Straighten up and fly right

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Stripes are another big fashion story for 2009 – damn and blast it, that’s got to mean recession.

Has anybody else noticed how all the presenters on the news are suddenly wearing pinstripes?

Even the sports presenters and the weathergirls have started sporting them.

At first I wondered if it was to do with subliminally recognising the importance of the City in the current economic crisis, but then it crossed my mind that it might be more an entrenchment – a return to ‘traditional’ values. Pinstripes = seriousness = can I keep my job please?

Anyone who lived through the cut-throat work era of the 1980s will recognise that stripes are inherently establishment. In fact, stripes are a quick and easy way to formalise any sort of garment – a dress, a blouse, or whatever. Make it striped, and it becomes instantly ‘smarter’. The stripes have to be relatively narrow and close together, of course, and they should be one colour on white – more colours and wider margins and we’re into deck-chair territory, giving a different impression altogether.

In yesterday’s Guardian I spotted that several leading designers have been producing striped garments for this season and it makes me shudder slightly. Firstly, stripes are only flattering if they’re vertical and slimming, but most striped garments have the stripes running horizontally (WHY???). Secondly, the last time I saw so many stripes, it was 1987 and I damn near got my house repossessed when the mortgage rate doubled. Stripes and recession seem to go hand in hand in a very uncomfortable way.

crap dressSadly, there’s also something about stripes that brings out the worst in some designers. Yves St-Laurent may have got it perfect with his Mondrian dress, but Peter Jensen for Topshop clearly hasn’t got a clue about what constitutes a successful garment.

Frankly, dear reader, what the fuck is THIS? This is the worst-designed dress I’ve seen in years – even wthout a person in it, it looks fat. It would make the averagely built woman look like a tank. No sleeves so you can show off your bingo wings, lots of gathers to add inches to your hips and stomach, horizontal stripes that slice your bum into big meaty chunks, SATIN?

Is he mad? I could do better with one eye shut and a hangover, which is exactly what Jensen must have been doing when he thought this was a good design. Ye gods. Talk about ‘can’t find anything in the shops’.

Paul Smith dressThank heavens for Paul Smith, also featured, who knows how to design clothes and has echoed the stripy theme in a flattering dress that a girl could actually wear. Note the differences – vertical stripes, gently coffee shading that flatters most skin colours, emphasis on the boobs where most women – y’know – look different from men. This is a pretty dress. Why are they so damn hard to find?

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