Ready to Wear: Few designers are clever enough to make stripes appealing

Prints – clashing, colliding and quite disarmingly colourful – were ubiquitous on the spring/summer catwalks, and the bold and brave are no doubt wearing them with pride by now, blissfully unaware of their potential to induce migraine in unsuspecting passers-by. Budget fashion = bad prints.

There are only very few designers who are clever enough to make such a style even remotely appealing, or who have the resources to tap the intricate workmanship that goes into its creation for that matter.

For those, meanwhile, who find florals overly whimsical, polka dots girlish and bold painterly brushstrokes self-consciously artsy whatever the price tag attached – let alone wearing all three in one outfit – the humble stripe might be the answer. After all, there's a clean, no-frills freshness to this particular style which also taps into a counter-movement that decrees minimal to be modern once more.

Stripes are a sweetly summery style. Think deck chairs, parasols and, of course, the by now entirely classic Breton T-shirt bringing with it not only connotations of Frenchness (in fashion this is never a bad thing) and the sea (a headline that reads "nautical but nice" is as integral a part of this particular season as tennis whites and strawberries and cream).

We have Coco Chanel to thank, of course, for the prevalence of a chic, navy-and-white, maritime-inspired fashion in the contemporary woman's holiday wardrobe. More American is the striped shirt-waister – Claire McCardell gave this to the emancipated US female back in the Thirties and Ralph Lauren is running with it once more. Executive stripes (of the type more associated with the uniform of the business man) are more Dame Vivienne Westwood's domain. Dresses, skirts, shirts and boxer shorts (designed to be worn as outerwear – and by girls) are all well-loved signatures here.

A fashion myth: only the stick-thin should ever dare to wear a horizontal stripe. There's a stripe out there for everyone, whatever their size, be it discreet or garish. It's about a frame of mind, not a body shape – but then isn't everything? At Louis Vuitton (pictured) stripes came vertical, horizontal, narrow, wide, French, American and even vaguely ethnic ... And this, all in a single exit.

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