The Breton Stripe High: In Celebration Of A Menswear Icon

The Breton Stripe Top: In Celebration Of A Menswear Icon

Few issues are more likely to hyperlink French emperors, A-list actors, grunge icons and dads on the nursery run – least of all a prime initially used to establish individuals on sinking boats. Nonetheless, attracting wearers as numerous as these has been one of many Breton prime’s most notable achievements.

As soon as the unique protect of sailors, for the previous 150 years or so it has given seafarers and landlubbers alike a dose of Gallic cool, making it an everlasting menswear icon that’s greater than price its salt.

Listed by the Museum of Fashionable Artwork as one among 111 traditional clothes that everyone ought to personal, the Breton prime is a modern-day wardrobe important that’s simply at dwelling worn as a part of an informal look as it’s beneath a double-breasted swimsuit. However with many variations accessible as we speak and an fascinating historical past besides, there are many inquiries to ask before you purchase your individual.

The place Did The Breton High Come From?

The Breton prime’s origins date again to 1858, and the Act of France, when the French navy launched a white cotton pullover with indigo horizontal stripes as its official uniform. It was sensible – in that it was straightforward to identify if anybody fell overboard, and the large ‘boat’ neckline made it simpler to peel off and wave for assist – nevertheless it additionally carried a message; its 21 bars symbolised every of Napoleon’s naval victories over the English.

Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso

The Breton prime sailed into civilian life within the 1920s, because of American socialites Gerald and Sara Murphy, who invented the ‘summer season’ on the Cote d’Azur. In 1923, Gerald returned from a visit to Marseille with a bunch of the shirts from an area atelier, and shortly the Murphys and their A-list visitors – together with The Nice Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald and Spanish painter Pablo Picasso – had been all sporting them by the pool.

James DeanJames Dean

Designer Coco Chanel later included the stripes into her nautical-inspired collections, and the Breton went on to lend somewhat Riviera-inspired nonchalance to everybody from James Dean and Andy Warhol to Kurt Cobain and Jean-Paul Gaultier (who additionally showcased it on his Le Male perfume bottle). As Luc Lesencal, chief government of recent Breton model Saint James, says: “The Breton is beyond fashion. It’s a timeless classic.”

Andy WarholAndy Warhol

three Key Breton High Kinds

The Breton T-Shirt

The entry-level Breton prime for a lot of guys might not be the purists’ alternative, however the striped T-shirt nonetheless carries sufficient hallmarks to get a cross. And, because it appears to be like as cool on Brigitte Bardot because it does on Ernest Hemingway, it’s one of many earliest and most potent symbols of gender parity.


The Breton Lengthy Sleeve T-Shirt

The traditional Breton prime. The boat neck and the additional stripes add that ineffable je ne sais quoi, whether or not you’re slouching about on the weekend or heading out on a date. Push the sleeves up for an added contact of nonchalance, or tuck it right into a pair of pleated trousers if you wish to smarten up.

The Idle ManThe Idle Man

The Breton Jumper

A better tackle the hardy perennial, in suitably light-weight wool or jersey, lets you carry the Breton stripe into the night. So long as that night entails sipping Negronis on a yacht in San Tropez harbour or, you already know, the pub backyard.


three Methods To Put on The Breton High


The Breton prime oozes casual-with-attitude, and is at dwelling inside a variety of informal outfits. The obvious alternative is to pair it with selvedge denim and desert boots, nevertheless it works simply as properly with navy wide-legged chinos and trainers.

Trying again to the icons, authentic Breton adopter Gerald Murphy was photographed at Cap d’Antibes within the ’20s, his long-sleeve Breton prime offset by white shorts, espadrilles and a chunky strolling stick; whereas Picasso, pictured within the ’40s, spiced his T-shirt up with a ten-gallon hat and a revolver, taking insouciance to an entire new stage.



In case your standard benchmark when getting dressed is “what would Cary Grant do?” then you definitely’re in luck. Mr Grant nailed smart-casual Breton styling in 1955’s To Catch A Thief by pairing his reverse Breton – navy background, high quality white stripes – with a pink bandana.

Fashionable designers have used the Breton prime as a layering piece, with former Burberry boss Christopher Bailey inserting it beneath an outsized short-sleeved shirt and tucking it into pleated chinos for a type of grunge overseas look – a nod, maybe, to Kurt Cobain’s fondness for the storied stripe.



You don’t must go so far as Scott Fitzgerald, who was pictured on the Cote d’Azur within the ’20s sporting a long-sleeved Breton prime with a tweed jacket and plus fours (basically wide-leg pantaloons that end beneath the knee). However it scrubs up surprisingly properly, notably in case you take a traditional indigo-on-white Breton jumper and put on it over a buttoned-up shirt with gray or navy chinos.

Or just let your stripes sing beneath a light-weight blazer or a navy seersucker swimsuit, as championed by the likes of Ami and Officine Generale. “It always adds a nice graphic pop to an outfit,” says Saint James’ Luc Lesencal.


5 Of The Greatest Breton Manufacturers

St. James

You need custom? St. James has its roots in a French village with a thousand-year textile manufacturing report. Each month, virtually 239,000 miles of wool is knitted in its manufacturing facility, the overwhelming majority of which is woven into the best Breton tees and jumpers (they’ve additionally collaborated with J.Crew and Coach, amongst others). “We twist our iconic pieces to create modern styles that can stand for many seasons,” says Lesencal.

Armor Lux

Unimpeachably Breton – it was based in 1938 in Quimper, a metropolis within the northwest of Brittany – Armor Lux is the final producer of the Breton shirt within the area, and dietary supplements the traditional fashion with ‘mariniere multicolore’ T-shirts (AKA totally different colors) in addition to Breton beanies, scarves, and even slippers. In response to the model’s export supervisor, Marco Petrucci, “The Breton top fits in with a cool weekend outfit as well as a sportswear look, but even when combined in a rather formal context, it still fits.”

Officine Generale

Officine Generale founder Pierre Maheo spent his childhood in Brittany, and whereas his father was a roughly completely Breton’d oysterman, his grandfather was a sharply suited tailor. Maybe that’s why among the many model’s collections you’ll see a variant on the Breton tee (sharpened up, maybe, by a navy/gray color combo) worn beneath blazers or slouchy fits. “It’s part of my DNA,” says Maheo of the Breton prime, “so it’s a thread running through the brand.”


A contemporary tackle the standard Breton prime, Arpenteur’s ranges, made in France, add vibrant oranges, yellows, blues and greens into the combination, typically on the identical garment. The model’s outerwear providing is one other spotlight, and it’s recognized for underrated collaborations with different French mainstays equivalent to century-old footwear model Paraboot.

Mr P

The in-house of name of menswear etailer Mr Porter says it’s, “inspired by well-dressed men, past and present … and is as stylish as it is timeless.” With these standards, how might it not produce its personal tackle the Breton prime? From long-sleeve cotton-jersey T-shirts with chunky boat necks to fine-stripe roll-necks, these are elevated variations on the mariniere theme.

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