Stripes – Parshat Vayeishev
The Ups & Downs of Stripes
“And Yisrael loved Yosef more than all his sons, for he was the child born to him in his later years.”
What did Yaakov give specially to Yosef, the apple of his eye? “And he fashioned for him…a striped coat” (Bereishit 37:3).
The striped coat that Yaakov sewed for Yosef was a symbol of the bond of love they shared, but it was likewise the trigger of the Tribes’ fierce envy of Yosef and their subsequent betrayal when they sold him to Ishmaelite merchants.
The Midrash reveals a fascinating point: “Stripes allude to his trials—that he was sold to Potifar and the merchants, to the Ishmaelites and the Midianites” (Rashi, ibid). Indeed, Yaakov fashioned a coat for his beloved son, a garment whose every stitch was replete with love, but interwoven in the fabric were the hardships yet to follow.
Stripes. Smooth, straight lines. Everything that Yosef’s life was not… It was a message to him, a message for generations to come…Know, my child, that not everything in life will be as smooth or constant – there will be stripes! For there are times of joy, and also times of sorrow and heartbreak.
Stripes are not merely a transient style or trend, but have proven themselves as a classic element in style throughout centuries. Perhaps it was as far back in history as the times of Yosef when stripes first acquired their vitality and spirit.
Stripes put a stop to constancy, interrupt continuity. They tease the eye to search for the next surprise rather than adjust to what’s automatic and expected. Stripes are like a singular spice that can be incorporated into any number of elements—a lone painted wall, an armchair, throw pillows, curtain,
curtain- anthropologie, carpets- ballard designs, pillow- Etsy.
and sometimes somewhere completely unexpected, like an ornamental dresser or buffet table.
Do Stripes Make Me Look Fat?
The color, direction and even texture of stripes can generate many different effects: Bold stripes, like black and white, navy and white, or gray and white offer a classic touch.
Softer stripes in pastels shades of pale yellow, sky blue, or beige and cream engender a homey, village look.
Stripes of every shade of the rainbow and of different widths and sizes create a fun, dynamic, happy feel!
The direction of a stripe also has its say in the final effect. We all know that vertical stripes offer a long, thin, elegant appearance (especially in clothing). A wall painted with vertical stripes provides that false illusion of a high ceiling and makes a room appear larger than it really is. Horizontal stripes, in contrast, can make something (or someone!) look wide and fat. So even if you don’t want to wear it, a horizontally-striped couch may be extremely appealing, inviting you to sink into its cozy soft cushions!
That’s why you’ve gotta take each stripe as it comes and decide where and when to incorporate it into your home and life…
striped wallpaper: mitpatim
You can create your own incredible stripe pattern using texture alone by alternating one indented or protruding stripe with a surface-level stripe (see photo of door). Another way to enjoy a delicate stripe effect without attracting too much attention (meaning you’ll have it, but won’t feel it) is by using two soft, corresponding shades of stripes. The width of each stripe should be narrow and the transition gradual. Such an effect is particularly eye-catching in woven fabrics and various textiles.
Lettuce – Mango Salad
Years ago, stripes and polka dots were the epitome of two clashing elements. Kind of like adding mango into a lettuce salad! But as much of our contemporary tastes and styles have changed, we’ve been liberated from our rigid classic mentality and opened a door to allow for a fusion of contrasting elements and new, previously incompatible connections. With corresponding colors and shades, stripes can actually complement polka dots and floral prints, in a way that mellows the stripes so they’re less glaring and utilizes them as an accent rather than the focus.
Had Yosef’s brothers only understood this lesson and sought to make peace with him and his stripes, Jewish history would have told a very different story…