How to Style a Breton Striped Shirt

Breton Stripe Outfit by Mia Lupo shot by Kristina Staal Photography

Originally published April 2019

Rethinking an American Interpretation of the French striped shirt

The History of the Breton Striped Shirt

We all know that the French love their striped shirts—but why is that the case?

The Breton stripe is affiliated with the French Navy’s uniform:

A Breton stripe has come to be known as a sailor shirt, named after Breton (the Brittany coast) in France. The Breton shirt began as a wool knit pullover with a wide neck. Technically, a Breton stripe shirt has alternating blue and white stripes, with the white stripes (twenty-one of them) being twice as wide as the blue stripes.

If this sounds a little strict for an unassuming design, that’s because it was the official uniform of the French navy for 150 years. At first, only high-ranking officers wore Breton stripes, but eventually the Breton stripe was extended to all naval seamen.

Breton stripes: a history
Boyfriend Jeans and Breton stripe outfit by Mia Lupo, shot by Kristina Staal Photography

Behind the Scenes

I worked with Kristina Staal Photography for this Breton-inspired mini-shoot in Rowayton, Connecticut. I haven’t been to Rhode Island since January, so I was so happy that Kristina had recommended meeting in this part of Fairfield County.

It had also been a while since I’d had a personal branding photoshoot—my hair is no longer blonde!

Despite the fog, the weather couldn’t have been perfect for how I wanted the photos to turn out. It reminded me a lot of coastal Rhode Island, as well as my recent trip to Brittany, France earlier this spring.

The reason why I chose this outfit was to blend my love for all things coastal New England and French.

I’m not going to lie—if you’re actually in France, the outfit in this blog post isn’t something that I would recommend wearing outside of the Brittany region. Why? Because it reads “I’m a tourist in France” and that’s glaringly obvious to French people, especially pickpockets on the Paris metro…

However, this French-inspired outfit is perfect for lazy Sundays in New England. It’s a comfortable and infinitely more chic alternative to baggy sweatpants and an oversized fleece pullover.

Bell Island in Rowayton, Connecticut shot by Kristina Staal Photography
Breton Stripe and Boyfriend Jeans outfit

Outfit Details

Armor lux Breton-striped shirt (made with Fairtrade cotton)

Everlane Boyfriend Jeans (similar style)

BOCAGE INNOVATION black leather loafers

BCBG Max Azria silk scarf

Longchamp Le Pliage large tote bag

Armorluxe striped shirt and Everlane boyfriend jeans outfit
Rowayton Connecticut shot by Kristina Staal Photography
French inspired outfit styled by Mia Lupo, shot by Kristina Staal Photography

More French Style Inspiration

A Breton striped shirt, a red scarf, black ballerina flats, and skinny, khaki pants—that’s the typical outfit that Americans may think of when they think of what French women wear.

In reality, French women—Parisiennes in particular—are much more creative with their personal style.

They love accessorizing with colorful accents.

They do prefer basics, normally impeccably tailored.

If they wear one color, they like to combine different textures to elevate an otherwise “flat” looking outfit.

And they never compromise on the quality of footwear, even if they’re only basic white sneakers.

Here are a few places to start getting inspired by cool, French girl style:

50+ French-inspired Female Fashion Editors, Models, and Influencers to Follow on Instagram

How to Look Like a French Girl

10 Timeless Items French Women Have in Their Spring Wardrobes

Spring photography by Kristina Staal Photography
Francophile inspired outfit styled by Mia Lupo, shot by Kristina Staal Photography
Francophile inspired outfit styled by Mia Lupo, shot by Kristina Staal Photography

A special thanks to Kristina Staal Photography for these amazing photos! The proceeds of this mini-shoot went to Kristina and her husband’s adoption fundraiser.

How to style a Breton striped shirt

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A Francophile based in coastal New England

2 thoughts on “How to Style a Breton Striped Shirt

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