If you describe your style as classic or preppy, you should have at least one Breton style top in your wardrobe! The Breton top is a classic and has been popular with the fashion set for nearly a century, after Coco Chanel introduced the top to her fashion collection in 1917.
The original, classic Breton top was worn by sailors in the French navy, was introduced in 1858, and was supposed to feature 21 stripes for Napoleon’s 21 victories. The lore surrounding the Breton top also states that the stripes were selected so that a sailor would stand out in the sea if he fell overboard! Breton tops are most classically defined as navy and white, although red and white is fairly usual alternative. These tops have been worn by Audrey Hepburn, Kate Middleton, Marilyn Monroe, Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, and Alexa Chung, to name but a few. Taking stock of my wardrobe recently, I realised that Breton stripes had become something of an obsession, so I decided to do a post featuring a few of my current favourites!
Starting from the top left is a striped sailor jumper from Petit Bateau (£90), a French company that is justly famous for both its marinière Breton stripes, and its iconic yellow raincoats. Next, a budget option from F&F for £12, this loose style tee is perfect for creating a chic look on a shoestring. Next, on the left middle, J.Crew’s collaboration with Saint James, £80. This company has produced Breton tops in Normandy since 1889, and is the original manufacturer of the Breton top – you can’t get a better pedigree than that! Also on the middle row is Joules’ Harbour top in red and blue, £25. Joules’ Harbour tops are a staple of the company and come in a range of variations at a wallet-friendly price! On the bottom row, I love this red Haley top from Hobbs, £35 – it also comes in a lighter blue and navy. Finally, a twist on the classic, this J.Crew top, £45, features a boat neck and stripes down the side of the arms for another new take on the classic look.
Of course, if you want to channel Kate’s nautical style, you can still pick up the Breton top from ME+EM that she’s been photographed wearing a couple of times. It’s priced at £48 and is available here (Kate’s top is cobalt and white.)
Do you have any Breton stripes in your wardrobe? And how do you like to style them? I’d love to know – leave me a comment!