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The Breton striped top, also known as the marinière, is a classic piece of menswear with a rich history and timeless appeal. Originally worn by French sailors, this nautical-inspired shirt has become a staple in men’s fashion, celebrated for its versatility and effortless style. This guide will explore the history of the Breton stripe, how to wear it, and where to find the best Breton striped tops for men.

History of the Breton Striped Top

Origins in the French Navy

The Breton striped top was first introduced as part of the French Navy’s uniform in 1858. The shirt, characterized by its horizontal blue and white stripes, was designed to be practical and easy to spot in the waves if a sailor fell overboard. The original design featured 21 stripes, said to represent each of Napoleon’s victories.

Adoption by Fashion Icons

In the 20th century, the Breton striped top transcended its nautical origins and entered the realm of fashion. Icons like Coco Chanel popularized the marinière in the 1910s, and it was later embraced by style legends such as James Dean, Pablo Picasso, and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Its effortless style and versatility have made it a beloved wardrobe staple ever since.

How to Wear a Breton Striped Top

1. Casual Look

For a laid-back, casual look, pair your Breton striped top with classic blue jeans and white sneakers. This combination is timeless and perfect for everyday wear.

Example Outfit:

  • Navy and white Breton striped top
  • Blue jeans
  • White sneakers

2. Smart-Casual Look

To elevate your Breton striped top for a smart-casual ensemble, combine it with tailored chinos and a lightweight blazer. Add loafers or desert boots to complete the look.

Example Outfit:

  • Navy and white Breton striped top
  • Beige chinos
  • Navy blazer
  • Brown loafers

3. Nautical Look

Embrace the nautical heritage of the Breton striped top by wearing it with white or navy shorts and boat shoes. This outfit is perfect for summer outings or seaside vacations.

Example Outfit:

  • White and navy Breton striped top
  • White shorts
  • Navy boat shoes

4. Layered Look

In cooler weather, layer your Breton striped top under a denim jacket or a trench coat. This adds warmth and a stylish touch to your outfit.

Example Outfit:

  • Black and white Breton striped top
  • Black jeans
  • Denim jacket
  • Black boots

Choosing the Right Breton Striped Top

1. Fit

Choose a Breton striped top that fits well and complements your body shape. Look for a top that is neither too tight nor too loose. A slim or regular fit is usually the most flattering.

2. Fabric

Opt for high-quality fabrics such as cotton or a cotton blend. These materials are breathable, comfortable, and durable. Traditional Breton tops are often made from heavyweight cotton, which provides structure and longevity.

3. Stripe Pattern

While the classic Breton top features navy and white stripes, you can find variations in different colors. Choose a stripe pattern that suits your personal style. Narrow stripes offer a more traditional look, while wider stripes can make a bolder statement.

4. Brand

Consider reputable brands known for their quality and authenticity when it comes to Breton striped tops. Some brands to consider include Saint James, Armor-Lux, and Petit Bateau, which are celebrated for their classic Breton designs.

Where to Buy Breton Striped Tops for Men

1. Saint James

Description: Saint James is a renowned French brand known for its authentic Breton tops. Their marinières are made from high-quality cotton and feature the classic stripe pattern.

Why Choose: Saint James offers traditional craftsmanship and timeless style, making their Breton tops a worthy investment.

2. Armor-Lux

Description: Armor-Lux, another iconic French brand, provides a wide range of Breton striped tops. Their products are known for their quality, comfort, and authentic nautical style.

Why Choose: Armor-Lux combines heritage with modernity, offering both classic and contemporary designs.

3. Petit Bateau

Description: Petit Bateau is famous for its high-quality basics, including Breton striped tops. Their tops are soft, durable, and come in various colors and styles.

Why Choose: Petit Bateau offers a mix of traditional and modern Breton tops, ensuring versatility and comfort.

4. J.Crew

Description: J.Crew offers a selection of Breton striped tops that blend classic design with contemporary styling. Their tops are affordable and stylish, suitable for various occasions.

Why Choose: J.Crew provides a modern twist on the classic Breton top, making it accessible and fashionable.

5. Uniqlo

Description: Uniqlo is known for its high-quality, affordable basics. Their Breton striped tops are well-made and available in a variety of fits and colors.

Why Choose: Uniqlo offers great value for money, providing stylish and comfortable Breton tops at an affordable price.

Conclusion

The Breton striped top is a timeless piece that every man should have in his wardrobe. Its versatility and classic style make it suitable for various occasions, from casual outings to smart-casual events. By choosing a high-quality Breton striped top and styling it appropriately, you can effortlessly achieve a range of looks that are both fashionable and timeless. Whether you opt for a traditional design from a heritage brand or a modern interpretation, the Breton striped top is sure to be a valuable addition to your fashion repertoire.