breton stripes caroline-de-maigret

I love a good stripe. And at this time of year, the long-sleeved Breton top comes into it’s own. Wrapped up warm for outdoors, I go for the striped t-shirt under jumper, under coat arrangement. Sometimes a jumpsuit is involved. And a jacket. Depending on the coat. Step indoors and the layers come straight off; and rather than stand around in a skanky vest, I like to be prepared with my signature stripes. Early Bretons had 21 stripes, one for each of Napolean’s victories, until he met his match at Waterloo. Some of my favourites striped tops are from Ines de La Fressange at Uniqlo, Petit Bateau and Gudrun Sjoden (below) who is celebrating 40-years in fashion and works in eco-cotton, ‘Designing with a long lifespan has been my most important contribution to a greener world.’ Nice one. Breton stripes, not just for summer and definitely not just for Parisians:


striped tshirt

Scandi Saturday’s are back and we’ve just started watching BBC4’s Modus; the latest drama based on a book by Anne Holt and set in Stockholm. A couple of episodes in and I’m enthralled. That’s my next few weekends sorted: glass of red wine on the sofa, in my Gudrun t-shirt. Getting Hygge.

More Breton stripes. Guaranteed to send your eyes squiffy:

29 thoughts on “Breton stripes: not just for summer

  1. Most of my t shirts have stripes and I have one really old real breton with red and white stripes that I still wear, I reckon I have had it for 25 years…Loving ‘Modus’ too x

  2. Just back from wonderful Copenhagen – where Bretons abounded as you’d promised in your book! I also rediscovered ‘Sand’ – which I used to be able to buy easily in Dublin – but find very few stockists here. Sadly. With you on Modus though – gripping.

  3. A quick trawl of my wardrobe reveals fourteen Breton stripes in a variety of weights and seasonal variations with contributions from M&S, H&M,Agnes B, Lidl ( yes, really) Uniqlo et al. Some of them should probably be pensioned off but I love them all dearly and
    I can’t bear to part with them. Generally I’m not very fond of prints so my Bretons are the closest I’ll come to pattern. I certainly wouldn’t want to restrict them to one season of the year or, Heaven forbid, when I’m prancing around on a boat. No offence intended to any sailors…’s just that I’m not a good sailor and even the sight of heavy seas on TV sets me off!!
    Long live Breton stripes in all their infinite variety of weight, colour and price!!!!

  4. I LOVE a breton stripe – I always have at least 4 stripy tops on the go at any one time, in fact I love them so much I’ve got a navy/ivory breton stripe vanity case with red trim coming out in Debenhams in the spring. Unfortunately not able to post a pic, otherwise I would have shared with you all!

  5. My three-year-old granddaughter was eyeing my wardrobe and said, “Nonna, you have lots of stripey things!” I bought a couple of lovely stripey tops from ME+EM and Whistles. I love them.

  6. I can’t personally get my head around winter Breton stripes. To me, they scream spring/summer. I have tried to wear mine in colder months with a navy cashmere v neck or cardi. but I think I will save mine for the spring.

  7. Glad to know that Bretons are abundant in Copenhagen as I am off there on Thursday with 3 packed. And they do look much better than a vest when the Hygge ing in the cafes. Love Modus but found it initially strange as the book was based on Oslo and Bergen as Anne Holt is Norwegian. However OH pointed out that the production company are Swedish so
    locations changed to Uppsala and Stockholm.

  8. For more than one reason I aim for high quality and low quantity when it comes to wardrobe. But I am in the market for a new striped T. It’s got to be perfect for me, just like most of my stuff.

    My last “stripey” was cheap but stylish (Joe Fresh circa 2009) with skinny stripes, 3/4 sleeves and a lovely boat neck with a thin band of solid black trim at the neck. I wore it until there were holes.

    I am very tempted by that blue on blue (on my monitor) from Gudrun S. for the colour combo, apparent quality of the fabric and the trim – a small detail with a big impact.

    I will have to watch out for “Modus”… never heard of it. I’m addicted to crime thrillers, actually any well-made show from Scandinavia… well I even liked Dicte, which can be a bit cheesy but has a good cast. (Hey I just Googled it… they have a third season. Hurray!)

  9. I have so many of these tee shirts that I need to start wearing them in the winter. Layering them under sweaters is a great idea. I saw one somewhere (Pinterest) with just the bottoms of the sleeves peeking out under a heavy wool turtleneck. Looked great and I’m going to try that. Also helps with people who find heavy sweaters a bit itchy.

  10. I have a delicious J Crew pink and white breton boatneck but sorry – at the time of writing I’m in silk thermals and heavy-ply cashmere!

  11. Love stripes! My favorite winter striped Ts (and turtlenecks) are black/grey or navy/grey (with thinner stripes), but I do like my black/white ones with a black jumpsuit.

  12. Just wore my navy/white one yesterday, under a sweater, where the cuffs and neckline were peeking out. I’ve had good luck with Boden. The cotton is substantial, the colors don’t face, and there’s a cool touch of twill at the collar and the vents at the bottom, in a contrasting color.

  13. Love all of the Stripes you’ve shown-!
    My most recent Stripe is a narrow – horazontal – Black & White one on a light-weight Fabric.
    Wore it with a Black Tunic and Black Pants and Black Boots.
    Over all – I tossed on a Deep Red Cordoroy Jacket – Loved how the small Black & White Stripes
    peeped out at the neckline and at the end of the sleeves – just the Right detail -!
    Also Enjoy Gudrun Sjoden -! A great – imaginative and prolific Designer-!

  14. I’m a stripes and sweater lady too, I find Breton t-shirts a good base layer under wool or cashmere as it’s too itchy next to my skin otherwise. No-one has mentioned the COS version , new colours every season lovely Pima cotton and reasonably priced.

  15. Stripes are the only pattern I truly can wear comfortably, without feeling like I’m wearing a costume. I can’t imagine wearing sweaters without a tee or button down underneath (usually adding a silk or merino top when it gets really cold/damp), and love to have the stripes peek out. The J Crew cuffed version is very intriguing.

  16. I do love a stripey T shirt and have more than one for every day of the week. Jigsaw do a basic Breton which I’m particularly fond of. I too am hooked on ‘Modus’ having watched the first episode on catch up. Looking forward to the next episodes.

  17. Love a Breton year-round.
    Alyson: A quick note to say thank you for the blog. I’ve been reading off and on for a couple years now, but recently I seem to be leaning on it more and more — particularly love the photos of you in styles I otherwise might have ignored (those jumpsuits!), and the profiles of creative types and how they express that sartorially as well. Any chance you’d ever chat with American artist Maira Kalman? She’s one of those uniform dressers and yet she has undeniable style.

    1. Thanks for mentioning Kettlewell. I can add it to my list of companies who deliver to Greece. There are still quite a few companies who don’t deliver here although I must admit it has improved of late, but all too often I find the ideal garment only to discover that it can’t be sent here.
      I love the winter Breton and wonder if I have the room to add it to my ever growing collection!!

  18. Despite my previous ramblings, as I was so totally outnumbered on this Breton thing for winter I put one on today with navy Banana Republic light wool trousers and a navy cashmere cardi and it felt good. The wonderful thing about this blog is that it takes ‘careful’, ‘safe’ dressers like me out of my comfort zone. I wore all this navy with a rich olive quilted jacket and I felt good. I concede, I was wrong!!!! (My bretons are H&M Conscious organic cotton which are amazingly soft and snuggly, a good length for a long torso person and they go in the tumble dryer without shrinking).

  19. I like stripes too in every season, not just t-shirts but striped knitwear too. With regards Breton tops the classic French brands are excellent, they wash well and don’t shrink. Colours fade a bit but they still look good. For more fashiony ones at a good price and quality I have a few from Cos, including tops with different widths of stripe. Last summer Toast also did some good colour ways in a linen cotton mix which is pleasant to wear in warm weather.

Leave a Reply

Thank you for commenting but please be respectful and considerate.
If you want to be in my gang, play nice.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *