A Breton stripe boat neck t shirt is a fashion icon not only of classic French style but also that of nautical style. But why? In 1858, the shirt started out as the official uniform for French Navy seamen stationed in Brittany but quickly became popular among working mariners due to the comfortable, durable nature of the garment. The distinctive 21 stripes of the original design (one for each of Napoléon Bonaparte's victories) also made the garment easier to spot among the waves.
Mademoiselle Chanel included a Breton stripe top in her 1917 nautical collection and later the Beatnik movement adopted the design as their own in the 50's & 60's with notable devotees such as Brigitte Bardot, Edie Sedgwick and Audrey Hepburn. Today, the iconic shirt is seen well beyond France on stylish ladies, gents and children.
If you only purchase one, make sure it's from Saint James, the legendary manufacturer of the original design, which still supplies the French Navy and French Army with their official uniform sweaters.