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How to Mix Stripes Like a Sartorial Champ

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Doing right by stripes is a job for a sartorial champ — or at least someone who understands the intricacies of sleek lines and the ways they play best with one another.

In truth, you can learn how to mix stripes, even if the concept sounds totally foreign to you today. Just follow these basic rules and your gal pals will start wondering who your secret style consultant is.

How to Mix Stripes: 4 Rules of Play

Create Balance

If you’ve been around The Budget Fashionista, you know our mantra on balance. It’s your best ally and the difference between style win and style fail.

Old Navy pants with horizontal stripes
Red striped top from J Crew

The balance rule holds true for pairing mismatched stripes. For example, a pair of wide-legged pinstriped pants, like these Old Navy Mid-Rise Linen-Blend Cropped Pants ($29.97), looks just right with a form-fitting top bearing horizontal lines, like this J. Crew Factory Striped Perfect-Fit Open-Neck T-Shirt ($24.50).

Style tip: try to keep in the same color family to unite the two pieces — white stripes on both, for example. But don’t be afraid to contrast the overarching shades. It’s that balance of light and dark, and fitted and flowing, that keeps the look high-style.

Choose a Superstar

Ideally, your stripes won’t compete for attention with each other. Select one to be the star player, and it’ll be easier to choose complementary.

Black and white striped skirt
Sheer striped top

So, what makes something a standout? Think unusual silhouettes, wide stripes, or bold colors that instantly command attention. This substantial GAP Wrap Tie-Belt Stripe Midi Skirt ($44.99) looks like it was made to wear with this & Other Stories Sheer Striped Top ($39). Slip a tank on underneath and you’re ready for the day.

Mix Your Materials

If ever there was a secret to your striped success, it’s in the materials you choose for your clothes and your accessories. Different textures and fabrics give each piece its own identity, so you won’t appear as though you’re putting too much effort into the look.

Old Navy Striped Dress

This DR2 by Daniel Rainn Long Sleeve Striped Dress ($34.97) is a dream in silky, airy fabric boasting primary notes of navy, olive, and white.

dresses 1

What kind of stripe could you possibly wear with this? Try a demure leather bag, like this ZAC Zac Posen Earthette Embellished Striped Clutch ($74.97).

Keep It Corporate

If you’re feeling bold, you’ll appreciate the way vertical and horizontal stripes pull your corporate look together in a fresh way. For a little harmony, make sure one of the shades in one piece picks up on the color in the other.

Striped pants from Zara
striped shirt express

These Zara Striped Masculine Pants ($69.90) are a sharp, no-fuss option for the office in gray and maroon. You’ll find a dash of that warm hue in the Express Striped Boyfriend Shirt ($29.99), which boasts soft pink stripes.