripes can add a casual to a sporty look to your clothing. When you wear wide horizontal stripes, try to choose fewer accessories, as the whole highlight is on the pattern.

What Horizontally Black & White Striped Items You Should Wear According to Your Body

However, if you have a more conservative nature, wear striped clothes with monochrome accessories, white or black, and with unicolor clothing items.

But you can also bring some colorful spots in your outfit, by mixing your black & white stripes patterns with some monochrome pieces. It is all about your way of living, your style, and comfort.

Horizontal stripes look great on many types of body shapes, as long as they are intelligently chosen. There is a misbelief that horizontal stripes make you look fat and that they are only for thin bodies.

how to wear black and white horizontal stripe clothes according to your body shape

👉 See many other pieces in horizontal stripes at ASOS and chose what is appropriate to your body shape!

Well, there is still a rule here that break down some sort of myths in this direction also:

🤷 If you are thin and you don’t have round shapes, the narrow stripes and a much closer to your body cut/a cut that fits you best can create graceful curves where they are missing. And, yep, a black and white horizontal top can also make your boobs look bigger.

💁 But if you have a round body shape, the medium and small as thickness stripes, along with a loosen cut, can avoid showing what you actually want to hide. 😉

Also, if you are curvy, chose a wrap skirt or dress (or any other piece of clothing in a wrap pattern) with a bold, black-and-white horizontal stripe detail. The lines should not be very regular or having the same thickness. We like the most about this striped look that the lines are horizontal, which plays up that hourglass shape and creating the illusions that we want in our look.

wrap midi skirt in black and white horizontal stripe print

👉 See other details about this wrap midi skirt in black & white horizontal stripes!

So, the top in a stripe pattern doesn’t always have to be tightly fitted to the body – bet on a loose shirt or sweater, depending on what you feel comfortable in.  😉

👧 And if you are petite and you keep avoiding horizontal stripes because rumor has it that they are unflattering to your body and make you look squat, well, here’s a news for you:

Minion women shouldn’t miss out on wearing this playful print because of the myths about stripes. Well, they could wear it only half of their look: on top or on the bottom (as a skirt or short trousers, even with dresses that look like a 2 in 1 piece, having their bottom striped).

For instance, a petite woman can choose a black & white horizontal stripes T-shirt with a mini-skirt or short trousers in order to show off her legs, giving the illusion of more height. This way, stripes will no longer make you look shorter, on the contrary.

🤸 If you are tall and afraid of wearing stripes, concentrate on clothing in wider black and white horizontal stripes, maybe from head to toe, as in a dress. They will make you look shorter. The height and long legs are a perfect fit for the wider stripes.

❣️ And another nice rule that brings advantage to your body: If you’re curvy or simply not as comfortable wearing horizontal stripes, break the lines up by adding solids into your outfit. Layer horizontal B&W stripes with solid colors to create the illusion of a vertical line. This can be easily achieved by wearing a long-line blazer or jacket over a striped top or T-shirt.

How to Wear Basic Clothing with Black & White Horizontal Stripes

Black and white stripes never seem to go out of style because designers are continually reinventing them. There seem to be endless ways that simple straight lines can be combined to create new and exciting designs.

I know the permanent question all women have is ‘do horizontal stripes make us look fatter or is it vertical stripes?’. So we say it depends whether it is about a skirt, pants or top. So let’s talk a bit about basic clothing in this amazing and mostly underrated print!

How to Wear a Black-and-White Horizontal Stripe Top

A black-and-white horizontal stripe top is essential to any wardrobe, even for men. Stick to B&W horizontal stripes for cotton/jersey tops and vertical for more dressier shirts.

  • Wear it under a monochrome blazer or jacket. Try adding another print with an accessory like a leopard belt, a floral printed bag, or shoes in nice patterns.
  • For some sober style layer your striped top with a sleek black leather jacket or with a simple black blazer (see what I told you above about matching the right black and white horizontal stripes to your body shape). Give the outfit a monochromatic look by keeping the jeans or leggings black and accessories black as well.
  • Sometimes a bold dose of color to this type of outfit is needed on a summer day. Pair your striped top with a red skater skirt, for instance, as we get into spring and summer. Keep the rest of the look simple so the striped top stands out.
  • Another cute look with your horizontal striped top can be with blue denim overall. They are in fashion right now.

how to wear black and white horizontal stripe tops and t-shirts

👉 See many other b&w horizontal stripes tops at ASOS!

How to Wear a Black-and-White Horizontal Stripe Dress

Casual jersey in black and white horizontal stripes are very nice and cozy in the summer. They can be styles very easy. Try a T-shirt-shaped polo dress in horizontal lines and keep an effortless outfit by it:

  • pair this dress with a white or blue denim jacket in a casual look.
  • add a bold dose of color by a tote or a crossbody bag.
  • wear black or white shoes in this mix.

how to wear black and white horizontal stripe dress according to your type of body

👉 See various dresses in black & white horizontal stripes at ASOS!

How to Wear a B&W Horizontal Stripe Skirt

A black-and-white horizontal stripe skater skirt looks bold, classy and yet very cute. Meanwhile, a conic skirt in this type of lines could be mostly casual-sports, but not always.

  • Wear a color t-shirt to dress the look of a B&W horizontal stripe skater skirt. Also, you can wear it with a denim shirt and some cute neutral pumps.
  • Choose a simple neutral top or T-shirt or in a bold color – according to the type of outfit (formal/casual) when you want to pair a conic skirt in a simple look. Take into consideration what type of skirt is that striped conic one. 😉
  • Some colored accessories can definitely add the fun factor to this outfit.
  • Depending on the type of skirt (casual, elegant or in between), you can pair some sports shoes or ballerina shoes/boots or heeled shoes to this outfit.

how to wear horizontal black and white stripe skirts

👉 See many striped skirts at ASOS!

How to Wear a Black-and-White Horizontal Stripe Blazer / Jacket

A striped blazer in a horizontal stripe is flattering on every body type and it is easy to wear with a range of clothing you already own. Pay attention to the thickness of the stripes, according to your body shape, as well (see above our advice).

  • Pair a B&W horizontal striped blazer over a floral print top or shirt and light blue jeans and some short ankle boots. It might seem like a fashion “don’t” rule to mix stripes with another print, but the floral piece adds a good vibe and texture to the outfit.
  • The jeans or pants could be blue, white or black. If you want to experiment with color, add color to the top or blouse underneath the blazer.
  • For a good impact stick to black accessories (sunglasses, bag, jewelry, belt, etc.)

Other Types of Clothing in Black & White Stripes

  • Horizontal stripe long trousers are a definite NO at the moment! Unless you want to try a Halloween costume or for fun, at a party. I don’t even remember seeing a pair of this type of pattern in my entire life, not even at the circus! 😀
  • Horizontal stripe elegant buttoned shirts in black and white are pretentious, so take care of when and why you wear them. I would prefer this piece of clothing in a vertical-stripe pattern. Or, why not, a simple blouse, top or T-shirt in horizontal lines is a greater option, more easily to pair in various styles.

Some True Facts about Horizontal Stripes

What do you say about stripes today?

  • Think about the fact that stripes will always be in fashion and horizontal stripes are always seen as casual patterns, but they are even worn so much at special events.
  • Contrary to some beliefs, they are easy to mix both with casual and with elegant items. This print being multi-faceted is also reflected in the fact that it matches skirts, trousers, and denim/jeans. It could bring on a sports feel according to the cut and the design, but it could also be a formal outfit.
  • A striped piece of clothing can be worn to emphasize a type of outfit or form. But accessories in horizontal stripes should not be ignored at all: a scarf, a hat or a bag/purse in horizontal lines are often some perfect choices. 
  • You can also wear a fun piece having narrow and wide horizontal stripes all over. Just pay attention to look great on you, to put your shape in a good light and not to… get somebody looking at you dizzy just because of the print. 😀 
  • Black and white horizontal stripes are the best in order to be mixed with any other colors in multiple looks and outfits.
  • Stripes can bring a classical wardrobe back to life and dynamism.

But how did the misbelief that horizontal lines make you look fat come up? I made a bit of research and found out this:

In the 19 century, the German doctor and physician Hermann von Helmholtz made an experiment and proved that a square made of horizontal stripes seemed much narrower and tall than an identical square filled by vertical stripes.

He used this information in his textbook on the Physiology of Optics, launched in 1867, where he supported the idea that the horizontal stripes dresses, somewhere even crossed, can make a woman look taller.

It is not known, however, how this wrong idea had been spread. Maybe someone had made the economy in giving complete information. So, multiple generations of women have decided with no way back to avoid horizontal stripes. 🙂 As we all of us have learned so much time…

In 2014Dr. Peter Thomson, Professor at the Department of Psychology at The University of New York, has decided to investigate who was right in this question: Helmholtz or the women so scared about the horizontal stripes.

His experiment consisted of the exposure of two drawings with two identical women, but one with horizontal stripes and the other with vertical stripes.

dr. peter-thompson_test image on black and white stripe dress

The participants in the experiment were asked to tell which of the women is fatter. The outcome? The figure in horizontal stripes was perceived as being thinner than the one in vertical stripes. 🙂

When two people are the same size, a person wearing a horizontal-striped dress appears to be the thinner of the two. In order for them to appear to be the same size, the person wearing the horizontal stripes would have to be six percent wider than the person dressed in vertically-striped clothing.

The basis of this perception is human physiology. When the eye looks at horizontal stripes (in the area of the waist, for example), the brain gets confused by the successive passage from white to black, then to black and white. It simply gets confused and thinks that the area is wider than it really is because of the time spent with these crossings made horizontally from one vertical strip to the other.

When the stripes are horizontal, the brain perceives them as uninterrupted lines, easier to browse through the eye, without the danger of segregation and fragmentation of perception.

So, you can choose from now on the clothing with horizontal stripes when in dilemma for clothes that should make you thinner.  🙂

Play with the horizontal stripes, notice how you mask your flaws and what combinations make it worthwhile and go with them! Under no circumstances do you give up clothing with some stripes because of preconceptions. You have seen already, the truth stays in the eye of the beholder! 😉

Front page photo credit: Pflug

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