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6 Ways to Wear Stripes This Summer, According to Nikki Kule by Nina Ruggiero
The first stripes Nikki Kule remembers wearing were on a t-shirt her parents, Gene and Arlene Kule, bought her in Portofino, Italy. Anyone familiar with her eponymous clothing brand knows the classic print made a lasting impression — as did her parents’ love of fashion.
“My parents both worked in the fashion industry and appreciated craftsmanship, so it was deeply rooted in me from childhood,” she told The Center Magazine. Together, they founded the brand Happy Legs — credited with bringing bell bottoms to the U.S. — in the 1970s, earning Gene the legendary nickname, “King of Pants.”
And if Gene Kule was the King of Pants, Nikki Kule is the Queen of Stripes.
She founded Kule in 2001 as a luxury childrenswear brand and went on to take a role as creative director for kids at Brooks Brothers. Although she still creates cheerful collections for kids, she relaunched Kule in 2015 with an eye on womenswear — and, more specifically, striped pieces that were both playful and timeless. “After focusing on kids for so many years and then my own kids growing up, I decided to focus on women’s clothing and what was missing from my own wardrobe,” she said.
What was missing most of all was the perfect striped tee. “We worked on perfecting our tee for years,” Kule said. “The shape of the tee and the quality of the cotton is most important.” All Kule tees are made of soft, light cotton sourced from a family-owned company in Portugal.
“Stripes are fun. There’s no way around it.”
—Nikki Kule, founder of Kule
While t-shirts are a staple, Kule appreciates stripes in all forms, including totes, dresses, and even men’s socks. She nods to the fashion icons who have turned to the print time and time again, through vastly different eras. “Picasso, Coco Chanel, Chloe Sevigny, Sofia Coppola, and Timothee Chalamet wore stripes,” she said. “Trends repeat themselves, and stripes have surpassed the gimmick of a trend; they have no expiration date.”
They work as well in a city as they do on the beach, Kule said, making her store a natural fit for Rockefeller Center, which she calls “the heart of the city and a hub for tourists and locals alike.”
Shoppers will find new colorways and sweaters in store this fall, but first, there’s plenty of time to sport Kule’s summer pieces in a sunny destination. “Stripes in the summer remind me of beach umbrellas and striped awnings,” she said. “Stripes are fun. There’s no way around it.”
Here, Kule shares how to have fashionable fun with stripes this summer and beyond.
1. Invest in a wear-anywhere tee.
Kule’s Modern tee is a best-seller. With an easy-to-wear straight cut, “it’s the perfect basic tee, no matter how you want to wear it” — but it pairs especially well with denim.
2. Style stripes two ways.
“There are two distinct ways to style stripes,” Kule said. “One is pairing them with other classic pieces, but solids.” Pairing a classic navy blazer with a striped tee adds instant interest. “Another way to style them is with more stripes or a smaller pattern,” she added. “I love a striped set.”
3. Keep it light when temperatures rise.
“Summer is all about dressing comfortably in the summer heat,” Kule said. A striped featherweight tee works from the city to the coast. Her top picks when packing for a warm getaway are the Malibu and Baja tees: “They feel like you’re wearing a cloud.”
4. Use silk to elevate your look.
“A striped silk set is a no-fuss way to look chic and put-together in the summer,” Kule said, adding that her striped silk Ponza top is her go-to. “It’s perfect over a swimsuit at the beach or worn to dinner with the matching pants or trousers.”
5. Don’t be afraid to mix prints.
“Stripes pair well with florals,” Kule said, pointing to a recent collaboration with One/Of, which was sold exclusively at the Rockefeller Center store. She notes that some of fashion’s most influential women of the moment, including Chloe King and Blanca Miró, also love to style Kule stripes with other patterns.
6. Go for a matching moment.
Kule is open at 610 Fifth Avenue (in the Channel Gardens) Monday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm, and on Sunday from 11am to 5pm.