How to Wear a Breton Navy-striped Top

by Anna Villaruel
(Seoul, South Korea)

April 30, 2012: A classic navy striped cotton top, also called "Breton Top" - is a closet essential for any fashionista (especially if your style is Classy or Sporty). Its design has become synonymous to chic Parisian style! It adds a whiff of non-chalant, nautical air that is sure to polish any ensemble.

Breton, navy-striped top inspired by French fisherman. Coco Chanel and Audrey Hepburn popularized this tops style
Source: Wikifashion

It was Coco Chanel who popularized this timeless, sporty top style during the war at her shop in Deauville in France. It is said that she took this print-inspiration from the French fishermen during a trip to the French Riviera. And it is now worn by some of today's top fashionistas such as Kate Moss, Olivia Palermo and Alexa Chung!
Fashion advice on how to select a Breton top

The huge plus with a Breton top is that the print and boatneck style of the top are timeless (gosh they’ve been around forever and won't ever go out of style!) and very versatile.

Breton, navy-striped top by Ralph lauren
Product info: "Tori" by Ralph Lauren

It can be worn in so many ways – and it adds an interesting pop of print texture to your outfit. You can “edge it up”, prettify it, trendify it, or how ever you wish to interpret it. It also serves as a great transitional piece - taking you from spring to summer, or summer to autumn.

You can also pair it against other prints and colors without looking too much. I dare you to try it with patterns such as floral, tribal, polkadots and leopard!

Here are a couple of more fashion tips:
  • Blue-and-white stripes are a classic, but so is black-with-white. Stripes in a neutral are your best choice because they go with anything.
  • Another tip for looking your best in a navy-striped top is to select a stripe-print scaled to your body scale. So if you’re petite, work with slim, narrow stripes; large stripes if you’re a plus size. Or if you're a petite plus size go for a medium-scale. Something in the middle? Then you'll be able to pull off most print sizes - but a medium-scale may be the best option for you.
  • If you're afraid of looking bigger in horizontal stripes - try narrow stripes. These create an illusion of a "ladder-effect" that encourages the eye to climb up the body (it has a slimming effect!), rather then to the sides. You can also prevent the stripes from widening your body frame by throwing on an unbuttoned jacket or cardigan to break up the print.

If you haven’t gotten a hold of these classic must-own tops yet and you wish to define your Classic or Sporty clothing personality – then this spring is the best time to make your purchase!

Now let me give you a couple of ideas on how to style a navy striped top:

Cool


Miranda Kerr does it perfectly by pairing the top with a black, edgy leather jacket, black ankle booties and slim khaki pants. Finish off the look by throwing on a pair of wayfarer sunglasses.

Cool and trendy Breton navy-striped top outfit - Miranda Kerr
Product info: Sunglasses - Shoes - Leather jacket - Tote bag - Cargo pants


Other “edgy” pieces that will make your outfit look super-cool are: Studded bags, leather skirt, colored jeans, baggy jeans, skinny jeans.

Image of Miranda Kerr - courtesy by Flynet

Flirty


A trick to prettify a classic garment is to combine it with a skirt a pair of heels. I just adore how Karla (KarlasCloset.com) does it by pairing her navy striped top with a sexy bright pink pencil skirt and nude high heel pumps. She upped the chicness with a neutral clutch, vintage tortoise shades and an interesting statement necklace.

Flirty and pretty Breton navy-striped top outfit - Karlas Closet
Product info: Sunglasses - Necklace - Skirt - Purse - Pumps

Other than this outfit example you might want to look into these flirty pairings: Floral skirt, floral skirt, peplum skirt, wedge sandals, glamorous oversized sunglasses

Image courtesy of Karlascloset.com

Classy


Kate Moss took the classy British style route by pairing her striped top with a dark navy blue blazer, skinny jeans and leather bags. But she still managed to chic it up with black ankle booties and cool sunglasses.

Classy and sophisticated Breton navy-striped top outfit - Kate Moss
Product info: Sunglasses - Tote bag - Blazer - Pumps - Jeans

Another suggestion to help polish this look even more: Add a pearl necklace and rather go for a structured tote handbag. A pair of pumps can also do magic!

Image via Fabsugar


How would you wear a navy-striped top?

Comments for How to Wear a Breton Navy-striped Top

Click here to add your own comments

Jan 29, 2013
Love yooo NEW
by: Analynn

I love how Both sporty and classic a Breton can be. In my case, I'd just throw it on with leather jacket and White jeans and a stud bag.

Nov 10, 2012
Love Bretons ! NEW
by: Anonymous

I like pearl studs or silver hoops with the Breton . I can't think of any way to go wrong with this style top. Variation with it is creative and interesting ! I love Bretons !

Aug 19, 2012
jewelry NEW
by: chicTeacher

I'm never sure what earrings or necklace to wear with my Breton-style top so I just don't. I think a thick bangle looks good though.

Thanks for your article. And, I don't think your writing style sounds condescending at all. You write very well!

Aug 15, 2012
Kindness NEW
by: Anonymous

Expat-Your comments are surely appreciated but you come off as condescending and superior.Taking pride in your clothing: Superb! Putting others down with your critical words: Not so much. Character and a pleasant personality add life and beauty to any outfit.

Jun 17, 2012
a sparkle of color NEW
by: kristina

I also wore the classic breton (with black and white stripes)with blue jeans,nude sandals and a coral bag and it was great!i loved this sparkle of color!

Jun 15, 2012
Another option.... NEW
by: Expat50

....is to pair a breton top with white jeans and navy ballet flats. That's how I dressed when I got up at 5.30 (I wanted toi go to the local boulangerie for some still-warm croissants. Mmm...).

It's now evening here in France, and I've since been shopping, and had a hair appointment (well-kempt glossy hair is a French MUST), and I'm still wearing the same outfit. Very simple, paired with a super leather navy Longchamp shoulder bag, some simple pearl stud earrings, small yellow and white-gold jewellery, and, the real Parisian secret: glossy scarlet lipstick, mascara and a soupçon of perfume. Incredibly simple and uncontrived, and a total of 15 minutes to shower, dress, slick on a TOUCH of make-up and out to get my croissants. Now, honestly, is there ANY excuse for being seen in the supermarket in a sweatsuit and trainers??? I think not. With a few wardrobe basics, like a breton top, and a dose of panache, it is just as quick to look polished, and shows more respect for oneself and others. (BTW, my personal style is classic.)

Jun 04, 2012
navy striped top NEW
by: Anonymous

also looks great with red/pink jeans, boat shoes and classic jewelry

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