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      Blog — Coco Chanel

      Style: The Breton Striped Top

      Style: The Breton Striped Top

      This season, we're kicking things off with a versatile basic that every woman needs in their wardrobe –– The Breton striped top.

      We've introduced classic black and white Breton stripes into a few of our best sellers, the Orly Long Sleeve Top, the Sousa Top, and also in our brand new favourite, the Anaa Reversible T-Shirt. Each of these easy to wear tops can be mixed and matched for looks that go from day to night. 

      In France, the Breton striped top is known as la marinière (the sailor). More than 150 years ago, in 1858, an act of parliament demanded that 'tricot rayé', or striped knit, became part of Brittany’s naval uniform. 

      The law even stated the exact number of stripes to be knitted into the seamen’s shirts: “the body of the shirt will count twenty-one white stripes, each twice as wide as the twenty to twenty-one indigo blue stripes.” Legend has it that each stripe represented Napoleon’s victories against the British. However, in truth, knitting machines of the time would have found it easier to knit a pattern in this fashion. 

      The Breton shirt was designed without any buttons, zips or pockets, it was simply ready to pull on and go. The classic design minimized the perils of sailors getting snagged or ensnared in rigging or fishing nets and those stripes –– make it easier to spot an overboard sailor. Today, thanks to its simplistic design, the Breton stripe top is an easy to wear classic that literally pairs with anything.

      In 1913 on seeing fishermen wearing cheerful, striped shirts, Coco Chanel was hit with an idea. What she saw there by the sea inspired her couture collection – and the striped marinière ("sailor") top was introduced into popular fashion, making it a stylish investment piece for seaside holidays while also liberating the female form from the period’s constraints of the corset (Thank you Coco)!

      Since the emergence of Breton stripes in high fashion, stylish celebrities have taken the look to new heights. From Picasso and Jean Cocteau to Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn the list of famous faces favouring the classic shirt continue to grow to this day.

      Given its timeless appearance, you can wear the Breton stripe top with almost everything: Dress it up with our Lindy Reversible Blazer and heels for a workday or dress it down with our Beja Straight Leg Pants and boat shoes for the weekend.

      Playlist: Sailor Stripes

      An ode to the cult classic, the Breton striped top. From the seafarers who wore it first, to Coco Chanel who introduced it to women's fashion and the likes of Pablo Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean and others who made it a classic, here is a musical tribute to the infamous stripes.

      Playlist: Sailor Stripes
      1. Breizh eo ma bro –  Olivier de Kersauson
      2. Fanny danse – Les Marins D'Irois
      3. Tri Martolod – Nolwenn Leroy
      4. Broh Gozh Va Zadoù  – Nolwenn Leroy
      5. Premiere Gymnopèdie – Erik Satie
      6. La mauvaise rèputation – Audrey Tatou
      7. Je veux – Zaz
      8. Sally's Tomato – Henry Mancini Orchestra
      9. When Your Lover Has Gone – Billy Holiday
      10. My Funny Valentine  – Frank Sinatra

      Listen on Spotify