Welcome to The Essentials, our weekly series highlighting a must-have classic, key to building a timeless, pulled-together closet.
In 1858, the distinctive Breton stripe was officially dubbed the uniform of the French navy. The blue-and-white tee, with 21 total stripes (a tribute to each one of Napoleon’s victories) was an easy way to detect the whereabouts of unlucky French sailors who’d fallen overboard on the high seas. In the ’50s, the style was catapulted to fame via French cinema girls, Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Seberg. Today, the Breton stripe top is an accessible wardrobe piece for anyone.
For those who deem the tee a little too classic, we’ve found new fashion takes that veer away the 21-stripe requirement and traditional color schemes. Nautical by nature, a Breton-style top will look dreamy on a sailboat or amidst the French Riviera scene, but realistically it’s also a smart work-from-home uniform paired with a jogger or jean. Ahead, shop our favorites.
Alex Mill Lakeside Stripe Crewneck Top
This conventional Breton stripe top is an evergreen addition to your essentials wardrobe.
La Ligne Striped Top
Reach for this soft cotton jersey top on as a base layer, peaking out under sweaters and blazers.
J.Crew Long-Sleeve Cotton T-Shirt
Sport this versatile long-sleeve tee with a pair of jeans and sneakers. It will quickly become your weekend uniform.
Bella Freud Logo-Embroidered Striped Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt
Add interest to your classic striped tee with a subtle embroidery à la this red-and-white version.
Boden Stiped Top
A sweet bow neckline and ruched shoulder gives this striped top a polished Jackie O effect.
LL Bean Crewneck Short-Sleeve Stripe
Multi-color stripes offer a cheerful alternative to the classic color combos.
More Joy by Christopher Kane Top
This relaxed fit Breton stripe tee will in-fact add more joy to your wardrobe. Pair it with your favorite jeans and sneakers to master your weekend look.
Saint James Stripe Merino Wool Sweater
This authentic Breton striped sweater hails from the brand’s namesake town of Saint James, located in Normandy, France.
Comme des Garçons GIRL Striped Cotton Jersey Top
Color-blocked stripes are the way to go for a fun, laid back take on the traditional Breton stripe design.
Everlane Modern Breton Tee
Style this minimalist Breton stripe tee with masculine-skewed separates like khakis and loafers.
Kule The Modern Long Sleeve
This red, white, and blue striped button-down has a slightly tomboyish fit that pairs seamlessly with white jeans.