In my family I am known as being the one who wears the stripes. Breton tops are my fashion love and are one of the easiest things to wear and a style classic. Brigitte Bardot, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel were all devotees of the classic breton stripe so if it’s good enough for them it is most certainly good enough for us!
(click on images to enlarge)
Traditionally uniform for french fishermen with 21 stripes representing Napoleon’s victories, the Breton top (which was originally called a marinière or matelotIt) is synonymous with French style and a laid back effortlessness and ease which is just so chic. When you see old photos of the likes of Coco Chanel in her breton stripe she instantly seems a far cry from the no-messing lady of the tweed jacket and pearls and you can imagine her stealing weekends on the Riviera enjoying the simpler pleasures that life has to offer.
Whilst high street versions are lovely, I recently discovered the brand Saint James. Founded in the nineteenth century by the Legallais family, Saint James started out as a small spinning mill which dyed local wool. It was here that the breton fisherman top was supposedly born. It is thought that the classic and traditional Saint James was Chanel’s breton of choice and was the inspiration behind her own breton collection in 1917 which introduced this trusty style into mainstream fashion.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on a Saint James to add to my breton collection and it is already a firm favourite!