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How to Wear Stripes, According to a Design Expert

M.M.’s VP of Brand & Creative pens a love letter to her favorite French-inspired, mix-and-match-friendly pattern.

By Callie Kant

I’m not exactly sure what prompted this love affair (a genetic predisposition, perhaps?), but for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved stripes. Thick, thin, horizontal, vertical—give me a stripe, and I’m in. 

My best guesses for why stripes just do it for me:

  • They make me feel like a Parisian moviestar. And let’s face it, you’ll always be well dressed when channeling a French New Wave gamine. 
  • Their bold, graphic contrast, which must appeal to my creative side. If it’s good enough for Picasso, surely it’s good enough for me.
  • They make me feel like I’m on a nautical vacation. Fun fact: stripes originated way back in 1858 as part of French naval uniforms, partially so it would be easier to spot sailors who fell overboard—so I figure they add a helpful extra layer of safety.
  • They add just enough pattern and graphic interest to say “I tried”—without enough fuss to add “too hard.”

So, as you can probably imagine, when Miyako told me she was (finally) designing striped pieces for our summer collection, I actually jumped up and down. Below, how I’m styling our new stripes to add a certain je ne sais quois to all my summer outfits.

The PB&J of Outfits

There’s nothing easier than the outfit recipe of jeans + top + jacket—it’s pretty much the peanut butter + jelly + bread of casual dressing. But the stripes in this look add some extra oomph—without any extra effort. Topped with our Anna jacket in our stretchy Better Than Denim, I’m as comfortable lounging on the couch as I am going for a jaunt on a sailboat. (Related: do you happen to have a friend with a sailboat? Would he/she like to have me onboard?)

The French-Countryside-Ready Outfit

One easy trick to fool yourself into thinking you haven’t been holed up in your apartment for the past 14 months? A pair of oversized earrings that double as the ultimate Zoom accessory. Paired with the cozy, buttery-soft Leslie T-shirt tucked into a sleek cigarette pant, this outfit makes me feel like Jeanne Moreau in Jules et Jim. Since the whole thing is machine-washable, I can wear it as I whip up some ratatouille, pour a glass of rosé, and invite some friends over to pretend we’re dining languorously amidst a lavender field in Provence.

The Subtle Revenge Outfit

The Samara sweater in sea salt is one of my favorite M.M. pieces. Its knit linen is just the right weight, earning it the ever-elusive title of “the perfect warm-weather sweater,” while the flared sleeves and slits at the hips make it almost as detail oriented as I am. When I saw we were making it with stripes, I was elated. Half-tucked into the Caitlin short, it looks sophisticated, but slightly undone—just the thing I’d want to wear while browsing the latest releases at my favorite bookstore. Très chic, and not at all “too cerebral”—regardless of what that last guy I dated called me. The Rowan flat in snakeskin adds texture and just enough comfort that I can easily side-step said ex if we run into each other in the nonfiction aisle (unlikely).

Written By

Callie Kant

Callie Kant is the VP of Brand & Creative at M.M.LaFleur. She’s worn many hats in her career, but only this one is made of cashmere.

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