Let’s talk about stripes.
I’m not talking about the 1981 Bill Murray comedy or prison garb. I am talking about the recent spate of stripes in fashion. They have taken over Sweden. So much so that I felt compelled to blog about it.
I noticed immediately upon moving to Sweden that Swedish folks like stripes, but back then, it was a cute little thing that I noticed. Today, stripes have become the official Swedish summer uniform. There are babies in stripes, mothers and daughters in matching stripes, old people, young people, purses, shoes, shorts, shirts, hoodies.
So. Many. Stripes.
I noticed them in Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic to a small degree (now that my stripe antenna is up), but no where is it more prevalent that Sweden. You cannot walk 2 feet without seeing stripes.
So it left me wondering . . . is this just the latest fashion sweeping the world or is this a Swedish thing??
I asked some Swedish friends and a few shop keepers about it. None of them seemed to know why it is such a popular summer fashion theme here. One women suggested it is because Sweden is a country that has embraced water – the sea, lakes, and rivers. As such, stripes represent the nautical theme of the country. This was just her opinion though. She had no empirical evidence to offer me. I did a little research and found nothing related to Sweden, striped clothes and water.
Now, I know that striped clothing is everywhere. It is not unique to Sweden, but what is different here is the sheer number of people who seemingly overnight start wearing stripes.
How Many Stripes Are There?
Just to give you an idea of how many stripes there are in Sweden, the following pictures were taken while walking around Stockholm in a 30 minute period. 30 minutes!! And I have about 60 more photos that I didn’t include. I apologize for the quality – I was on the move.
In Sweden you will see royal blue and white combos:
A little more digging and I discovered that the classic navy blue and white striped motif actually originated on the coast of Brittany in France. Many a French seaman was given a striped shirt bearing 21 horizontal stripes (one strip for each of Napoleon’s victories) as a uniform, known as a matelotor marinière. It is reported that the stripes were functional and allowed sailors to see shipmates that had fallen overboard. How this fashion statement moved from Brittany around the world is a topic of much debate, but there is no doubt that stripes have earned a top place in the fashion world and are considered a staple of a classic wardrobe.
But back to my premise that stripes go beyond a fashion statement here in Sweden and have morphed into a uniform. I ask you my friends – is this a Swedish thing? Have you noticed a prevalence of stripes in your neck of the woods?? Or is there another common clothing item that you have noticed where you live? Tell me in the comments what you have noticed.