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When it comes to men’s and women’s fashion that will just never go out of style, look no further than the classic Breton top. This French top has been worn throughout the years by everyone from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pablo Picasso to Brigitte Bardot and Andy Warhol. The Breton top has become synonymous with the rich and famous, and so sporting one yourself will give you an instant boost of class.
Wondering how to wear and style this shirt with stripes? Here’s some celebrity inspiration on how to wear a Breton top to help you create a fresh look with the classic style.
The traditional Breton top was originally introduced in 1858 as the official uniform of French navy seamen in the north of France in 1858, with the original design of 21 stripes representing each of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories.
The top would later gain prominence in the fashion world after Coco Chanel became inspired by the uniform and incorporated the stripes in her 1917 nautical collection, forever changing the casualwear game.
While he never wore it in his films, James Dean would be well-remembered wearing the Breton shirt as it was a staple in his own casual wardrobe in day-to-day life. We love how the heritage menswear top incorporates a collar and thicker cuffs, making it a suitable outfit idea for colder weather.
A big reason people love to shop for and wear Breton tops today is their versatility. You can easily style it with key pieces that make it smarter while still allowing its casualness to pull through. Consider this blue outfit on Viggo Mortensen, as the blue coordinate and navy provide a fun styling and pop of colours. Dress a look like this with a pair of loafers for an outfit that treads the line between casual and smart.
Jean Paul Gaultier is another fashion figure that has made styling the Breton shirt part of his uniform. He paired the striped top here with contrasting bright red colours in his blazer and kilt, offering for an effortlessly cool and statement twist on the posh favourite. Take a style page out of his book and don’t be afraid to play around with your wardrobe.
If you’re looking to bring the Breton top down to earth a bit, you may want to wear more relaxed silhouettes and casual accessories. Here’s a look worn by Orlando Bloom that makes the Breton top really friendly for the weekdays, paired simply with a button-down top, black jeans, and some cool necklaces.
Audrey Hepburn was known for many things, from her acting skills, humanitarian work, beauty, and her fashion. While she would often be seen in glamorous dresses or a romantic skirt, she would also regularly sport the Breton top with jeans and trousers on her off-days. Try out the look by pairing a black Breton top with black jeans for a monochrome look, or a white colour for a bit more of a contrast.
The Duchess of Cambridge has been spotted in the Breton top more than once, and we love how easily she can dress it up or down. Take inspiration from this chic all-navy outfit, using a blazer as a layering piece and some wedge heels to make it instantly smart. This is the perfect look to head out of the house in and know you look good, and you can easily swap colours such as a darker Breton style with some white jeans.
Alexa Chung has been an It Girl in the beauty and fashion styling game for a while, and her being spotted wearing Breton tops definitely made for a spike in the style as a trend in the 2010s. Here she is wearing a stunning bright red colour with some denim shorts, a perfect look for summer. You can also opt to wear white shorts or a short denim skirt for a similar feel.
Caroline De Maigret shows us that Breton stripes don’t just have to be reserved for summer. The French model pairs the classic pattern with a blazer and a coat layered over her shoulders, making for a classy yet casual outfit to throw on in the colder season.
Breton tops are such a classic piece that have yet to go out of style since they were first introduced into mainstream fashion over 100 years ago. Today, we can shop the look from virtually any brand and site, so going on a search for the top is as easy as can be. No matter who you are or how you dress, the Breton top is sure to fit your brand of fashion.