Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

A stripe too far? Why your obsession with Breton tops could give you migraines

Breton use.jpg

We love Breton tops as much as the next woman, but we never stopped to consider the detrimental effect they could be having on our health.

Researchers from the University Medical Centre Utrecht (UMC) in the Netherlands have found a link between stripes and the potential for developing migraines or seizures.

Scientists discovered that even looking at static patterns made up of bars and lines can trigger a rise in neural activity, indicating a cause for debilitating headaches.

Read more: The ultimate Breton top gallery

By attaching small electrodes to the scalps of volunteers, the UMC team were able to identify the way in which parallel lines sparked strong “gamma oscillations” in the brain, in a way that other images did not.

This impact can be provoked by a host of material objects caught up in the landscape of modern life,  from stripy tops to zebra crossings, barcodes, radiators and repetitive brickwork.


Stripes: beautiful but they may also trigger headaches

This grating effect is especially potent for people who are already sensitive to light. In the most severe cases, it can even lead to epilepsy.

“Our findings imply that in designing buildings, it may be important to avoid the types of visual patterns that can activate this circuit and cause discomfort, migraines, or seizures,” says Dr Dora Hermes, leading the research.

“Even perfectly healthy people may feel modest discomfort from the images that are most likely to trigger seizures in photosensitive epilepsy.”

Around one in five women and one in 15 men suffer from migraines in the United Kingdom, resulting in a loss of 25 million working days a year.

We guess we’ll be viewing our repertoire of stripy tops with a little more caution in the future...

Image: iStock


retro leopard.jpg

Charting the rich and exotic evolution of leopard print


Meet the new generation of French style icons


Bask in a belle époque retreat in Brittany


Street style highlights from Milan Fashion Week

Bold pops of colour meet extravagant textural embellishments

23 Sep 2017

Stars on the front row at Milan Fashion Week

From Cate Blanchett to Olivia Palermo

23 Sep 2017

History's greatest supers join Donatella Versace in moving tribute

Legendary designer joined by squad of world-famous faces

22 Sep 2017

The magic and the mayhem: candid backstage photos from Fashion Week

Behind the runway, a rare glimpse into a high-pressure and exuberant world

22 Sep 2017

This River Island coat is also a sleeping bag

“Is this a joke?”

by Susan Devaney
22 Sep 2017

Chrissy Teigen's Halloween costume has truly confounded the internet

Yes, it’s still September. No, it is NOT a condom.

by Megan Murray
22 Sep 2017

Stylist's Fashion Week diaries: join the team behind the scenes

Tune in to our daily videos for an inside look at Stylist's fashion crew in action

22 Sep 2017

Bring on the bum bag, Fashion Week's must-have accessory of the moment

A one-time tourist stalwart gets a high-fashion makeover

by Anna Brech
21 Sep 2017

Behind the scenes at Milan Fashion Week

From carb-loading to happy Hadid sisters and Basic Bitch makeup inspiration

by Anna Brech
21 Sep 2017

Stylish hooded coats to see you through the wetter months

And all come in under £150

by Nicola Colyer
21 Sep 2017