PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 April, 2008, 12:00am

Stripes have never gone out of fashion: they are classic, perpetually hip and somehow effortlessly chic.

Although horizontal stripes have been given a bad name, this is in fact a bit of a myth. As is the belief that vertical stripes are flattering (not true). Horizontal stripes can be extremely flattering - the trick is in the thickness of the stripe.

Oddly enough, thin stripes that are close together are less flattering than thicker stripes that are spaced further apart. Vertical stripes that are skinny and close together are not particularly flattering either.

The best pieces to consider are those that combine stripes in different directions.

Kristie, for example (right), has picked a dress that features horizontal stripes across the bodice, vertical stripes down the length of the piece and diagonal stripes that point inwards at the arms. This automatically draws the eyes inwards and creates a slender (or even more slender) silhouette.

Another factor to consider is the colour of the stripes. Starkly contrasting colours are often more slimming than colours that bleed into each other - perhaps because the higher the contrast the more there is to distract your eye.

Another misconception about stripes is that they cannot be mixed with other patterns. This season, that so-called fashion rule should be put to rest. There are clever ways to mix stripes with floral patterns, polka-dots, stars, even other stripes to create your own quirky look.

Try layering a thin striped tank under a gauzy star blouse as seen on Kate Moss. Or, wear a floral tee (the smaller the print the better) and a striped cardigan for a bohemian look.

Try mixing and matching with accessories as well. A striped tee or tank looks great with a polka dot or floral handbag or clutch. The key is to make sure the colours complement each other.

Take a cue from Bobby (top right), who has a black and white striped tee underneath a multicoloured striped hoodie. It's fun, not too serious and it shows you're willing to be different.

While one of my favourite brands for striped apparel is Sonia Rykiel (Shop 209, The Landmark, tel: 2525 6048), you don't have to spend a bundle getting the look. Those who say they cannot find cool striped clothing are not really looking. Stripes, as I have said, are one of the few style staples that appear every season and so most boutiques have some in stock. Club Monaco (G/F New World Tower Two, 16 Queen's Road Central, tel: 2118 2989) has pieces such as racer-back tanks, cardigans and even ribbon belts.

If you want to spend even less than that, check out the stores on the periphery of Jardine's Bazaar in Causeway Bay: they stock lots of pieces that are great for layering.