On Rhiannon Harries: 'I'm going to give up stripes'

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The Independent Online

You have to question the motives of those women you see in glossy magazines with their collection of 500 pairs of shoes, grinning beneath a headline saying, "I'm London's answer to Carrie Bradshaw." Maybe they occupy the same planet as those celebrities who confide in interviews that they "simply can't pass Liberty without dropping in to pick up a darling little silk scarf". Yup, we all have our little sartorial OCDs, but keep it under wraps if you can – and pity those of us with little choice but to wear our weaknesses for all to see.

You see, you can get away with nobody noticing if you have 500 distinctive variations on one item. If, however, you have one item that you own in multiple, more or less facsimile form, it is trickier. You will either have people casting aspersions on your hygiene or – unless you get in quick and make an advance in string theory, for example – you will come to be defined by it. Ergo, I am known among family and friends as the Imelda Marcos of striped goods.

There is stiff competition for that title these days, though. Thanks to the Alexa Chung effect, the stripey top, in particular in its Breton form, has virtually usurped the plain white tee as the default partner to a pair of jeans.

Since I bought my first Breton-a-like in 2004 – the Platonic stripey tee that I have been on the rebound from since it bit the dust in an encounter with balsamic vinegar (thanks a lot, Jamie Oliver) – this has all been a bit annoying. I'm not saying I didn't copy someone; it just wasn't Alexa Chung. I got to that French New Wave box set before her, damn it.

Nevertheless, I still love a stripe – the simplicity, the sticking two fingers up at what we are patronisingly told is supposed to be "flattering", as if any item of clothing truly disguised one's girth. But I have to admit that it's getting tired.

This season, we are told, it is all about the wide stripe. I'm not sure if fashion parlance has a term for this yet (the "wipe"? the "stride"?) but whatever you want to call it, it demonstrates that there aren't too many avenues left for this trend to explore.

And so I have resolved to go cold turkey on stripes this winter. If I'm buying patterned, I shall be buying polka dots, although I shan't be pairing them with leopard in the manner of the Dolce & Gabbana show. Dots don't have the gravitas of a stripe, I don't think, but they may be a better camouflage for spots of balsamic vinegar and such like.