There’s a commonly known rule in fashion that says to avoid horizontal strips as they can make you look fatter.  So why then do maternity clothes so often use fabric covered in stripes, horizontal stripes?
Why Do Maternity Clothes Have Horizontal Stripes
Since a pregnant belly is bigger than the rest of your body, the fabric is stretched around that area. If you had a top with vertical stripes, they would grow further apart from each other as it covers the bump, creating a visual effect that would make you look fatter, wider in that part of the body compared to the rest. On the other hand, horizontal lines supposedly do the exact opposite, elongating the figure as the fabric stretches and the space between them becomes bigger above the belly and back to normal on the sides.

It comes down to personal opinion. If you are generally larger and feel that stripes just are not flattering to you, either pre-pregnancy or whilst you have a bump, then simply don’t buy them.  Some tall, thin women can wear stripes well and others just don’t.

Studies on horizontal stripes

Research seems to prove the opposite, stating that horizontal stripes are actually exactly what a larger woman should wear.  It’s all about optical illusions.

A square composed of horizontal lines appears taller and narrower than an identical square made up of vertical lines.

This illusion was discovered by Hermann von Helmholtz in 1925, and is also known as the Helmholtz illusion. Helmholtz’s explanation was that the figure with horizontal stripes looks longer from bottom up, whereas the square with vertical lines looks longer from left to right. This then generates the illusion that the square with horizontal lines is taller and slimmer than the same-sized square with vertical stripes, which looks short and fat.


When it comes to maternity clothing though, it comes down to what you feel most comfortable in.  Perhaps we’re better off skipping the stripes altogether. After all, almost everyone agrees that the most flattering outfits of all were entirely black, or solid colors.  If you need more advice on other maternity clothes to avoid, take a look at our newest guide.

Avoid stripes if you normally avoid stripes. That’s our tip!



All information on this site is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.


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All information on this site is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.

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