The Devil’s Cloth; The Real Reason We Wear Stripes

Stripes have been rocked by everyone from Elvira to Abby Scuito. But who was it that first started this stripey craze? Siouxie Sioux? Or was it Robert Smith (men are just as justified in wearing the ‘trend’). Actually, it was something that started a bit further back than the eighties.

Skull & Stripe I
Photograph by SoulStealer on Flickr

Did you know that stripes were thought to represent the devil in the Medieval ages? Artcritical in it’s review of The Devil’s Cloth: A History of Stripes states that “The stripe was full of pejorative associations, and signified a doubler, an insincere person.
In feudal times, anyone not to be trusted – village idiots,
prostitutes, disloyal knights, tricksters, jugglers and clowns – might
be dressed or depicted in stripes.” Which is why in most pirate, Neo-Victorian and other such periods represented in film prostitutes or characters of a more open sensuality often wear red and black striped stockings – often with garters.

 In the end, it makes sense that we’ve appropriated stripes as something that most Goth’s enjoy! If not just as a hint to fairies and witches but as a politic statement. This statement goes strong with other originally politic messages of heavy make-up, the stigma of black clothing, under-wear as outerwear and bondage themes found throughout Goth fashion.

Besides that we just like our stripes.



  1. June 17, 2013 / 1:45 pm

    And of course, the old black and white striped clothes of prisoners in jail that you still see in cartoons.

    Great article, and interesting to know!

  2. June 17, 2013 / 3:44 pm

    I never knew that! Very interesting…

  3. June 17, 2013 / 4:57 pm

    Wow, great article. I really didn´t know that, so I´m happy to learn something new 🙂 And I just love stripes 😀

  4. June 17, 2013 / 7:17 pm

    Thanks for the very informative post! I had no clue, only thing is that I love that combination, grey and black stripes in particular.

  5. June 18, 2013 / 1:38 am

    wow FANTASTIC post… and cool article too. learn something new every day.

  6. June 18, 2013 / 2:14 am

    That's very interesting! No wonder I'm always drawn to stripes…

  7. June 18, 2013 / 2:31 am

    I've loved black and white stripes ever since I watched Beetlejuice, its so carnivalish if that's a description

  8. June 18, 2013 / 7:02 am

    Don't forget the witches 😀 Now as I think, all rebellious persons had something striped 😀 Now the question is why Russian marines war stripes under their main uniform piece 😀

  9. July 2, 2013 / 8:31 pm

    I had never thought about stripes like this :3 Very interesting!

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