Breton Stripes for Less


From black and white stripes yesterday…to black and white stripes today! It’s clear that I’m a little tiny bit obsessed with stripes…I mean…they did attend my wedding after all (see that post here).

So naturally, I’m about to give you a quick history on the breton stripe style that is beyond wearable (and popular)!

The breton stripe shirt actually came into the world as part of the 1858 Act of France, which required that all French Navy seamen wore the navy and white stripe knit shirt as part of their uniform. The general thought was that the shirt would make it easier to spot men in the water who may have fallen overboard. The shirt was originally known as marinière or matelot. The original design of the shirt featured 21 stripes exactly, which highlighted Napoleon’s 21 victories.

Saint James was the first company to manufacture the shirts, and the company still makes them today! The design continued to grow in popularity and was able to migrate the waters (pun intended) from uniform to fashion icon status. Coco Chanel even included the breton stripe in her nautical collection in 1917, which was a huge change up from the “classic fashion” of that era (people were probably wondering, casual knitwear, what is this?).

The style has continued its reign on the fashion scene and has remained popular with everyday folks to celebrities (including my favorite, Kate Middleton, here in breton stripes).

I can’t imagine a closet with one (or 10!) stripe shirts! I’ve expressed my love in the past for the Merona boatneck stripe tee and continue to recommend it to EVERYONE who will listen to me rave about it. So pick one up next time you’re in Target for groceries…you won’t regret it and then you, me, and Kate can coordinate! ;)


  • On Target item: Merona Stripe Boatneck Tee (exact)
  • Shirt: Loft (similar)
  • Nail Polish: “Redgy” (exact)
  • Necklace: c/o Rocksbox (get your own subscription here, and use code “styleontargetxoxo” for one month free!)
  • Purse: Merona, Target (similar options)
  • Pants: Loft (exact)
  • Heels: Merona, Target (exact)

  • Kaci

    I love this shirt! I picked it up a couple of months ago on sale, and I’m in love.

  • Dabney Smith

    I’m an avid fan of Kate and repliKate a bit every single day, which means that I’ve got quite the Breton top collection!! I’m not gonna lie… I own 9 (!!!!!) Breton tops! the ones from Target, and ME+EM (brand Kate favors) are my favorites!!!! You can dress them up or down, and they go with everything!!! Love love love them!!

  • Sarah H.

    I have that shirt! And that necklace! We’re so cool.

    ~Sarah of Sarah’s Real Life

  • Rebecca

    Super interesting! I’ll have to wear this shirt armed with my new knowledge. And a button down underneath, because that’s adorable.

  • I actually just bought that exact shirt and then returned it because I didn’t think I’d wear it. But then when I couldn’t sleep last night I came up with a whole lot of potential outfits. So maybe I’ll watch for a sale and but again. Although I’m also hoping they get more colors soon! (If really like a white and navy one!)

  • legallyheidi

    this is an adorable outfit!! Love it!

  • If it weren’t for stripes, I would have nothing to wear! I LOVE ’em! I think I have a striped tee in almost every color of the rainbow. Love this outfit :)

  • Shirt twinsies! Also, my parents went to France in the spring and brought home a real Breton stripe shirt for my little man. What about me, mom?!?

  • Florentina Scusi

    Very nice simple look!