Breton

Nautical but nice – the 100 year history of the breton

Bretons are a mainstay of many a wardrobe. Smartened up with a blazer and skirt or thrown on with denim shorts, they are the ultimate dress-up-dress-down style staple. But have you ever wondered where this wardrobe cornerstone originated?

Bretons have been a fashion classic since Coco Chanel introduced them a full century ago in her 1917 nautical collection, but did you know that their heritage runs even further back? In 1858 they were introduced by decree as part of the French naval uniform, and Chanel was inspired by the smart look sported by the sailors on a trip to the French coast.

The original naval breton stripe was a strictly regimented affair – the breton was intended to be long enough to cover the lower back of the sailor, fitted enough not to get caught on rigging, and the stripes were a strict 2cm of white to 1cm of blue (and if the use of centimetres in the 19th Century seems strange, consider that the French actually started using the metric system in the 1790s, and it was adopted by the country as a whole in 1837. Ahead of the game in more than just style staples).

The breton has been sported by everyone from Chanel herself to Audrey Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. In more modern times it was revolutionised by Jean Paul Gaultier, and has been popularised by fashion icons such as Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo, and the Duchess of Cambridge frequently turns to a classic breton and jeans outfit for less formal engagements. We’ve collected images of famous breton wearers over on our ‘Nautical but nice’ Pinterest board, click image to view.

Of course, the breton in 2017 is every bit the style solution is was in 1917. A few twists and tweaks, and it still has all the fresh nautical appeal of the original, with added wearability. Kettlewell’s version has a slight change on the stripe width, and comes in four flattering colours, so if navy and white isn’t your best look, there’s still an option that looks amazing on you. And if you love the breton stripes but feel the need to wear something other than a striped tee occasionally (I suppose it’s possible that this might theoretically happen to some of you) then look no further than the maxi dress,  which carries the same classic-but-insoucient look of the original breton, brought right up to date.

Stripe Boat Neck in True Red, Cotton Blazer in Iris, Suede Tassel Clutch in Lobelia and Ballerina Pumps in Light Gold – all from Kettlewell

 

Stripe Maxi Dress in Red, Short Cascade Wrap in Azure, Tassel Necklace in Neon and Cream, Suede Tassel Clutch in Cobalt Blue – all from Kettlewell

Cosy Cotton Stripe Top in Deep Sea Green/Grey Marl, Florence Infinity Scarf in Soft Teal, Jersey Trousers in Marine Blue

If you haven’t adopted the breton stripe as a wardrobe staple yet, you probably should.

 

Perfect prints for every palette

While plain coloured clothes can form the building blocks of any wardrobe, prints really can be your wardrobe heroes. Whether you’re highlighting your best bits, camouflaging your, erm, less best bits, trying to find an effortless way of incorporating colour or simply embracing this season’s floral trend, prints can solve a multitude of wardrobe dilemmas.

The other problem with prints after your colour analysis can be deciding whether they’ll work for your palette. simple rule of thumb solution; the more a print aligns with your palette the better, but a bare minimum of 60% of the print falling within your palette will work well enough. Of course, the easiest way to get a print that fits perfectly within your season’s colours is to choose one from Kettlewell, where the colours have been carefully selected to match your palette.

And once you’ve bought your print, how do you wear it? Pick out a colour from within the print for the rest of your outfit, or go off piste and boldly clash? For information on how to wear prints for your season, click below to go to the appropriate post. If you haven’t had your colours analysed yet, why not take our quiz, or read on for more general tips and tricks to perfect your print game.

 

 

 

If you haven’t had your colours analysed and want to get started with prints, stick with either universal colours or ones you feel confident in and follow one of our simple formulas for wearing print. Start with a simple stripe and work your way up!

The stripe is right
Kettlewell items shown: Stripe Boat Neck in periwinkle, Ballerina Pumps in light gold

Keep it co-ordinated

Kettlewell items: Print Jersey Trousers in black/sapphire, Mid Cascade in black, Long Vest in sapphire

Neutral with a pop

Kettlewell items: Print Daphne Blouse in pastel & aqua, Short Ruched Skirt in pebble grey, Milan Knit Cardigan in light silver

Go for the clash

Kettlewell items: Stripe Boat Neck in true red, Short Ruched Skirt in ganzi purple, Ballerina Pumps in silver