While other trends come and go, one style that never seems to go out of fashion is the Breton stripe.
First introduced in 1858 as a uniform for the French navy, the Breton stripe caught the attention of Coco Chanel when she visited the French coast. She incorporated the stripes into her 1917 nautical-themed collection and the rest is fashion history.
It’s one of those styles that’s a godsend to busy mums on tight budgets. It can be worn with pretty much anything and, when you invest in your own wardrobe, you want to choose pieces you know won’t only be worn for one season. Here are my favourite Breton stripes for spring and summer:
If it’s good enough for Ms Beckham
While she’s hardly renowned for her casual attire, Spice Girl-turned-fashion-designer Victoria Beckham proved she can do dress-down cool recently when she touched down in Cape Town wearing Breton stripes and a khaki jacket. Victoria’s tee was from Saint Laurent, and Matches Fashion has a similar top in wide navy and narrow white stripes. It’s undeniably expensive, but it’s a piece you would wear year after year. It would look beautiful worn simply with a pair of skinny jeans and nude ballet pumps. For a dressier look, you could wear with a statement necklace, a skater skirt and brogues.
Three trends in one
I absolutely love the fisherman-style t-shirt from La Redoute. It’s a bargain price, at just £11 in the sale at the moment. And, while it’s a classic style staple, it has a couple of twists that mean it stands out among a sea of other Breton tops. The lace detailing around the neckline gives it a ladylike vibe and the yellow stripe means it’s bang-on-trend for this season, with yellow being one of the key hues of spring/summer 2014. It could be worn with a pair of leather leggings for off-duty days or with a pencil skirt and slingbacks for work.
Not just for tee shirts
Breton stripes are undoubtedly seen most on classic t-shirts, but the style works on just about every item of attire you can think of, just as long as you don’t wear them all at once of course. The Vinny Café flat ballerina pumps from Rocket Dog are impossibly cute with their stripes, yellow bow and polka dot lining. You’ll just have to be careful they don’t vanish into your little ones’ dressing up box.
The super-flattering dress
Horizontal stripes can be notoriously difficult to wear, adding width where you don’t want it. But Halston Heritage’s navy and white striped dress is one of the most flattering designs I’ve seen in a long time. The stripes run diagonally at the waist, creating an illusion of slimness while creating shape and the structured skirt flares over any problem tummy areas. It would look equally beautiful to complement hour-glass figures or to add shape to athletic shapes. And, you could dress it down with a pair of metallic brogues or team it with heels and a clutch bag when those invites to summer weddings start to flood in.
The great thing about trends that stick around season-upon-season is you can often pick them up through a rummage around your local charity or vintage store. The Anna Scott striped cardigan from Oxfam’s vintage shop is a case in point. In a flattering waterfall design, it would look beautiful worn over skinny jeans or with shorts to keep you warm on the beach on a family holiday.
Whichever piece you opt for, choosing Breton stripes is a sure fire way to make sure your purchase has longevity. After all, it’s nearly a century since Chanel first brought the iconic look to the world of fashion so we can’t see our love affair with the Breton stripe waning anytime soon.