I reckon there has to be a French Klaxon that sounds when you become the owner of a certain number of stripe tops. Especially when there is more than a hint of Breton about them. You know the difference. There is one. It's subtle, but it's significant. Some scream Francophile. Others are more Cbeebies presenter.
It's the shape, it's the colours of the stripes, it's the *sort* of stripe, it's a fact. It also depends what you team it with, I will give you that.
And I don't actually truly claim to know which is which as I'm not French and I am convinced this is something they are taught - my money is on via a French Jedi at nursery. The thought has occurred to me on more than one occasion (plus how to eat croissants without getting fat). There is something about French women... they seem to ooze easy elegance. I swear they are taught by osmosis from the minute they're born (or it's definitely that French Jedi option).
But we can steal their style. Blatant copying is what we need to do to emulate their breezy, chic and effortless style.
Stripe top to start with. They go with everything. And seeing as the sun was out yesterday and I came over all Easter, these are the perfect Spring addition to your wardrobe. I swear there was more than a hint of bluebells, daffodils and lambs (the gambolling kind, not the Sunday roast version - not yet anyway) in the air.
Starting with a classic from good old Boden who do these so well. Also an offer on if you buy more than one, if you buy three I think they work out at £22 each? And there is a plethora of choice when it comes to colours.
How do I wear mine? With everything. Leather skirts, jeans of the smart and scraggy variety, dungarees, with harems and a biker, with wide legs be them cropped or full length. There are honestly very few outfits these tops can't improve. Footwear - again, the world is your oyster. Sneakers, ballet flats, ankle boots, wedges, sandals, OTK boots, court stiletto - I could go on and on (sort of running out of shoes mind)
Long Sleeve Breton £26.50 from Boden in navy
And in Charcoal
Another classic from Jack Wills at £34.50 Now the reason this one works for me more than the ones above is that the stripes are equal. "Huh?" I hear you cry. The above Bretons (and lots) have one stripe wider than the other. Whereas, if you've ever wondered why some appeal more than others, I reckon it may well have something to do with this symmetry which I find so much more appealing (I am weird, it has been said once or a fair few times).
Black and white, again equal stripes from the classic breton brand Petit Bateau. Surely, if in doubt, just buy French?
Mariniere striped cotton jersey top in black and white was £60 now £36
And the classic midnight blue and off white at a not often seen price for PB Bretons. Go forth and stock up.
Mariniere striped cotton sweater was £60 now £34
But the bargain of the season has to from Uniqlo.
These are a lovely thick cotton with the perfect boxy Breton shape and boatneck.
Striped Boat Neck from Uniqlo £12.90 in navy.
In red. This looks great with greys or blacks and I also love with khaki.
A more boxy style at Me+Em. I love this shape over skinnies. Incredibly forgiving and ideal to layer a shirt under.
Stripe Box Tee from Me+Em in black and cream £48
The other option is something more fitted. Now they call this a layering top but I think if you size up one then it's ideal for wearing on its own. I love the longer proportions of this - tis perfect for under dungarees (I know I know I said I wasn't going to be wearing them and it's almost sacrilegious mentioning them in a post where I'm attempting to be all things French and chic. But I'd forgotten how comfy they are... I mean properly properly "who cares if I've drunk my body weight in champagne and have a booze belly" comfy).
I'm going to the Me+Em shop on Wednesday so shall be doing a trying on session so can report back on sizes. Check out the equal stripes again - just so so much more appealing, no? Just me?
Stripe Layering tee from Me+Em £48
Moving slightly left of centre with an un-Breton edge now but these are still very much under the Classic heading. Love the hemline of these. For me, the most flattering shape to wear over a pair of skinnies. I adore both shades of these but it would be the red and navy (it is a very dark navy and not a black, I'm sure) that just pips the other one to the post.
Urban Outfitters Textured Breton Striped Top £22
Also there's a navy and yellow version.
And then I'm going very off piste. I'm still thinking French. So we're still a neat stripe but with a mere hint of Breton. Basically we just mean a stripe. So it's not really that French at all. But they're really really cool. And neat. I'm feeling the need for neat.
Ashbrook High Neck Jumper in Block Stripe from Finery £49
Another option at Finery is a camel and black. Classic colours in a classic shape with a twist on the stripe.
Haycroft Clean Stripe Ribknit Jumper £45
More jumpers at APC and hush. I love both of these. Easily wearable now layered with a shirt (either white or how about a denim one?) and a coat. Perfect for Spring for under a blazer or biker jacket. Just add a huge scarf until we reach double figures regularly.
Breton striped silk knit jumper from APC £155 And it's black.. oh ALL the love for this one. Black pleather culottes or leather peg leg trousers. Be still my beating little Francophile heart.
And my favourite jumper (which means it's not really a breton in the slightest) that I have from hush. I have the black and white striped boat neck and can't recommend it highly enough. It is quite sheer (you do need a vest under it unless you're into your flashing your bra. Who am I to judge?) but the upside of this is that it's thin enough to wear under a blazer. I will admit, it's slightly less "neat" - I think slightly more boho in its knit..
hush Striped Boat Neck Jumper in black and white £65
And this season they've bought out a new version in the midnight and ecru. £65
And just like that, we're not so French. I know that lots of you will think a plain Breton is slightly dull. I will admit that I love teaming a stripe with a leopard print so this, I couldn't resist chucking in as they've done it for you.
Boden Print Breton £34.50
So I am super sold on these. Cracked one out today - a ridiculously old H&M one which is now the most random shape ever (not intentionally) but works for layering under my dungarees. Yes, the dungers are out again, as I mentioned. I didn't think I'd be wearing them again this season. I lied. I LOVE them with the Jemima Vine shoes. Really think the classic shoe makes the dungarees look much more "grown up" (if such a thing can ever be..)
And will this be the season that I finally fall in love with my trench coat? Really feeling the love for it with this outfit.
Black dungarees - H&M
Navy and white striped top - H&M
Trench coat - Banana Republic
Black Edie shoes - Jemima Vine
Triple disc necklace - Anna Lou of London
And of course, the outfit from Saturday night. Well, in the end I went with the Preen Line dress which was a complete bargain from Luxe Layers (considering it's still over double the price at Matches!)
So we have finally cleared up after the party on Saturday night which was (she says not exactly modestly) a great success. Well I had a really fab time and hopefully everyone else did too.
Been all a bit bizarre since then as our poor poor puppy has had to go into the vets for an operation to remove a foreign body from her intestine. Which was... a stone. A rather big stone that she's decided to eat. (I will admit I was more than rather relieved that it wasn't half a McDonald's toy as I'm sure I would have been sorely reprimanded for giving her plastic Mario to play with - she also has a Hello Kitty and about ten Minions - as opposed to buying proper dog toys. Ashamed for being relieved). She hadn't been herself for a couple of days but they've worked out what it was and she's hopefully on the mend and will be home tomorrow night.
In the meantime I am going to be distracting myself with scraping the barrels of the sales. You can hear me having a good old dig from where you are, I'm sure.
Ah now one thing I did want to ask - if you have an amazing local boutique that you think we should know about, please do let me know. One of the things I want to do this year is start championing those local gems - lots of which are also online so we all benefit. Would love to hear if you have any near you that you want everyone to know about. Most sell really unique brands and are often much more cost effective than the big online designer boutiques. Would love to know your local favourites if you have any. Thanking you kindly!