Submitted by Hairy Scot on November 6, 2013

Horizontal Stripes?

I’ve always believed that, especially with clothing, that there are stripes (vertical) and bands or hoops (horizontal) but I hear more and more people describing bands or hoops as stripes, and even as horizontal stripes. Another evolution?

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"Stars and Stripes" would then be "Stars and Bands"?

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I have never heard stripes being used solely vertical. Stripes essentially mean lines that are parallel. Horizontal, vertical, or diagonal describes their angle (0 degrees, 90 degrees, or 45 degrees or alternatively, 0 radians, π/2 radians, or π/4 radians), but for an accurate definition of a stripe: "a long[,] narrow band or strip, typically of the same width throughout its length, differing in color or texture from surface on either side of it" from my computer's dictionary program. Bands and hoops are the same with a slight difference in that they round back upon themselves thus giving a three dimensional aspect, but in terms of clothing, stripes have the implied meaning that it's around the entire shirt regardless of direction. However, when I think of bands, my mind gravitates towards something that goes on wrist and, with hoops, something you jump through.

I've never heard someone call stripes bands; where did you hear/read it?

Looking at the date of your post, Hairy Scot, I'm sorry that it became a "cold case" until now.

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I think this was only ever a convention in certain areas, such as football and possibly rugby kit and jockeys' outfits (especially hoops). The stripes in striped ties are usually diagonal, occasionally horizontal, very rarely vertical. A sergeant's stripes are V shaped, but more horizontal than vertical, and a zebra's stripes go every which way.

Hoops are by definition inappropriate for flat areas, and to my mind both hoops and bands imply some depth. I'd only ever use stripes for those Breton shirts with narrow horizontal navy stripes, for example. Context is everything, and if someone started talking to me about their stripy jumper or socks, I'd naturally assume they were horizontal. On the other hand, if they were talking about wallpaper, I'd assume the stripes were vertical.

Here's something which might be apt:

"Badges appear in the mid-sixties on the breast of the jersey and in 1871 the first English International Rugby team bore a large ... Later, horizontal stripes were monopolized by Rugby players, and vertical ones became the insignia of the Association player " - English costumes for sports and outdoor recreation 1970

This makes me wonder if HS is thinking particularly of football. (Wikipedia certainly refers to the Celtic strip as green hoops, with hooped stockings). In which case, these things come and go, for how long have people talked about 'strip' for example? This ngram graph would suggest only since after WWII.

Like jayles, I've never thought there was any directional restriction on the use of the word stripe, and there are plenty of references to horizontal stripes relating to clothes in 19th century books, but first, about that flag:

"Be it enacted, etc., That, from and after the fourth day of July next, the flag of the United States be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be twenty stars, white, in a blue field. " - US Statute 1818

"Strabo and Pliny describe their (the Druids') clothing as a kind of vest and breeches, light and neat, their hair long, a collar about their necks, and ... The third was, a broad stream or facing like a scarf, crossed with horizontal stripes, reaching round his neck, and to the bottom of his clothing "- Encyclopædia of Antiquities 1825

"It [a black silk bonnet] was ornamented round the crown by ponceau satin bows, and the brim had horizontal stripes of the same colour - Belle Assemblée; Or Court and Fashionable Magazine 1828

"When a shield is divided into several horizontal stripes of alternate colours it is called barry " - The Curiosities of Heraldry 1845

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