06/14/2012 09:39 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry And 40 More Stars In Stripes (PHOTOS)

It's an outbreak. No, not mosquitoes or (shudder) bedbugs. This summer, the widespread phenomenon is stripes. We are seeing them in every color and incarnation, from bright pink maxi dresses to the original navy and white boat neck version. People of all ages are on trend: Women in their 50s are wearing crisp Oxford shirts with thin bands, while my three-year-old son loves his blue stripes.

The repeated pattern brings us back to the days of auto racing in the 1950s when they were a means of identification. And who could forget Elvis Presley in "Jailhouse Rock"? Saint-James, the knitwear company named after the community in northern France, is also known for its striped tops from the 1970s. They have experienced a renaissance of sorts and are now available in the most American of stores: J.Crew.

What makes them so popular now? Nautical styles always pop up in summer because we are all trying to get as close to the water as possible, so if that means donning Sperry Top-Siders with your lobster belt and seersucker trousers in the middle of Manhattan while dreaming of Nantucket, so be it.

But the old adage of horizontal stripes having a widening effect can be true. So are they suitable for everyone? Here, five tips on wearing stripes, plus 42 celebrities in the popular pattern.

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Shop Your Shape: Stripes