by Robyn Yager | If you’ve ever worn a striped t-shirt, sweater, or dress, chances are it was inspired by French navy seaman of the mid-1800’s. The style came about following the 1858 Act of France in Brittany, where the original design featured 21 navy stripes; one for each of Napoleon’s victories. Breton stripes were worn by seafaring men as they were easy to spot while navigating ships and boats.
Their first appearance in the fashion world was in 1917 when Coco Chanel used the pattern in her nautical collection. The Saint James Company has been the original manufacturer since 1889 in Lower Normandy. Since then, Breton stripes have been imitated season after season. In fact, for Spring 2013, Dolce and Gabbana, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Billy Reid, Robert Rodriguez, PPQ, and Y-3 were among some of the designers to recreate this iconic pattern in their runway collections.
Pablo Picasso, James Dean, Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, Anna Karina, and Edie Sedgwick have each famously sported Breton stripes (not to mention Kurt Kobain and Bridget Bardot). Find yours at…
Gravity Pope on West 4th – Boy by Band of Outsiders (on sale!) $144
Neighbour in Gastown – Sunspel, Fine t-shirt Cream/Navy $75.00
Much and Little on Main Street – Small Trades t-shirts and shirts $40-70
The Block in Gastown – Dunderdon Sweater (on sale!) $105
Inventory in Gastown – The Real McCoy’s white and navy striped t-shirt (on sale) $84
Edward Chapman on Granville – Saint James t-shirts and shirts $81-$130
Robyn Yager is the style reporter for Scout Magazine. She runs The Rain Season blog and is enthused by anything out of the ordinary. She loves art, striped shirts, macchiatos, classic literature and picking through thrift stores for unique treasures. Her mission is to inspire Vancouverites in their sartorial choices and to see beauty and style everywhere.