By Elly van Zutphen
The Breton stripe
Who does not have a blue and white striped sweater in the closet? Both Misja and I have several ‘stripe versions’ in our closet. On the picture, you see Misja in an original Saint James shirt, which she bought in Brittany 30 years ago. The Breton line cannot be ignored from the streets, in fact, the famous line is more than ever present!
Originally, the Breton line was devised for French fishing. Herewith the official version: A fine knit with a three-quarter sleeve or longer, a boat neck and with 21 navy blue and white stripes (each stripe symbolizes a Napoleon victory!). Thanks to this sweater, seamen who fell overboard could easily be traced. In 1858 the shirt became an official part of the French navy uniform.
It was Coco Chanel who had an eye for the possibilities of the Breton look. In 1917 she picked up the striped fisherman’s clothing in her collection and a timeless fashion item was born. From Picasso to Brigitte Bardot, they all liked to walk in the Breton line.
Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe
Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn
Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo
Picasso and James Dean
In the meantime, the Breton line comes in all sorts of variants in sweaters and cardigans, dresses and hats, scarves, and espadrilles. And they are available in all kinds of colors, such as in purple-white, light-blue-black, black-white or red-white. The French fishermen can be proud!
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