There are few wardrobe staples that have experienced the longevity of the nautical striped shirt. Be it boat cut and preppy, or boy cut and more punk-oriented, fashionistas from every sphere have gravitated towards this statement piece for well over a century:
In New York, nautical stripes seem to be the new ish, but where did this precious garment that has officially overtaken my wardrobe come from? Oh cheri, I thought you might never ask!
Monsieur James Dean:
Traditionally, these stripes date back to the 1800s, and were the unofficial uniform for fishermen off the coast of Brittany. Designed to help other sailors more easily identify those who’d fallen overboard, the shirt originally featured 21 stripes to symbolize each of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories and had a close-knit, double twist cotton that would protect nos amis from the sudden and violent gusts of wind that are typical of the Brittany coast.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Coco Chanel’s original designs introduced a number of traditionally male pieces to the female market, and the striped shirt is no exception. In 1917, Mademoiselle Chanel reapropriated the iconic look for her fashion house. Et voila – a rebellious piece that continues to make the rounds every few years became a part of the mainstream.
All hail the Breton shirt!