More on the Breton Stripe
It’d be hard to say that I have a favorite piece from all of those that I highlighted in my most recent post, but if I had to choose, I would perhaps choose the Breton stripe. I find it to have the most intriguing history, at the very least.
As I previously stated,
The Breton stripe, or the nautical stripe, dates back to 1858. Declared into existence by the March 27, 1858 Act of France, the Breton stripe started off as a uniform for the French Navy. The stripes were said to be easily recognizable underwater, you know, for saving drowning sailors and such. Like many other fashion staples, it was quickly re-apportioned by non-military personnel for personal use.
After it came into existence, it was quickly picked up as general mariner wear by nautical types: sailors, fishermen, and others who made their trade on the sea. But for a while, the popularity and use of it was contained to northern France. This makes sense, because northern France is the area of Brittany (the area for which the stripe is named). I feel like there’s often confusion in regards to the origin of the Breton stripe. Since it’s sometimes referred to as “Briton stripes” and not Breton, people often assume that the famous stripe has some sort of origin in Britain. However, this is not the case. The Breton stripe is indeed French. Something that is not widely known is that the area of Brittany is often referred to as “Lesser Britain”, which explains why Great Britain is referred to as…Great Britain. Of course, northern France is just miles from the British Isles, so it makes sense that there’s been so much cross-cultural influence.
the flag of brittany, influenced by the breton stripe
Interestingly enough, the area of Brittany is said to be one of the six Celtic nations, and the Breton language is indeed a Celtic language.
which explains why these french soldiers are playing bagpipes
One of my favorite things about Breton stripes is their versatility. I featured them on this site as a summer staple, but really they can be worn year-round. These stripes look good on sweaters, polos, v-necks, crewnecks, t-shirts, long sleeves, and any other conceivable top.
they also look really good on james dean
But Breton stripes don’t have to be contained to just tops. I ran across an interesting photo of an individual sporting Breton striped socks. Pretty genius if you ask me. Striped socks are always the way to go (as Josh showed in my previous post).
And of course Breton stripes are completely unisex. Perhaps nobody wore them better than Audrey Hepburn.
What started off as 21 navy blue stripes (one for each of Napoleon’s victories) on a white shirt has evolved into so much more. And I absolutely love it. Find yourself a stripe for each season. I’m about to begin the process myself.