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The Breton Shirt – A Brief History

Posted on March 29 2017

Like a little black dress or trench coat, a Breton Shirt is a timeless classic for your wardrobe.  But who knew there was such history and symbolism behind it.

While now synonymous with Parisian fashion, the Breton Shirt was originally introduced as the uniform of the French Navy in 1858.  With 21 stripes, each representing one of Napolean’s victories, the Breton Shirt was quickly adopted by seaman across Northern France for its distinctive pattern, which allowed seaman to be easily spotted in the water if they went overboard.   And as a result of it relaxed style and origins, it became popular with the workers of the Breton Social-National Workers Movement.

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French Sailors Aboard Indomitable 1940 | Image/The Chive

Fast forward to the early 1900s, when Coco Chanel introduced the design in her 1917 Nautical Collection and the rest, as they say, is history.

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Coco Chanel | Image/Running in Heels

Whether styled with a beret and cravat or skinny jeans and flats, the Breton Shirt has stood the test of time and is here to stay!

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