What are Breton shirts?

What is a Breton shirt to you? To some, it’s a stylish and timeless wardrobe piece that seems to go well with any outfit, regardless of the season. To others, it’s a wearable piece of history, a nod to French sailors of old.

Actually…it’s a bit of both. But there’s more to a Breton shirt than meets the eye. Read on to learn more about what makes a Breton shirt…well, a Breton shirt.

Breton Shirt Basics

The key answer to ‘what makes a Breton shirt a Breton shirt’ is, of course, ‘the stripes.’

A classic Breton shirt typically has horizontal stripes, alternating between dark navy blue and white. As tastes have evolved over time, though, it’s not uncommon to find stripes in other colours, such as red, green, pink and ecru.

Regardless of the colourway, the horizontal stripes are what make a Breton shirt. As for how many stripes a Breton shirt needs? Historically, Breton shirts had 21 stripes, but now the sky’s the limit when it comes to stripe count and thickness.

The History of the Breton Shirt

The original 21-stripe design of Breton shirts harks back to the 19th Century, when striped shirts became the official uniform of the French navy. The number, width and colour of the stripes were all decided with military precision, with a stripe count of 21 being seen as a visual aid to spot sailors who’d fallen overboard.

The Breton stripe began to be viewed as a fashion statement in the early 20th Century, when French fashion designer Coco Chanel sought inspiration from the Navy’s uniform. The Breton stripes were featured in her 1917 nautical collection, and thus history was made.

Other fashion icons have gone on to rep the Breton stripe. From Jean Paul Gaultier and Kate Moss to Taylor Swift and even the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, countless celebrities over the years have hopped onto the Breton fan train and helped the beloved stripe earn its stripes.

Breton Shirts Today

As touched upon above, Breton shirts now come in a wide array of colours, stripe count and thickness, and even shirt material and style. Where before Breton shirts were only worn by Navy sailors and fishermen, now you can wear a Breton dress, a Breton jumper or a Breton polo shirt. The variations are endless.

Breton shirts of today are no longer just the uniform of the French Navy or the runway pieces of some high fashion designers. Now, everyone can get in on the Breton action.

Where to Get a Breton Shirt

Now that you’re basically an expert on Breton shirt history, you need a Breton shirt of your own to embrace your new knowledge. Hey, we don’t make the rules here.

If it’s Breton striped shirts you’re looking for, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Whether it’s a classic navy blue and white top that you’re after, or something with a little more colour or a non-traditional style (Breton scarf and socks, anyone?), there’s something for everyone on our website. Go on, have a look.

Until next time...