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Coco Chanel wore one. The staff of French Vogue wear them. And this summer, you can't go anywhere in Europe without seeing Breton tops on chic girls and all over the trendiest shops. But what's the allure of a long-sleeve horizontally-striped T-shirt?
The Breton shirt has its humble beginnings in Brittany, France. According to fashion lore, the bright white-and-navy shirt was created by an 1858 government safety act—the French believed that the stark contrast of the shirt against the sea would make it easier to spot and save sailors who'd fallen overboard.
Originally a men's shirt—the Saint James version, above, has been made in France since 1889—the Breton was most famously adopted for mainstream womenswear when Coco Chanel wore her own adaptation of the shirt, which she called the marinière, in 1917 in Deauville—the site of the first Chanel boutique in the world.
· Women's nautical T-shirts [Saint James]
· Breton striped sailor shirt [Woodenboat]
· Why everyone is wearing Breton tops [Guardian]