The best Breton tops quickly become the hardest working pieces of clothing in any wardrobe. Whether you favourite a traditional look or are after something a little more outside of the box(y fit), here’s what you need to know.
The history of breton tops
Breton tops were first worn as the uniform for the French navy, favoured for their comfortable fit and practicality, as the stripes made the wearer easy to spot in the sea during an emergency. The design featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victories, and followed a set pattern – white for 2cm and then blue for 1cm.
So far, so fashion-free – but when Coco Chanel introduced the striped pattern to a nautical inspired collection in 1917, after visiting France, the style set quickly got wise.
As the years passed, they remained popular thanks to stars like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn sporting them off-set – and today, they’re still one of the most versatile basics on the rails, with everyone from the Duchess of Cambridge to Alexa Chung incorporating them into their looks.
How to wear a breton top
It sounds unhelpful to say ‘you can’t go wrong’, but honestly, it would be difficult to. Whether you team them with denim, smarten up with wide-leg trousers or tuck into a slinky skirt or under a slip dress, Bretons are effortlessly stylish in almost every situation. Oh, and don’t be afraid of clashing prints.
The original Bretons featured set stripes and shades, but now, the options are endless, in terms of fit, length and colour.
So, ready to shop?
15 of the best Breton tops
A slouchy fit and cuff and long sleeve make this the best weekend throw-on.
It’s a classic for a reason – and it’s under £30.
We love the contrasting collar on this high street bargain.
Saint James’ stripy tops are iconic, and come with a unisex fit.
Organic cotton with a colour twist and relaxed fit.
French navy + soft white = very Parisian chic.
Timeless black and white will never go out of style.
Effortless oversized Scandi cool.
For those who like their stripes with a touch of whimsy.
You’ll never regret a Breton tee – especially at this price.
Show off your shoulders with a slim fit and boat neck.
Puff sleeves and a gem button back add interest to a stripy style.
Weighty cotton for an easy, breezy everyday favourite.
A finer fabric take which also comes in turquoise.
A slash-necked beauty to treasure for years to come.