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The Breton Stripe Shirts You'll Wear With Everything

This tee is still timeless, 163 years later.

Clothing, Cool, Product, Street fashion, Sports uniform, Font, Headgear, Brand, Photography, Sleeve,
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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 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.

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Lakeside Stripe Crewneck Top
Courtesy
Alex Mill Nordstrom.com
$88.00

This conventional Breton strope top is an evergreen addition to your essentials wardrobe.

Striped Cotton and Cashmere-Blend Sweater
La Ligne net-a-porter.com
$295.00

Reach for this cashmere sweater on spring afternoons and chilly summer evenings.

Long-Sleeve Cotton T-Shirt
Courtesy
J.Crew jcrew.com
$49.50

Sport this versatile long-sleeve tee with a pair of jeans and sneakers. It will quickly become your weekend uniform.

Logo-Embroidered Striped Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt
Courtesy
Bella Freud matchesfashion.com
$112.00

Add interest to your classic striped tee with a subtle embroidery à la this red-and-white version. 

Mariner Stripe Boatneck Top
Frame Nordstrom.com
$178.00

A scoop neckline and 3/4-length sleeves gives this striped top a polished Jackie O effect.

Crewneck Short-Sleeve Stripe
LL Bean llbean.com
$24.95

Multi-color stripes offer a cheerful alternative to the classic color combos.

Breton Striped Shirt
Saint James Saint-James
$85.00

This authentic top hails from the brand's namesake town of Saint James, located in Normandy, France.

Broken Stripe Long-Sleeve Sweater
Courtesy
Victor Glemaud saksfifthavenue.com
$375.00

This mixed-stripe design offers a stylish twist on the classic print.

Striped Cotton Jersey Top
Comme des Garçons GIRL net-a-porter.com
$150.00

Color-blocked stripes are the way to go for a fun, less preppy take on the top.

Lace Collar Striped Tee
Courtesy
Kate Spade katespade.com
$128.00

Up the ante with this striped tee fashioned with a romantic lace collar. Style it with masculine-skewed separates like khakis and loafers.

The Modern Long Sleeve
Courtesy
Kule kule.com
$78.00

This red, white, and blue striped button-down has a slightly tomboyish fit that pairs seamlessly with white jeans.

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