Inspiration: the Breton shirt/marinière

At work, I’ve been layering like mad because of the manic weather. I do not joke when I say we have micro-climates throughout the building, not to mention the wonky weather outdoors. What this means is I am constantly challenged to wear the right amount of clothing that I can shed throughout the day to adapt to whatever the day throws at me.

Enter the marinière, or Breton shirt. Also known as the sailor shirt, it is popular and versatile, and can be dressed up or down as needed. Traditional Breton shirts are cut on the boxy side and are made of heavy, somewhat stiff cotton. There are also versions with even more nautical allusions such as gold or brass buttons at the sleeves or shoulder. I prefer mine button-less, with close-set stripes, and a more figure-friendly cut than the boxy original version.

Here are a few looks I’d like to try with my own Breton shirt in the future: (the looks are layer-friendly too!)

Under a brown coat or blazer, with the wrists showing:

Source: The Sartorialist
Source: The Sartorialist

Monochrome fall look with a gray parka and black Converse:

Source: Area 51 Store

With an olive jacket:


Plain and simple on black pants:

Source: Totokaelo
Source: Totokaelo

Under a trenchcoat and layered for fall:

Source: Nich Hance McElroy

With a black scarf and loafers:

Source: Paula Cahen Danvers Lookbook FW10 via JuanaNoMuerdas

All black with white canvas shoes:

Source: blogger Komi87
Source: blogger Komi87

Peeking out of a layered short-sleeved sweater:

Source: Happily Grey
Source: Happily Grey

Tweed + stripes:

Source: The Sartorialist
Source: The Sartorialist

Chambray and a breton:

Source: Blushing Ambition(left) and Sidewalk Ready (right)
Source: Blushing Ambition (left) and Sidewalk Ready (right)

6 thoughts on “Inspiration: the Breton shirt/marinière

  1. there are so many good ways to wear a breton – you know i still have not found the perfect one yet. i think i’d like the classic gaultier vibe but the right amount of stripes is ridiculously hard to find (or too expensive!)

    either way good luck with the layering 🙂

    steph /

    1. Gaultier vibe? Please elaborate; I want to see 🙂

      The amount of stripes is key. Too thick and it looks blocky/awkward, too narrow and you lose the nod to its nautical past.

      Tell me about it. Comme Des Garcons and Saint James shirts are unfortunately out of my range (unless Santa somehow magically hears my wish) so it’s time to get creative and hunt for something realistically attainable!

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