A spotlight on stripes

As so many of you enjoy wearing my nautical stripes, I thought you might like to take a closer look at their history and what they mean.

Striped clothing first evolved in the Middle Ages when it came as a big shock visually because up until then, only solid-coloured clothing had been worn.
The first wearers of striped clothing tended to be social outcasts such as criminals and lepers easily identifiable from a distance in their striped uniforms.

During the Renaissance, some stripe combinations took on a more jovial meaning when they were used for celebratory clothing which conjured up a sense of exoticism or freedom.

Thankfully, over the centuries, stripes have taken on more varied meanings. They gradually became accepted into the mainstream during the 19th century when they were commonly used in cotton sheeting, table linens and underwear. This is when stripes became synonymous with hygiene, sportswear and children’s clothing.

At around the same time, stripes evolved as a popular pattern on army uniforms and flags, probably because of their high visibility. In 1858 they became an official part of the French Navy’s uniform; one theory is that they made it easier to spot a man “overboard”. Rumour also has it though, that the 21 stripes found on a true “Breton” jersey commemorate the 21 naval battles won by Napoleon. 

In the early 20th century, the French Avant Garde adopted the nautical stripe as their unofficial “uniform”, most notably Pablo Picasso. They were drawn to its contrasting connotations of rebelliousness (convicts and sailors) and its youthfulness (athletes).

The appeal of the nautical stripe continued throughout the 20th century in the designs of Coco Chanel who enabled it to become the wardrobe staple of chic Mediterranean sunseekers and its allure shows no signs of fading to this day.

There has been a nautical stripe in the Charl collection since I first designed the Chibbles back in 2019. Now the stripe collection has grown to 4 pieces: 2 in traceable certified British wool and 2 in 100% Pima cotton, with a new addition arriving any day!

If you’d like to see the collection in person, I’ll be showing it at a brand-new event called Park Fair, The Great Tew Estate from 18th – 21st August. To find out more, or to buy tickets in advance go to https://parkfair.uk/

Park Fair, The classic country fair – reimagined

Hope to see you there!
Frankie x