There are a few French basics that never go out of style: Repettos, K. Jacques, ballet flats, slim black capri pants, Bensimon's, Gitanes, and the perfect striped t-shirt - "la marinière." It always looks just right, and you can never have too many.
Unconvinced? See: Coco Chanel, Jean Seberg, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Edie Sedgwick, and just about every other iconically chic woman in the world. It's an adorable culmination of all things clean, classic, striped, nautical and timeless.
I love this look, skirted for Spring, with tailored shorts for Summer, layered with a crisp blazer and jeans for Fall, and hiding under scarves, wool trousers, and warm trench coats for Winter.
Here's what I know about the French favorite... "marinière", or the Breton shirt.
The long-sleeved striped cotton garment (traditionally, the stripes begin around the breastbone and it has a boat neck). You know the one, you should probably have 2 or 3 — justifiably, as all are different (to the keen eye, at least).
The Breton striped shirt originated in Brittany— a French province that occupies the peninsula between the English Channel and Bay of Biscay. It's the traditional garment of choice among French fishermen— which may explain its nautical affiliation. And incidentally, the shirt bears a striking resemblance to the Brittany flag.
2010's infatuation with Military fashion was saturated by ARMY and Air Force styling, meaning naval-influenced pieces went largely overlooked. As the military trend winds down for spring 2011, and we turn to new influences - the nautical may be overlooked entirely. But I don't despair. In fact, I tend not to think of the marinière as a strictly nautical or military trend. I prefer, rather, to see its timelessness. Its long-lived contribution to fashion and its perfect palette of simplicity, comfort, fun, and easy elegance.