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Earn your sailor stripes this season

Style and makeup design: Stephanie E.M. Coleman. Model: Ainslee Kirby. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)
By: Stephanie E.M. Coleman, The Eastern Door
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Do you hear that sound? Way in the distance? The ice is slowly breaking up and we are sailing into spring with the heaving, shuddering, final death throes of winter.

So, as usual, we get right into spring-cleaning and with it, most likely, a closet purge. As you skim the flotsam and jetsam from your wardrobe and start looking for some new additions, don’t be surprised if you are feeling a little lost at sea.

Navigating the trends that seem to fly by at an ever-increasing pace can feel daunting, to say the least.

However, this sailor is quite pleased that nautical themes and bold stripes are everywhere this year. What is particularly exciting is that this is less of a trend than a reinvention of a wardrobe classic.

Coco Chanel first showed Breton-striped knit tops in her 1917 nautical collection, paired with high-waist, wide-leg navy trousers.

earn your stripes
Style and makeup design: Stephanie E.M. Coleman. Model: Ainslee Kirby. (Daniel J. Rowe, The Eastern Door)

Until this ground breaking collection, the navy and white striped motif was the uniform of sailors alone, and trousers were for menfolk only.

The look has since been embraced decade after decade with Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seburg in the Jean-Luc Godard film Breathless, James Dean, and Winona Ryder in Girl, Interrupted, lending it icon status.

And let’s not forget Blondie and the album Parallel Lines, or the Jean-Paul Gaultier exhibit at the Musée de Beaux Arts a few years ago that inspired many a Montrealer to don lined dresses, bags, scarves, and tops.

If you don’t already have one, the quick fix would be to invest in a striped top, with a classic boat neckline and either full length or three quarter inch sleeves.

Feel free to take your time and find the perfect shirt, and maybe save up for your ideal piece. It is guaranteed to always be in style, and is a wonderful go-to for the weekend or a casual Friday.

There are often fitted or looser options available; pay attention to the waistline of your jeans in order to choose the right proportion.

You can go ahead and copy Coco and opt for a high-waist trouser with a slightly loose or fitted top; really relaxed tops look best with skinny jeans.

A belt will look sharp and instantly dress up your outfit, just loosely tuck in your shirt. Try cuffing your pants above the ankle and finishing off the silhouette with a flat loafer, ankle boots, or quirky kitten heel rather than ballerina flats.

If you already have a classic navy or black stripe in your closet, try mixing it up with a bold jade green or multi-colour stripe.

Or if you are feeling adventurous and ready to voyage into new territory, you may want to try a flared pant with vertical stripes. You’ll want a platform sandal to lengthen your legs, and a simple button-up blouse or tank top with clean lines.

Other standouts include amazing multi-colour striped dresses and skirts that hit mid-calf or just below the knee in boxy, 60s inspired shapes, or maxi length button up shirts.

Pair these with sneakers, a striped clutch, and a pair of sunnies, and you are ready to go 20,000 leagues under the fashion sea.

Just as sailors originally wore stripes to stand out from the waves in the event they were to fall overboard, you too will stand out from the bland crowds in your bold stripes.

So hold your shoulders back and shout, ahoy, there!


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