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The History of Nautical Stripes

Nautical stripes on shirts have been a fashion staple for centuries. Nautical striped shirts were originally called Breton striped shirts (they were also sometimes referred to as sailor stripes or marinière). Breton striped shirts were first created in 1858 as part of the Act of France, which made the navy-and-white striped knit part of the official uniform for French Navy seamen in Brittany. The original design featured 21 stripes signifying each of Napoleon’s victories. Coco Chanel later visited the French coast and was inspired by the naval uniform. She added nautical stripes to her designs, which is how the Breton stripe made its way into fashion. Celebrities (particularly Marilyn Monroe, Pablo Picasso, Brigitte Bardot, and Jean-Paul Gaultier) helped to popularize nautical striped shirts. Later, James Dean, Cary Grant, and Audrey Hepburn appeared onscreen in the style, furthering the appeal. Nautical stripes were particularly popular in the 1960s after Edie Sedgwick appeared in Andy Warhol’s film Kitchen wearing a striped top and black tights. Today, nautical stripes are considered a fashion classic and are often associated with preppy style.

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