NEED to look chic in a hurry? Take a look at our pick of the best Breton tops for women.
From Brigitte Bardot to Alexa Chung, the humble striped design is responsible for some of the most iconic looks worn by style icons over the years – and it looks just as good today, as ever.
Originally seen on French Navy uniforms in 1858 (the name derives from its French navy origin, as most of the sailors were from Brittany), the Breton top founds its fashion feet when Coco Chanel borrowed the style for her famous Nautical collection in 1915.
In the years since, it’s become a bonafide element of 'French girl cool', epitomising all that is chic about Parisian style.
A Breton top is a staple in every wardrobe and looks just as great worn nonchalantly with denim as it does dressed up with a mini skirt and statement boots.
It's also a key transitional piece, so we've picked the best breton tops for women below, to take you through this season and beyond.
Best Breton tops at a glance:
- Best boatneck Breton top: J. Crew Boatneck T-shirt in Classic Stripe
- Best crew neck Breton top: La Redoute Breton Striped Cotton T-Shirt with Crew Neck and Long Sleeves
- Best colourful Breton top: Boden Long Sleeve Breton Top in Neon Pink Stripe
- Best basic Breton top: Boden Long-Sleeve Breton
- Best value Breton top: Marks & Spencer Pure Cotton Striped Straight Fit T-Shirt
- Best boxy Breton top: COS Long-sleeved Striped T-shirt
- Best Breton top brand: Petit Bateau Women's Breton Cotton Top
- Best alternative stripe Breton top: Ganni Stripe-pattern Jersey Top
- Best Breton stripe jumper: SAINT LAURENT Button-embellished Striped Cotton and Wool-blend Sweater
- Best Breton top for a night out: Ralph Lauren Striped Sequined Short-Sleeve Blouse
- Best reverse Breton top: A.P.C. Lizzy Balloon-Sleeve Cotton Jumper
1. Best boatneck Breton top: J. Crew Boatneck T-shirt in Classic Stripe
Boatneck T-shirt in classic stripe, £55 from J. Crew – buy here
J. Crew does preppy looks like no other, so of course, it's a go-to for Breton tops.
It even rebranded in 2018 and has brought prices down, so you’re in luck!
Just like Audrey Hepburn, we love this traditional sailor top complete with a boat-neck collar and navy and white stripes.
For a minimal yet Parisian-chic ensemble, team it with some slim-fit jeans and penny loafers – celebs from Gigi Hadid to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley have all been seen rocking that casual style.
2. Best crew neck Breton top: La Redoute Breton Striped Cotton T-Shirt with Crew Neck and Long Sleeves
- Breton Striped Cotton T-Shirt with Crew Neck and Long Sleeves, £32 from La Redoute – buy here
If you’re looking for a Breton top, La Redoute is a great retailer to try – you’ll find adorable options for both yourself and the kids.
Made from 100 per cent cotton, this long-sleeved top comes in blue and white, as well as blue and red.
In a relaxed fit, it’s also super comfy, while the gold buttons add a luxe feel. Team it with some sleek track pants for an on-trend athleisure vibe.
3. Best colourful Breton top: Boden Long Sleeve Breton Top in Neon Pink Stripe
Long Sleeve Breton Top in Neon Pink Stripe, now £22.40 (was £32) from Boden – buy here
Everything Boden touches turns chic – it's mastered the Breton T-shirt with eight amazing designs from neon pink to an orange hombre effect.
In a semi-fitted shape, this one is perfect to tuck into high-rise trousers or wear loose and relaxed.
Take it from Alexa Chung and team with your favourite denims: it's a Breton styling go-to.
4. Best basic Breton top: Boden Long-Sleeve Breton
- Long Sleeve Breton, £28 from Boden – buy here
You can count on Boden for a basic Breton top that’ll last you through years of changing trends and summer holidays.
In 100 per cent cotton, this long-sleeved, navy and white striped top is super soft, stretchy and oh-so-comfy.
It’ll look fabulous underneath some dungarees come rain or shine.
5. Best value Breton top: Marks & Spencer Pure Cotton Striped Straight Fit T-Shirt
- Pure Cotton Striped Straight Fit T-Shirt, £8.50 from Marks and Spencer – buy here
From the straight silhouette to the cosy cotton-rich fabric, this Marks and Spencer Breton top is a steal for under a tenner!
Featuring a figure-hugging fit, elegant crew neckline and short sleeves, this top is perfect for casual days.
When paired with trendy cigarette pants, this will take you everywhere from the office to lunch dates– swap between patent pumps, penny loafers and white trainers, depending on the occasion.
6. Best boxy Breton top: COS Long-sleeved Striped T-shirt
- Long-sleeved striped t-shirt, £45 from COS – buy here
We love COS’s modern take on the Breton.
The square neckline and wide sleeves give this top a relaxed vibe, but the contrasting stripes keep it from feeling too casual – you can dress it up or down easily.
To look like a Parisian babe, add some culotte jeans and white trainers. Trop belle.
7. Best Breton top brand: Petit Bateau Women's Breton Cotton Top
- Women's Breton Cotton Top, £94 from Petit Bateau – buy here
We saved the best until a little later in this list: the Parisian brand famous for its beautiful Breton tops, aka Petit Bateau.
Crafted from 100 per cent cotton, this cream and rust striped t-shirt features small Petit Bateau branding on the bottom – its iconic boat logo couldn’t be more sailor chic.
Simply wear it with some cigarette trousers and ballet pumps: less is more with this one.
8. Best alternative stripe Breton top: Ganni Stripe-pattern Jersey Top
- Ganni Stripe-pattern Jersey Top, £135 from Farfetch – buy here
Ganni's speciality – infusing every piece they make with an effortless cool factor – is reflected in this striped tp.
For a twist on classic Breton, we think a form-fitting, scoop neck jersey knit makes the right style statement, whether worn with a leather skirt or tailoring.
The front button placket is a stylish detail, too.
9. Best Breton stripe jumper: SAINT LAURENT Button-embellished Striped Cotton and Wool-blend Sweater
- Saint Laurent Stripe Knitted Jumper, £660 from Net-a-Porter – buy here
For Parisian girl chic with a bit of edge, Saint Laurent is the label to emulate.
Or, just invest in the real deal: an absolutely sumptuous cotton and wool blend knitted jumper with a round neck and slim fit.
Just add a mini-skirt, denim or trousers – and Saint Laurent Joplin ankle boots to complete the look.
10. Best Breton top for a night out: Ralph Lauren Striped Sequined Short-Sleeve Blouse
- Lauren Striped Sequined Short-Sleeve Blouse, £229 from Ralph Lauren – buy here
If the classic Breton style is firmly etched in daytime territory, then this Ralph Lauren version is its glamorous older sister.
Sure, it has those signature stripes, but the sequin finish adds a statement luxe touch – and means it'll look brill with leather.
11. Best reverse Breton top: A.P.C. Lizzy Balloon-Sleeve Cotton Jumper
- A.P.C.Lizzy Balloon-Sleeve Cotton Jumper, £215 from Liberty – buy here
If you're allergic to white tops, you can still rock the Breton look. Just find a reverse Breton – mostly dark blue, with white stripes.
A.P.C. is the brand to go for, especially if you like that effortless-yet-flawless French girl appeal (who doesn't?).
The Lizzy sweater is made from a soft cotton and is finished with balloon sleeves for added volume.
Add a blazer or a bomber – it works with everything.
What is a Breton top?
A French top dating back to the days of French Navy seamen in 1858, a Breton top (also known as a marinière) is a cotton, long-sleeved T-shirt, with blue and white horizontal stripes.
The Breton top has been popular throughout history on famous faces from Picasso to Audrey Hepburn, and is still a mainstay in most wardrobes (women and men).
These days, you'll find all kinds of variations on the classic Breton, from different stripe colours to different sleeve lengths and shirt silhouettes.
What do you wear with a Breton top?
The beauty of a Breton top is that it teams beautifully with absolutely anything.
Dress it up with a skirt, keep it casual with denim, or pair with tailored trousers and a blazer for a twist on workwear.
Wear a Breton top with shorts for effortless summer style.
You can even funk up a Breton top with an unexpected bottom: try pairing it with a sequinned skirt on your next night out.
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