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.
This conventional Breton strope top is an evergreen addition to your essentials wardrobe.
Reach for this cashmere sweater on spring afternoons and chilly summer evenings.
Sport this versatile long-sleeve tee with a pair of jeans and sneakers. It will quickly become your weekend uniform.
Add interest to your classic striped tee with a subtle embroidery à la this red-and-white version.
A scoop neckline and 3/4-length sleeves gives this striped top a polished Jackie O effect.
Multi-color stripes offer a cheerful alternative to the classic color combos.
This authentic top hails from the brand's namesake town of Saint James, located in Normandy, France.
This mixed-stripe design offers a stylish twist on the classic print.
Color-blocked stripes are the way to go for a fun, less preppy take on the top.
Up the ante with this striped tee fashioned with a romantic lace collar. Style it with masculine-skewed separates like khakis and loafers.
This red, white, and blue striped button-down has a slightly tomboyish fit that pairs seamlessly with white jeans.