Everything You Need to Know About Cabana Stripe

Reminiscent of the French Riviera, the cabana stripe recalls memories of sun-kissed skin and beachy waves. But where did this connotation come from — and has that always been the case? Read on to find out.

The Devil's Cloth

Horizontal stripes are historically associated with incarceration.


According to legend in 1310, a cobbler in the French town of Rouen was condemned to death because he ''had been caught in striped clothes.'' "His harsh fate probably owed something to the fact that he was also a member of the local clergy. But even for Europe's unordained citizenry the Middle Ages were a time when wearing stripes of any kind was punishable by death.

''Stripes were the devil's clothing,'' he said Michel Pastoureau, author of "The Devil's Cloth: A History of Stripes ''the dress of prostitutes, of hangmen. They were considered transgressive.''

Napoleon Bonaparte had a striped tented room added to the Château de Malmaison which is located a few miles west of Paris. The beautiful palace was once home to Josephine and Napoléon Bonaparte, and, briefly, the seat of the French government.

Courtesy of Architectural Digest

During the American and French Revolutions stripes became very much in vogue moving from clothing of all sorts to walls, drapes, sheets and furniture. In France under the rule of Napoléon Bonaparte it was considered the height of chic to receive your guests in a striped Egyptian tent set up in the living room.

While the diabolic stripes of the Middle Ages had been mostly horizontal, these status-enhancing modern stripes tended to be vertical, the difference between ostracism and acceptance.

Modern Origins

Edward VII and Coco Chanel embracing the Nautical and making the stripe a fashion staple.


The introduction of the stripe actually began in medieval times, when the fabric was only worn by those designated as "outside the social order": prostitutes, servants, and criminals. Thankfully, this connotation wouldn't last forever. Around the end of the 1800s, Queen Victoria dressed her son in a sailor suit during a royal event and started the association of stripes with the sea. This marine motif slowly took off and the navy striped sailor outfit was born. While on holiday in the French Riviera, Coco Chanel was inspired by these sailor uniforms and created her 1917 nautical collection — bringing the cabana stripe into daily wear.

Today, a Timeless Classic

Today, cabana stripes are known for their relatively wide-stripe pattern that does a great job of bringing playful pattern and color into your space without overpowering everything around it.

Want more? Shop The Inside's Cabana Stripe collection.

Read Next

The Perfect Small Bedroom Layout

The average apartment bedroom is 11 feet by 12 feet, but legally speaking, a bedroom only needs to 70 square feet(!). Don't worry--there's always a way to make it work.