A love letter to Breton tops

'Some passing trends might have failed me, but you never did'

Some people collect stamps, others collect perfume bottles. I collect Breton tops, or I might as well given the sheer volume I own. Seriously, I’ve stopped counting.

I’ve got classic navy and white long sleeved tops (like the original sailor ones, if you know your Breton history), colourful slogan ones, short-sleeved versions for the summer, and even men’s styles, because why the hell not? You name it, I’ve got it.

Why the obsession? Well, we’d probably have to go back in time a bit. Much like Proust’s madeleines, there’s something about putting on a striped top that is so intrinsically linked to my childhood.

Growing up in France, I was wearing stripes before I even knew what stripes were. There are pictures of me as a baby in that classic striped bodysuit by Petit Bateau, as a toddler blowing out birthday candles at my grandparent’s country house, wearing a yellow striped sundress, and so on.

Throughout the decades, I went through a lot of various questionable style phases – yes, I too had the pink flame Buffalo trainers during my Skater Year, and the Chinese symbol top and tattoo necklace… But the one constant while I was trying to find my fashion self was the Breton top. Always.

Some passing trends might have failed me, but I always drew comfort in the fact that the Breton top never would.

If we’re going to look at the emotional side of things, I would go so far as to call it my sartorial comfort blanket. There have been times where just haven’t had the energy to put an outfit together. Bad breakups, short bouts of depression (and yes, bad colds too)… sometimes fashion has taken a back seat, despite my love of it.

And in those cases, there was only one thing I could throw on without even thinking about it, something that would make me feel chic, and lift my spirits just a little. No points for guessing it was a Breton top, usually paired with skinny jeans.

It was basically like my version of curling up in front of an episode of Friends, with a chocolate bar and a cup of tea. Though there’s nothing wrong with that either.

These days, stripes are just a part of my uniform. Though I still have some questionable fashion moments like everyone, I’ve got a better sense of what my style is, but that’s no reason to leave the Breton behind since it has never failed me. It just means mixing it up a bit depending on my mood.

Today, I’m wearing mine with mum jeans and mules, but tomorrow, I may well opt for a colourful slogan tee and a pleated skirt. Who knows?

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