Monday, 4 September 2017

Pass The Garlic, S'il Vous Plait!

This year marks the centenary of Coco Chanel's iconic 'Nautical Collection' - in which she first introduced the Breton Top as a fashion item. I love these garments, in fact I have four of them -so I thought I would find out some more about them. The designer was apparently at the seaside watching the sailors [!] and became fascinated by their tops.
 These were introduced in 1858, when an Act of Parliament declared this top to be part the official French Navy uniform. Allegedly the stripey design made men more visible in the waves if they fell overboard- and there were 21 stripes to represent Napoleon's victories at sea.

Coco put this top at the centre of that year's collection. It has been in style ever since. 
Film stars and others - male and female - have adopted the look. Here's Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, and the Duchess of Cambridge sporting variations on a theme.

In France, these garments are often called chandails - a corruption of merchand d'ail [garlic seller] because these were popular among the garlic traders at Les Halles, the fresh food market in central Paris.
My four tops have stripes in different widths. None has the correct 21 stripes- I've counted!
Steph remarked earlier in the year that perhaps I have enough of them now [all bought from CS or sales, I said, attempting to justify myself]
But it was Bob who put the final nail in the chandail coffin. We were out in Norwich and he said "I like it when you wear that red striped shirt. It's easier for me to spot you in the crowd - I just play a game of 'Where's Wally?' !"
However, someone else in the family clearly likes stripes too...


  1. I have three striped tops too, and love wearing them.
    Baby stripes! How sweet she looks.

  2. I've got two, both short sleeved and I'm on the look out for some winter ones. I love teaming them with a scarf.

  3. Beautiful chandailles! Did you see the film Coco Avant Chanel? It is beautiful too.

    1. No I have missed that one- hope it is on TV sometime

  4. Naughty Bob!!! Breton stripes are such a classic! And now I know why!!! Thank you!x

  5. I love reading your posts because you always find such interesting and informative things to write about! That picture of you and little Rosie in your striped tops is so cute!


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