Stripes have a reputation. Horizontal stripes in particular have long been blamed for having a widening effect. Which is why, I hypothesize, that they have been relegated to socks with such popularity. These days though, there are a lot of great stripe variations that are really nice and wearable.
However, there is one particular fool-proof solution: the chevron stripe! Just like the road sign, this means stripes in a V-shaped pattern. There are some variations to the chevron stripe. One that is fairly popular for home decor right now is the zig zag stripe but I am not a big fan of this one for fashion items:
Rather, I recommend going with the ones that are a single “⋁ ” down the middle, either with two colours, a selection of colours or a gradation of the same colour; the stripes can be the same thickness or vary in that as well:
Today, many fabrics and knits are made with chevron striping already. However, a chevron can easily be acheived by sewing striped materiel together on the diagonal which is how the many of vintage pieces were made. This requires some degree of care as you must match up the stripes, which necessitates the kind of dedication that many manufacturers no longer bother with.
You can find chevron pieces from many decades however, it is really a style that is associated with the 1970s. It must have been a pretty major fashion trend back then because you can find so many pieces from this decade, including most of the examples that I feature here. Perhaps because of this, the 70s is the decade that does the the chevron best and provides the most beautiful examples.
The direction of the chevron can be either right side up (⋁) which most pieces are, or it can be upside down (⋀). Here are a few examples available on Etsy that demonstrate how these two versions can look:
Right side up (⋁)
Upside down (⋁)
While we are on the subject of direction, my absolute favourite chevron pieces are the dresses that have both directions. So, the top is an upside down ⋀ and the bottom is a right side up ⋁, and a diamond is created at the waist. You can find these from time to time in 70s dresses but they are not that common… so if you find one that fits, grab it! Here are a couple of classic example:
The reverse is even rarer and can be pretty amazing, this dress on Etsy being an incredible example!
You can also find some dresses where the skirt is a chevron but the bodice is horizontal or vertical. In some ways I suppose this can widen the chest and slim down the hips if that is the sort of effect that you are looking for.
From all of these examples, you can really see that the chevron was a staple in skirts during the 70s. But I also really love it for shirts and the top part of dresses. It can be a really flattering look!
The chevron did prevail for a while during the 80s for tops as well and you do start to see some examples from then, especially in the bat-wing armed sweaters that spanned the late 70s into the 80s.
To get this look, have a look at some great pieces that I have grouped into some Etsy treasuries: skirts, tops, dresses and even more dresses.