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should plus size women wear stripes

To start with, I want you to know that you can wear whatever you want. There’s no hard-and-fast-fule when it comes to plus-size fashion that says you have to wear (or not wear) certain things just because you have a curvier body.

That being said, most of us have probably heard someone say that bigger girls shouldn’t wear stripes because they make them look wider. The problem is that this isn’t necessarily true.

So, should plus size women wear stripes?

While people generally believe horizontal stripes make someone look wider, this isn’t necessarily accurate. According to Helmholtz illusion, horizontal stripes actually create the illusion of being leaner and taller. It’s actually vertical stripes that give the people who wear them a wider appearance.

This makes horizontal stripes a great choice for plus size women. Below, we’ll take a closer look at what Helmholtz Illusion is and how it applies to vertical and horizontal stripes.

I’ll also give you some tips for styling stripes, from whether you should choose horizontal or vertical to how thick stripes could be. (Of course, you should wear whatever you love regardless of how it looks on your body). But if you do want the tips, they are there!

Should Plus Size Women Wear Stripes?

Yes, plus size women absolutely should wear stripes, polka dots, and anything else they want really. In my opinion, there’s no reason not to wear stripes if you love them. Plus, there are times when certain styles look great on your body whether you choose vertical or horizontal.

Even though people have historically said that horizontal stripes make you look wider, they actually have a slimming effect when you wear them the right way. Things like the style and shape of your garment and the color and width of the stripe matter, too.

We know from Helmholtz illusion (which I’ll explain in next) that vertical stripes actually make you look wider than horizontal stripes in most cases. Even then, many different garments still look great on the plus size body with vertical stripes as well.

Why Do People Say Curvy Bodies Shouldn’t Wear Stripes?

Some people mistakenly believe that wearing horizontal stripes makes a person look heavier than they are. While it is possible for vertical stripes to make you look wider than they are, I still don’t think you should let this deter you from wearing an outfit that you love.

That being said, there are even instances where vertical stripes look great on plus size women. It really depends on the garment and how it fits on your plus size body. Just check out some of these outfits (with vertical and horizontal stripes) that look amazing on this woman.

What is the Helmholtz Illusion?

The Helmholtz Illusion describes a certain “trick” that your eyes play on your mind to change your perception. This particular illusion describes how vertical and horizontal stripes change how your mind perceives the width of something.

helmholtz illusion stripes

Even though the square that has vertical lines appears to be wider in the above image, all the squares are actually the same size.

According to research, a square with horizontal stripes must be 4.5% smaller to appear the same size as a rectangle with vertical stripes. By contrast, a rectangle with vertical stripes needs extended by 7.1% to appear the same size as a square with horizontal stripes.

Does the Helmholtz Illusion Apply to All Body Types?

Some people have challenged Helmholtz Illusion, stating that the appearance of stripes on the flat, 2D model doesn’t translate to the 3D curves on a real human’s body. That being said, researchers have also looked further into Helmholtz illusion and applied the idea to mannequins.

Based on the research so far, the Helmholtz illusion does apply to the real, 3D world. Just look at this image from the study I mentioned earlier. Not only does it apply to different body types, but it applies to women and men who wear stripes.

Something that I will say is that since the size of the stripe changes perception, it is possible for different size stripes to have different effects depending on whose body they are on. For example, the same striped dress won’t look exactly the same on a curvy woman compared to a full-figured woman (and that’s okay!).

Factors like the color of your clothing and the specific pattern of the stripes, as well as how they fit on your body, can change how the mind perceives certain stripes. With that being said, it’s best to try on those striped garments and just see how you feel about them. If you feel confident, wear the stripes!

Style Tips for Wearing Stripes When You’re Full Figured

When I say, “wear whatever you want”, I basically mean that you should wear anything that makes you feel confident. This means that if you feel confident rocking a bikini or wearing a crop top, you absolutely should do that.

The same rules applies here. If you put the stripes on your body and you love the way they look, don’t overthink it. Wear whatever makes you feel most confident in your own skin!

That being said, if you want some ideas on how to style stripes on your plus size body, here are a few tips and things to take into consideration.

Should You Wear Horizontal or Vertical Stripes When You’re Plus Size?

Depending on the outfit, you can wear both! Even though vertical stripes can have that widening effect on the body, some people find that vertical stripes are also one of the best ways to celebrate their curves. For people looking to appear slimmer, certain kinds of horizontal stripes are best. By contrast, the right vertical stripes can help you flaunt your curves.

Does the Size of the Stripe Matter?

Yes, the size of the stripe does make a difference. Anyone whose spent time shopping for plus size clothes knows that some plus size clothes are just ugly. Usually, this comes from a poor fit and the manufacturer just “blowing up” the design instead of tailoring it to a curvier body.

Along the same lines, stripes that are designed to look great on a plus size body often do. You’ll also find that slimmer horizontal stripes have that slimming effect, while wide stripes tend to cut your body into blocks. While not all wide-stripe styles look bad on the plus size body, some designs will just look clunky.

Choosing Stripes That Accentuate Your Best Features

Everyone’s body is shaped differently, particularly when it comes to the curvier body. Additionally, all people have their own preferences when it comes to whether or not they like plus size bodies and which features they find most attractive. Chances are you have your own features of your body that you love and feel confident showing off.

Stripes can be used to make certain areas of your body look slimmer, while accentuating others. This really gives you the ability to pick and choose when it comes to how stripes look on your body, particularly if you put together an outfit with mixed patterns.

Final Word

Should plus size women wear stripes? Absolutely! Not only can horizontal stripes actually have a slimming effect, there are certain styles of vertical stripes that look great on the plus size body, too.

Hopefully, this article has given you an idea of how to choose striped patterns that look amazing on your curvier body. When all else fails, wear whatever makes you feel most confident in your own skin.

Camila R.

Camila is a body positive blogger and fat activist that's focused on helping people of all sizes live life big! That means accepting yourself at any size and just enjoying life! She lives in New Mexico with her husband and two chihauhuas.

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