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The sailor top, from sailor to dressing room

The sailor top, from sailor to dressing room

A look back at this timeless fashion piece

Typically French, the sailor top is the key piece of a chic feminine wardrobe. Often reinterpreted, the little cotton top with 21 stripes has found a cozy place in the iconography of Parisian fashion.

Brought up to date by Queen Victoria, Gabrielle Chanel then Jean-Paul Gaultier, this garment which has become timeless owes its success to History, but not only…

Let's reveal an open secret: the sailor top is above all and above all adopted by everyone because it suits all body types and all styles. Comfortable and elegant, it is the safe choice par excellence to perfect a casual chic look.

Andy Warhol in New York

The true story of the sailor top, this timeless and so frenchy

From the “striped knitting” of the French Navy to the Jean-Paul Gaultier fashion shows, head for this essential item of clothing for women's wardrobes.

Throughout the Middle Ages, in Europe, stripes caused disorder. It divides the colors of the fabrics, disturbing the divine order. Thus, until the 18th century, the stripe was the prerogative of the fool, the bagnat (horizontal) or even the servant (vertical). Nestor, Captain Haddock's very discreet butler, wears a yellow and black striped vest under his jacket. It is his servant's livery, his work clothing, which defines his status at the Château de Moulinsart and during all his travels.

Under the French Revolution, the stripe became the mark of the Sans-Culottes, then of the Dandys. The French then wear the cockade with pride. A few years later, certain soldiers of Napoleon's army, who went to campaign in Egypt, took up this motif which became a symbol of patriotism. In the Navy, in particular, red and indigo stripes are multiplying. They bring a touch of color to the undershirts that warm sailors from the neck down to the knees. Under Napoleon III, in 1858, the regulatory uniform for sailors required a cotton jersey sailor top with 21 white and blue stripes, as many as Napoleonic victories.

Little by little, the sailor stripes are arriving in the ports. Belle-Époque bathers adopted navy blue on their deckchairs, then on their outfits. They quickly understand how, by optical effect, the wide white bands highlight and accentuate the shapes of their thighs or their neckline. The transgressive stripe becomes playful.

Quickly, returning from their stays in Deauville, the writer Colette and soon Coco Chanel take the sailor dress into town. All of Paris during the Roaring Twenties is set ablaze. The sailor top became synonymous with the capital.

Since the 1920s, the sailor top has been an absolute must-have in Parisian fashion.

Pierre Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent and even Jean-Paul Gaultier from his first Haute Couture show in 1983, all the great fashion designers got involved in the game by reinterpreting, season after season, this iconic garment.

Coco Chanel and JP Gaultier - sailor tops

Which sailor top to choose?

The authentic cotton jersey sailor top

The authentic sailor top with 21 blue stripes is made of 100% cotton, a breathable material that is pleasant to wear in any season. Its boat neck, as worn by Brigitte Bardot, highlights the collarbones and softens the line of the shoulders. Its ¾ sleeves give an active, almost sporty touch to the silhouette.

The authentic French sailor top is created and recreated by iconic brands such as Petit Bateau, Saint James and Armor Lux. Its knitting specialists generally use a tubular knitting machine to create a sailor t-shirt with no side seams. The stripes are formed by the already dyed indigo threads. The sailor tops are therefore not printed, but knitted in color.

The colorful sailor top

Brands dare to use color!

Pink, red, orange, green, yellow, even multi-colored stripes will liven up any classic outfit. Some original sailor tops are adorned with small colored buttons to add a touch of gold, silver or brass to a rather sober top.

A stitch that suits me!

On a sweater or a little dress, the stripe transforms the silhouette. If a horizontal stripe tends to give fullness to a small chest, you can also play with verticality and geometric angles to refine your waist, emphasize your pretty back or lengthen your silhouette.

The jersey or interlock knit can be knitted in a tight-fitting way or worn in an XXL version. Play with stripes to transform your silhouette without dieting or wearing heels.

Kate Middleton How to properly combine the sailor top?

In Paris, the women's sailor top is generally worn with blue jeans, a cardigan or blazer, a pair of ballet flats and colorful lipstick. For Inès de la Fressange, a former model turned fashion reporter, the sailor top pairs perfectly with a pearl necklace and a suit jacket or a Burberry trench coat.

In mid-season, the sailor sweater or striped t-shirt is covered with a denim or suede jacket or a leather perfecto for a rock look in the city. In Brittany, it’s a ready-to-wear piece like any other. We put it on with a pair of rubber boots before going fishing or in the garden and we put on pretty espadrilles in the evening to join friends for a drink or a good dinner.

In summer, all you need is a sailor dress or a pair of shorts to give your outfit a holiday feel! When the air becomes cool again, the sailor top rolls up and slips into denim jeans with sneakers, leather boots, moccasins or little rock ankle boots, depending on the mood of the moment.

Two women wearing sailor tops

Versatile, timeless, as simple as it is sophisticated, the sailor top is the timeless piece par excellence, which is why it has such a special place at Les Cocottes . We like to pair it with our Erin Slim Jeans , Félix shorts or even a Bertille sweater layered on top.

It can be worn in every way and by all women.

Jane striped top pimp your style


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