Stripes are not just stripes. Stripes are a feeling!
Of sea, sun, salty air, and the taste of red wine and cheese; the scent of sunscreen and beach chairs, rushing waves and smiling children. Stripes make us think of the French Riviera as well as of the North Sea. They simply are the feeling of the summer.
They also remind us of the Roaring Twenties, the Rock’n’Roll of the 50s and the Parisian bohemian of the 60s. They radiate freedom, independence and rebellion. They look nostalgic, sporty, cool and individual.
But since when and why have they become so meaningful?
A little digression…
What we mean by stripes we in fact connect with the “Breton-Shirt”. In German, however, this term is less well known – we would call a striped top rather a striped shirt or a sailor shirt. Both names refer equally to the origin of the classic: In the 19th century, the “Breton shirt” was worn by sailors of the French Navy. It had 21 stripes back then – on the one hand, to recognize men who had gone over board faster in the waves, and on the other as a symbol of the 21 victories of Napoleon.
It was Coco Chanel who made the look and feel of the sailors socially acceptable for women when she designed a maritime collection in 1917. The symbol of lifestyles became stripes at the latest from the 30s, when in Saint Tropez both the French and the American elite romped à la Great Gatsby. The striped shirt had something very special about it – it was sporty and casual, but also quite elitist – just one of the many contradictions that make it so attractive.
The cult shirt was coined again in the 1960s – and once again in France. The Parisian avant-garde – intellectuals and artists in the Sartre and Picasso vaults – wore it as an expression of rebellion. But not only in Paris, but also in the US, it became the favorite piece of a well-known artist – of Andy Warhol himself. He dressed his muse Edie Sedgwick in stripes, as well as the artists of The Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, and John Cale, whose producer he was.
And maybe that is exactly why stripes are so iconic: they are a constant that runs through the decades.
In the 90s, the striped shirt had long been perceived with its typical French-casual, slightly wicked effect. It was with this very same image that photographers Helen and Stephane photographed Jean Paul Gaultier in a Breton shirt for a book cover. The photo was to become the most famous image the world had ever seen of Gaultier.
It was also Gaultier who brought the shirt to cult status when he graced his most famous perfume bottle “Le Male”. Together with Doc Martens and bleached hair it became a symbol of pop culture of the 90s – and not only thanks to Kurt Cobain.
A leap into the here & now: who wears striped shirts today and above all: how?
The must-have can be worn in a variety of ways: sporty, easy and cool or romantic, playful and ladylike – then also very much to tight pants and high heels. The nice thing is that there are no limits to your imagination, because true classics always work!
Our conclusion: Whether old or young, urban free spirit or small town lover, vintage or fashion lover – with stripes you are as always on the safe side and never boring – that’s guaranteed!