The Breton Shirt. A Classic, indeed. The pattern that has no lack of attention, but I am compelled to focus on, too. The appeal of the Breton shirt pattern has never faltered as a beacon of style throughout its history. The navy and white horizontal stripes have become a classic, basic staple in every wardrobe, for certain. An anchoring staple.
Of course, we all know a bit of its history…Alas, the sea! The 1858 Act of France declared the Breton shirt as an official uniform for all French Navy seamen. The official Breton knit traditionally had either long sleeves or 3/4 sleeves with a boat neck collar. The Breton soon became the iconic shirt for mariners and sailors across the region of Northern France. Interestingly, it was believed that when a sailor fell into the sea, the distinctive pattern of stripes made it easier to spot the fallen sailor in the blurry waves of the water. Who knew? Breton refers to the Brittany region of France. The flag of Brittany, created in 1923, is called the Gwenn-ha-du, which means white and black in Breton. Interestingly, again, it is said that the Breton flag was noticed by a wider public in 1925 at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. Indeed, the allure and attraction of this brilliantly simple pattern was well on its way to becoming an iconic, timeless and classic pattern!
But perhaps we owe this seaworthy pattern that we wrap ourselves in to Coco Chanel (pictured above). Chanel’s infamous trip to the French Riveria in which she was seduced in fascination by the French seamen’s Breton pattern, which impacted her tremendously. In the 1930’s, Breton Stripes in fashion was launched by Mademoiselle Chanel and Breton history as a first-rate fashion staple began! A style that will endure forever….now that is fashion worth following!
Oh, the love of the Breton ‘Stripe’ in interiors! The crisp, bold and horizontal or vertical stylized stripe in furnishings, pillows, and even painted walls! It is not only appealing, but fresh. Tailored and bold. Certainly, in the interiors, the commitment to a pattern is a passionate decision. Bold, indeed. A more subdued version of this staple can be garnered from a pillow, rug or a chair fabric. Either way, the classic appeal of the Breton will never fail you.
Consider the Breton Stripe and anchor your style, in fashion or the interior. For the love of the sea or for the appreciation of its Tres Chic!