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Hampshire Museums

Passion for Pattern

Stripy Lines and Set Squares

Stripes are a series of straight lines which vary in thickness and distance apart. For dress fabric, the appearance the lines have on the shape of the body is important - horizontal lines can have the affect of widening the shape of the wearer and vertical lines are more flattering as they give height.

Designs with very thick, dark stripes make a bold statement and impact. Thin stripes or pin stripes are popular in men’s fashion for suits, trousers, shirts and ties, as seen in the displays. Wider stripes are often used for uniforms like school blazers, probably because of the neat, regular pattern that is not affected by changing fashions.

The square is one of the most common geometric motifs used for pattern.They have equal proportions and give the pattern a strong sense of stability and form. However, the term “to be square”, which means someone who is old-fashioned, formal or precise, is not because their clothes have a square pattern!

It was a term first used in the 1780s and was taken from square-toed shoes, once fashionable in the first half of the 18th century but not by the end of the century.

Squares can be shaded and placed on top of each other to create cubes, boxes and checks. Gingham, one of the most well known forms of check, comes from the Malayan word “ginggang” meaning striped. One of the most recognisable forms of Gingham made popular in the 1950s, uses pink and white check. An example of such fabric can be seen on a dress in this display.

Combinations of stripes and squares include plaids and tartans, which have strong associations with Scotland.

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    Man's waistcoat c1850s
    Raised silk velvet chequerboard design in blue and black on white woven stripes
    Accession number 1972.210

     

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    Bodice and skirt c1873-5
    Silk taffeta woven with narrow stripe in purple and lavender. Coin pocket on left hand side.
    Accession number C1976.31.349

     

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    Sleeveless evening dress c1962
    Manmade fibre fabric with gold coloured synthetic metal thread woven in a square and circle design.
    Accession number C2004.9.13.1-2

     

 
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