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12 Breton Tops For Spring

Classic yet fresh, a Breton top will always be in style.

The Breton stripe has proved both its longevity and its universal appeal, decade after decade. Ever since Coco Chanel took it from the Brittany coast to the Parisian catwalk, it has graced the wardrobes of style icons from Picasso to Alexa Chung, James Dean to the Duchess of Cambridge. It has long since found its home in that hallowed territory of timeless wardrobe essentials – alongside good denim, a crisp white shirt and a camel coat. Rather than screaming ‘fashion’, it quietly murmurs ‘style’ – which should never be confused with ‘boring’. Wear it in the classic style with a boat neck and a boxy fit; pair it with straight leg jeans and ballet flats for French girl charm; or choose a reinvented nautical stripe, which plays on colourways, scale and fit. Whichever way you go for, here are twelve of our favourites for spring.

Main image: Saint James

By Lydia Mansi
April 2021

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& Other Stories, Relaxed Collared Sailor Stripe Sweater, £65

A twist on a Breton tee, this collared knit from & Other Stories has a definite nautical vibe, yet a more structured silhouette. In a smart navy and cream stripe, pair it with navy trousers and tan accessories for a smart take on this laid-back stripe style.

Petit Bateau, Women's Fine Breton Top, £49

Petit Bateau’s fine gauge, straight-cut Breton is the perfect option for spring layering. Print clash it under a summer dress on cooler days, or wear it beneath a summer knit.

La Redoute, Cotton Mix Jumper With Breton Stripes, £26, NOW £20.

If you’re looking for a heavier weight Breton, opt for a cotton knit jumper in the signature blue and white stripe instead. Pair with this example by La Redoute with a light-wash denim, plimsolls and a classic trench for a timeless spring outfit.

Toast, Stripe Slubby Cotton Tee, £85

The epitome of laid-back style, Toast’s striped tee in slate and cornflower blue has a wide, boxy fit, balanced by a bracelet-length sleeve and wide neck style. Perfect paired with boyfriend jeans and sandals for effortless summer style.

Arket, Crew-Neck Striped T-Shirt, £15

If you’re stripe savvy, Arket’s short-sleeved tee is a great summer addition to your French-inspired wardrobe. Available in a rainbow of shades, from pastel pinks to bold orangey reds.

Jigsaw, Breton Jersey Dress, NOW £29

If your Breton T-shirt wardrobe runneth over, why not branch out into dresses? Jigsaw’s Breton t-shirt dress is an easy jersey shape, which makes it perfect for throwing on over your cossie for a day at the beach, or paired with wedge espadrilles and a market basket for a chic ‘weekend in Provence’ look.

Cos, Wide Neck Long Sleeve T-Shirt, £19

A great striped basic for under £20, Cos has added a classic camel trim to its take on a Breton. With a wide-neck silhouette, it’s perfect for layering over a skinny ribbed polo-neck now, or tout seul as the weather warms.

Boden, Long Sleeve Breton – Ivory/ Navy, Foil Lemons, £32

A thoroughly modern take on a Breton, Boden has sprinkled its classic Maritime stripe with a gold foil lemon motif for a fun, summer twist on a seaside classic.

Seasalt, Sailor Shirt, £29.95

Across The Channel in Cornwall, Seasalt has adopted the striped Breton style and given it a modern Cornish twist. With fourteen colourways available – which go up to a size 28 – there’s nautical blue stripes for the traditionalists, as well as bolder multi-coloured stripes for the modern Breton lover.

Saint James, Tricolor Striped Sailor Jersey, £59

It doesn’t get much more French heritage than Saint James when it comes to Bretons. The village of St. James in the Mont St Michel Bay has a rich maritime textile history, having been founded by William the Conqueror as the perfect terrain to raise sheep for wool to clothe local sailor and fishermen in the 11th-century. Fast-forward to the 19th-century and the striped jersey uniform was adopted by Ms Chanel who then transformed them into the uniform of the fashion set instead. Available today for men, women and children in a classic range of jersey and cotton knit stripes.

The Breton Shirt Co., Classic Breton, £39

For fashion purists, The Breton Shirt Co. offers the real deal in beautiful quality, heavy gauge jersey. Faithful to the original Breton design (which featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories), it has been creating the classic striped top since 1988, and is still made by a family-run company on the Atlantic Coast.

Comme des Garcon, Striped Cotton Jumper, £105

A designer twist on a standard Breton, Comme des Garcons’ striped design features the brand’s signature heart icon design in a monochrome stripe. A chic, unisex update on a classic look.

Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.

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