Sea-ing Stripes

By Emily Grantnautical2

The classic Breton striped shirt, a wardrobe staple across the style spectrum.  It started in Brittany, a province found on the peninsula between the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, which produced many a French sailor (Who What Wear, 2009).  The navy blue and white striped shirt was designed to make sailors stand out from the waves if they were to fall overboard (Gout Taste, 2013).  The original boat-neck shirt had three-quarter length sleeves with 21 navy blue stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories (Gout Taste, 2013). 

Soon, the knit top caught on with the locals of Brittany, and soon after that, Coco Chanel (Gout Taste, 2013).  In a 1917 nautical inspired line, it was featured with flared trousers, which stood in stark contrast to the corseted dresses of the era (Gout Taste, 2013).  In the 1950s, the look graced the silver screen several times over, seen on starlets nautical3such as Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg, and even heartthrob James Dean (Gout Taste, 2013).  Since then, the Breton striped shirt has remained an iconic piece that is always in style.  It’s been reimagined time after time, from glittering sequins at Balmain to Prada’s primary colored version, and of course, John Paul Gaultier (In The Seams, 2011). 

The possibilities for the Breton tee are endless, as it can be dressed up or down, and is appropriate in any season.  Olivia Palermo paired hers with an a-line skirt and statement necklace, while Alexa Chung has been spotted in a Breton stripe shirt layered under overalls, for an ultra-casual look (Who What Wear, 2009).  Whether your style is preppy or bohemian, a Breton shirt is an absolute must have, and there’s really no excuse, as they can be found at virtually any price-point.   nautical1 Alexander Wang has one for the low, low price of $270 while for just $11 you can score one at Forever 21.  This fall, pair yours with a toothpick jean topped with a motorcycle jacket for an on-trend look that can’t be denied.  For our more conservative readers, a toggle coat can be substituted, a la J.Crew.  No matter how you wear it, you’re guaranteed to have that certain je ne sais quoi that French sailors have been rocking for generations (Tishgart, 2010).

Work Cited

Gout Taste (2013).  How the French got their stripes.  Retrieved from http://goutaste.com/how-the-french-got-their-stripes/

 In The Seams (2011, July 1).  The classic Breton stripe, a must for summer.  Retrieved from http://intheseams.com/2011/07/the-classic-breton-stripe-a-must-for-summer/

 P Burns. (2012, February 6). Winehouse couture. Retrieved from http://stylewhisperer.wordpress.com/tag/breton-top/

 Tishgart, S. (2010). Gotta have it: Breton striped shirts. Teen Vogue. Retrieved from http://www.teenvogue.com/fashion/summer-trends/2010-07/breton-striped-shirts/?slide=1

 Who What Wear (2009).  Breton stripes.  Retrieved from http://www.whowhatwear.com/look-we-love-breton-stripes/

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A Penny Loafer for Your Thoughts

By Whitney Hall    

            Dads and frat guys love it; it has the ability to add comfort to any social situation; and it can make anyone look better. It’s not beer. It’s a loafer.

              In 1936, G.H. Bass released the Weejun—loafera loafer that entered the heart of every man who had ever hoped his wife would deem a slip-on shoe acceptable to wear outside of the home. Demand for this men’s footwear paradise soared, but the company soon noticed that women were purchasing the shoes to wear themselves, so two years later, Bass released a women’s Weejun (MacDonell, 2012). Though the name itself sounds like a last-minute idea by a Bass employee, it is actually a spin off of “Norwegian” since the make of the shoe was first spotted on Norwegian fishermen by young male American travelers (MacDonell, 2012). What started as a staple for the Norwegian fishermen’s uniforms grew to become a staple for college life (MacDonell, 2012). Originally worn with socks, men on college campuses through the early 60s were seen wearing them without socks as if they had woken up late, threw on some clothes, and slid on their Weejuns.

             loafer3  Its nickname, “penny loafer,” is rooted in the rumor that women would place a penny or dime in the cutout on the instep of the shoe in case she found herself out with a less-than-desirable date (MacDonell, 2012). Ladies, I think we should all take a moment and thank God for cell phones.

              The first major company to slip into the loafer trend after Bass was Gucci in 1953 (MacDonell, 2012). Noticing that the Weejuns were popular on college campuses but did not transition well into the workplace, Gucci released a loafer in black with cleaner and more elegant lines (MacDonell, 2012). The men’s loafer was now appropriate to wear with suits on Wall Street or to the office.

            loafer4Though the shoe’s popularity waned after the 60s, it never disappeared from fashion, making it a classic trend (MacDonell, 2012). Since Bass and Gucci, just about every company who sells shoes has carried loafers. The company who has most famously advertised their own brand of loafer is Tod’s (MacDonell, 2012). Who could forget their famous ads where they simply portrayed a picture of Audrey Hepburn or JFK above a single signature loafer?

            For the laid back “Ivy League look,” guys should simply throw on a button up shirt and blazer with a pair of chinos and brown loafers. For those men who either have a bank account to support celebrity style or at least want to fake that they do, try a slim-fit gray suit, white shirt, no tie, and a pair of black Gucci’s. Ladies, too, can reach Ivy League status with chino crops; a crisp, white shirt; and their brown penny loafers. For a preppier and elevated socioeconomic twist, trade the classic brown for a colorful pair of Tod’s. To channel your beatnik style, think of Audrey Hepburn in funny face and wear skinny black pants, black boatneck t-shirt, and black loafers. Any way you spin it, loafers are an instant way to add a touch of class to your outfit.

loafer2 

Resources

MacDonell, N. (2013, November 23). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/loafing-around-a-brief-history-of-fashions-favorite-flat/?_r=0