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Why The Striped Breton Tee Will Always Be A Wardrobe Essential: From Alexa Chung to Jean Seberg to Coco Chanel

What's Really at the Heart of Our Striped Tee Obsession

Clockwise from left: Jean Seberg, Audrey Tautou as Coco Chanel, and me in one of my favourite striped tees. As I counted them out — 17 striped shirts — I thought it might be time to address my obsession with the wardrobe staple now taking over my closet. From celebrities to street stylers, and designers, striped t-shirts are a mainstay in the fashion world. Maybe it all started with style greats like Coco Chanel, who famously adopted the nautical stripes of French fishermen from Breton as her own emblem of style. Now, we can't think of the classic pattern without drawing comparisons to icons like Audrey Hepburn or Jean Seberg, or present-day style setters like Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo, who've given us even more ways to wear (and love) our striped t-shirts. Aside from the inspirational draw to nautical stripes, there's also a practicality to our obsession: they go with literally everything and lend a decidedly chic twist to just about anything we put on. They go day to night in a flash, span the test of time and seasons, and they're a totally universal buy. Sure, some striped tees are more pricey than others, but whether yours is H&M or Saint James, the effect is the same. Read on to feed your own striped-tee obsession with styling tips garnered from our favourite celebrities and street-style girls.

    • Offset the casual vibe of your stripes with dressier jewels — we love the way a bold-hued, or embellished statement necklace adds a glam juxtaposition to the t-shirt.
    • Give your striped tee an office-appropriate update with a sleek blazer. That's making use of not one, but two closet essentials — we particularly love the fresh, seasonal feel of a white blazer, like Olivia Palermo's, for Summer.
    • While the classics are, well, classic, don't underestimate the effect of a striped tee with a cool revamp in bolder, brighter hues, especially this season's neon varieties.
    • Contrary to popular belief, striped styles can work for a variety of body shapes. It's all about fit and stripe size. Smaller, finer stripes will be more flattering to curvier builds, while bold, wide-set stripes are generally best suited to smaller frames. As for fit, striped shirts that skim the body as opposed to oversized or too-snug stripes are the most universally flattering. You can always belt slouchier styles to nip in your waist and draw the eye in.
    • Don't be afraid to mix prints with stripes. Some of the coolest plays on the classic tee come from a pop of floral or leopard-print. If you're timid, experiment in small doses with a great pair of leopard-print flats or belt. Up for more of a statement? Try a Breton stripe top with a floral-print skirt.
    • We already know that a striped top looks perfect against denim cutoffs or jeans, but leather bottoms will give your stripes an edgier update. Try a buttery leather skirt or a black leather biker jacket for a modern-chic update à la Miranda Kerr.


Photos courtesy of Getty, IMDB, and FameFlynet; street style

Image Source: Phil Oh
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