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From Coco Chanel to Alexa Chung: A Brief History of the Iconic Breton Stripe

From Coco Chanel to Alexa Chung: A Brief History of the Iconic Breton Stripe

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From Coco Chanel to Alexa Chung: A Brief History of the Iconic Breton Stripe
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If there’s one piece that most of us probably have in our closets, it’s the classic Breton striped shirt.

Typically characterized as a cotton top with blue sailor-like stripes, the style was introduced in 1858 as the uniform for the French navy, possess any serous fashion cache until—after a trip to the French coast—Coco Chanel took notice. The iconic designer was so inspired by the sailors’ uniform that she incorporated the stripes into her 1917 nautical collection. The casual design helped break away from the heavily corseted fashion of the time, forever changing the face of casual womenswear.

As far as basics go, the Breton striped shirt is as necessary as a black blazer or a pair of dark-wash skinny jeans, and like those staples, the allure of the breton stripe shirt lies in its versatility. Whether worn by struggling artists, movie stars,  or modern-day It-girls, the styling choices have evolved over time, but its effect has astonishingly remained the same.

Here, we take a look at how the Breton striped shirt has been worn by such varied personalities as James Dean and Pablo Picasso to Coco Chanel, Kate Moss, Alexa Chung, and today’s street-style stars.

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