Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
French people call it simply la marinière as a reference to its nautical origins and in the Anglophone world it is known as a Breton shirt after the sweaters fishermen in Brittany sported at the beginning of the 19th century, but whichever name you prefer this iconic navy-and-blue striped top has become a symbol of laid-back maritime style.
In 1858, a decree listed the Breton shirt as an official part of the uniform of the French Navy. The document even described in great detail how many stripes the shirt should have: “21 white stripes each 20mm wide and 20 or 21 blue 10mm-wide stripes” while the sleeves should sport “15 white and 14 or 15 blue stripes.”
But it wasn’t until 1918 when Coco Chanel opened her boutique in the upscale coastal town of Deauville and she herself started wearing a version of the striped shirt that people saw la marinière in a different light. Up until then, the Breton shirt was considered as a working man’s piece of clothing but after Chanel’s endorsement, it suddenly became a closet staple for France’s bourgeoisie as well.
Here, we rounded up the chicest versions of the classic Breton shirt that every gentleman should have in his spring wardrobe.
Brunello Cucinelli Striped Long-Sleeved Cotton T-shirt
Brunello Cucinelli’s take on the classic Breton shirt is crafted from lightweight cotton and sports a relaxed silhouette perfect to wear on a breezy weekend with a pair of jeans or knee-length shorts and loafers. The signature design is updated with a single red stripe for a pop of color.
To buy: $995, matchesfashion.com
Balmain Breton Stripe Logo Sweater
Balmain’s stylish cotton Breton sweater may don a classic crew-neck design but what makes it stand out are the details. It has three silver-tone buttons on the left shoulder adding to its cool vibe and the brand’s B logo overlaps with the navy stripes on the front for an eye-catching look.
To buy: $520, brownsfashion.com
John Smedley Striped Sea Island Cotton Polo Shirt
This classic polo shirt, made in England, is spun from the rarest cotton type in the world—Sea Island cotton—known for its strength, silky look, and softness. John Smedley has reversed the classic Breton design and has opted for white stripes over a navy background.
To buy: $270, mrporter.com
Comme Des Garçons Play Slim Fit Stripe T-Shirt
Comme Des Garçons’s bright red heart logo adds a bit of playfulness to this classic striped slim fit shirt. It’s made in Japan from super soft cotton that will make it your favorite shirt to wear this spring. Style it with a pair of indigo-hued jeans and white sneakers.
To buy: $156, nordstrom.com
Thom Browne Striped Cotton-Seersucker Shirt
When temperatures soar this Thom Browne short-sleeve shirt will keep you looking and feeling cool. It’s made from lightweight cotton seersucker and sports a light-blue and white striped design in opposite directions.
To buy: $490, mrporter.com
Saint-James Tri-Color Striped Shirt
From the French company that invented the striped fisherman sweater in the 18th century comes this modern take on the Breton shirt that sports a tri-color striped design. It has a slightly fitted silhouette and a crew neck that looks flattering on both men and women. Naturally, just like the original Breton sweater, it is made in the village of Saint-James in Normandy.
To buy: $89, saint-james.com