Why Breton is best

Sometimes it is exhausting keeping up with trends and fashion angst can set in – print clashing is a perfect example of a tricky trend. We always hear fashion editors banging on about wardrobe staples – a good pair of jeans, white shirt etc etc and while we love individual style, we also adore handy items of clothing you can thrown on with a favourite pair of jeans and still look chic whatever the season…which is why we love Breton stripes.

So this fashion blogger diligently did some research (ahem Wikipedia) and it confirmed that Breton does indeed come from Brittany France (they even have a stripy flag) but is also a breed of horse (not stripy) and a type of crepe– who knew?!

Hello sailor!

The stripy shirt we all know and love made its first appearance just after the 1858 Act of France which meant that all guys in the French navy in Brittany wore this most stylish of uniforms, although it was called a marinière and had 21 stripes for each of Napoleon’s victories (my equivalent from H&M does not!)

Unsurprisingly folks around the area realised how effortlessly dashing these sailors looked and adopted the Breton top for themselves…as have plenty of fishermen and sailors since. Aptly I believe the real McCoys have a ‘boat’ neckline!

Coco Chanel made Breton chic again in her nautical collection of 1917 and posh folk holidaying on the French Riviera couldn’t get enough of it – women were still cramming themselves into corsets, which are not so handy on the beach so you can see why! Apparently Coco’s Breton top was designed to be worn with long flared trousers and in the 1930s women updated the look teaming their stripes with a natty blazer and shorts.


Onto 1950s Hollywood now and Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn were big fans. Apparently it first popped up in Marlon Brando’s film The Wild Ones, but was more famously worn by eyecandy of the day James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief.

Oh to look like Audrey!

James Dean

Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick ensured that the simple design survived the swinging sixties and it has always been big on the art scene with Pablo Picasso a MASSIVE fan.

SO sixties – Edie

I have been a Breton devotee through the nineties, noughties and now…and will never give it up! It is so rare that you find a pattern that never lets you down and is truly effortless – skinny jeans, ballet pumps, Breton top and trench coat – done. Current obsessions include: Cos’ bright Breton tees, Alexa Chung’s Breton addiction, Kurt Cobain’s indie take and forever the work of Jean Paul Gaultier. How do you wear yours?


Info: Wikipedia and WikiFashion

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