9 Breton tops you’ll wear forever that put us in mind of a certain Duchess

Everyone should own this style staple!
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  • Striped tops never go out of style. Why? Simply because they are so easy to wear! The timeless appeal of breton tops will make you reach into the wardrobe for it time and again, season after season.

    Part of its charm is that it looks good with everything, and on everyone. If you think of some of the most stylish women in recent history, many of them notably wore breton tops.  Audrey Hepburn, Bridget Bardot, Alexa Chung and the Duchess of Cambridge are just a few that spring to mind. Together they’ve convinced us that the humble stripe endures and is still worth investing in. So our fashion team have picked out their fave striped tops in the stores right now…

    But first, let’s get a bit geeky.

    Breton tops Vs striped tops – what’s the difference?

    Breton has become shorthand for most striped tops these days, but there is technically a difference. According to fashion legend, a true breton top has 21 stripes of even width. Traditionally the stripes on a breton top would be navy blue on white.

    The history of the Breton

    Saint James was the original manufacturer of the iconic Breton stripe sweater in Normandy, France. Based in Saint-James, the city that gave the brand its name, the brand has specialised in premium cotton and wool based collections since 1850.

    In 1858 their Breton top was made official Navy uniform in France. There were two reasons for this. Originally bretons were woven so tightly that they were waterproof. And the striped design meant that any person washed overboard was easier to spot and rescue.

    Until the beginning of the 20th century, the Breton was considered strictly work wear. However, Coco Chanel helped the item become an off-duty fashion statement, when her 1917 collection drew inspiration from the nautical stripes. She was the first designer to design striped pieces in jersey, not wool, and to market the French staple expressly as leisurewear. In 1936 French leisure time became official with the introduction of paid holidays, which is also reported to have helped the breton top become a casual wardrobe staple.

    9 Breton tops to buy now and wear forever

    MAREE 11 jumper by Saint James, £139

    The slim fit MAREE 11 R striped jumper with shoulder button fastening is the best seller at Saint James, and its easy to see why. Available in 4 colour ways, the classic cream and navy will always be our favourite!

    SHOP IT NOW: £139, available in sizes xs-xxl, Saint James

    Striped tunic jumper by M&S, £25

    A wider stipe and longer tunic style length, this long sleeved tee is made from sustainably sourced cotton.

    SHOP IT NOW: £25, available in sizes 6-24, M&S

    Organic cotton striped t-shirt by Seasalt, £29.95

    Boasting 5* customer reviews and made from 100% organic cotton, this 3/4 length sleeve top is available in 7 different colour ways and is included in Seasalts 2 for £40 deal.

    SHOP IT NOW: £29.95, available in sizes 6-28, Seasalt

    V-neck striped t-shirt by Joules, £24.95

    The Harbour long sleeve jersey top is Joules best-seller and the iconic stripes have become synonymous with the brand. Every season they bring it back with a slightly new spin on the classic Breton. We love this v-neck version.

    SHOP IT NOW: £24.95, available in size 6-20, Joules

    Duck egg blue striped top by Petit Bateau, £69

    Switch up your stripes for this soft duck egg blue shade.

    SHOP IT NOW: £69, available in sizes xxs-l, Petit Bateau

    Red and white striped top by White Stuff, £29.95

    This relaxed fit long sleeved tee is made with fairtrade sourced cotton.

    SHOP IT NOW: £29.95, available in sizes 6-22, White Stuff

    Black and red striped sweater by La Ligne, £120

    This whole brand pride themselves on being the go-to destination for striped essentials.

    SHOP IT NOW: £120, available in sizes xs-xl, La Ligne

    Rainbow cuff striped top by Boden, £28

    If you are looking for a classic Breton with a with a twist then Boden have got you covered. The rainbow coloured cuffs will earn you extra style points.

    SHOP IT NOW: £28, available in sizes 6-22, Boden

    Floral striped t-shirt by Joules, £24.95

    Joules eye catching prints are perfect for when you want to stand out from the crowd.

    SHOP IT NOW: £24.95, available in sizes 6-26, Joules

    Which is your favourite? Do you prefer a modern stripe or a more classic breton?

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