The 15 Best Breton Striped Shirts for Grown-ass Women

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The best breton striped shirts for grown women by Wardrobe Oxygen

Hi, my name is Alison and I love striped tops. I regularly share striped tops in the capsule wardrobes I create because I find them so versatile and more elevated than a solid tee. I love them even though I am a curvy woman with a full bust; wearing what you enjoy is always flattering. I own over a dozen Breton striped tops and have owned even more over the years that have disappointed me. Below I share what I believe to be the best Breton striped shirts and marinières for us grown women.

famous celebrities wearing Breton striped shirts incoluding Kate Middleton, Andy Warhol, Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Kurt Cobain, Kate Moss, and Brigitte Bardot
The Breton striped shirt (also known as a marinière) has been a wardrobe staple of fashion icons for decades.

Don't take it just from me, a Breton striped shirt (also known as a marinière) is a classic piece of fashion worn by some of the greatest style setters over the past century. It can look tough or traditional, fit the stylings of a prep or punk, and looks great on individuals of all ages. A striped shirt doesn't go out of fashion, and can play nice with other patterns.

This post was originally published in 2020, but updated for 2023 with styles of Breton and striped shirts that are in stock and either I own and love, or receive fantastic reviews from friends and folks in the Wardrobe Oxygen community.

What is a Breton Shirt?

Before I continue, I want to discuss the term Breton shirt.  In 1858, the French Navy introduced a heavyweight indigo-striped shirt for its uniform, otherwise known as the Breton or the marinière.  The stripes were chosen so sailors could be easily seen if they went overboard.  The 3/4 sleeves and boatneck were so the shirts could be easily removed and waved as a flag during an emergency. Originally made in Bretagne, that is how the shirt got its name. 

The original Breton shirt had 21 stripes to represent Napoleon’s 21 naval victories over the English.  The Act of France which instituted this uniform stated, “The body [of the shirt] shall have 21 white stripes, each twice as wide as the 20 or 21 navy blue stripes.”

Many in the apparel and fashion industry have taken the name for the original Breton shirt and use it for any two-color striped pullover knit top with sleeves but it is important to know where this term came from and why some shirts have that name and others do not.

What is a Breton Shirt?
Just a few of my outfits over the 15 years of this blog where I wore a Breton striped shirt. While my personal style has changed, my love for stripes has not!

The Best Breton Striped Shirts for Grown Women

To determine the best Breton striped shirts for grown women, I was looking for quality fabric that can hold up to years of wear and washing. I desire classic Breton-inspired stripes instead of creative mixes so it stays stylish and stays in your closet for a long while. I also wanted a range of sizes and silhouettes as we grown-ass women aren't all a size 6 and aren't all the same shape.

The Best Long-Sleeved Striped Breton Shirts

Best Long-Sleeved Striped Breton Shirts

Joules Harbour Top

The Harbour Top from Joules is a classic heavyweight jersey striped top with slim long sleeves, a slightly curved hem, and a boatneck that is so well designed it won't show your bra straps. Available in sizes 2-22, I find this shirt runs a bit narrow, but doesn't shrink in the wash. Joules carries a range of Harbour striped tops in classic black or navy with white or cream, but also in candy stripes, embellished with flowers, and the occasional stripe with sparkle. The Joules Harbour Top is usually under $40. and shipping is free for orders over $79.

Everlane Modern Breton Tee

Everlane Modern Breton Tee

Featuring a subtle boat neck, a relaxed dropped shoulder, and an easy boxy fit, the Everlane Modern Breton Tee takes all of the time-honored details of a sailor shirt and adds a contemporary spin. Wardrobe Oxygen readers have shared this is a great weight top that doesn't shrink in the wash. Available in sizes XXS-XL, this 100% cotton top is currently available in three colors. The Everlane Modern Breton Tee retails for $68 and shipping is $4.95.

LilyCoco Long Sleeve Striped T-Shirt

LilyCoco Long Sleeve Striped T-Shirt

I have raved about this budget-friendly Breton striped top before. Can't stop, won't stop. I don't promote a lot of Amazon fashion, but the LilyCoco Long Sleeve Striped T-Shirt is pretty fantastic. Opaque, not too tight, nicely spaced stripes, this Breton striped tee looks far more expensive than its pricetag. While this top comes in 23 different colors and two sleeve lengths, check before you hit “buy” because not every color is the 95% cotton/5% spandex version I find to be the best. Available in sizes XS-XXL; the LilyCoco Long Sleeve Striped T-Shirt is always less than $30 and available for free Prime shipping.

Appleseed's Simply Stripes Long Sleeve Tee

Appleseed's Simply Stripes Long Sleeve Tee

What I love about a classic striped shirt is you can usually find a quality one in most any size and at most any price. And the Appleseed's Simply Stripes Long Sleeve Tee is a perfect example. A heavyweight cotton, this classic Breton striped top with a bateau neckline receives rave reviews for quality and fit. Available in seven classic colors (and a few novelty colors on clearance), it is available in misses, petite, and plus sizes S-3X. The Appleseed's Simply Stripes Long Sleeve Tee has different prices for different colors but is always under $45. Shipping varies on the price of your order and if you sign up for emails.

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The Best 3/4 or Bracelet Sleeve Striped Shirts

L.L.Bean Heritage Mariner Top

L.L.Bean Heritage Mariner Top

A true classic, the L.L.Bean Heritage Mariner Top is a heavyweight yet soft striped top with bracelet-length sleeves, boatneck, and a relaxed fit that hits at hip length. Always available in navy with off-white stripes or off-white with navy stripes, L.L.Bean occasionally offers other creative color combinations. This striped top comes in sizes XS-3X with petite offerings in XS-XL. The L.L.Bean Heritage Mariner Top is under $50 and shipping is free for orders $50+.

J.Crew Classic Fit Boatneck in Stripe

J. Crew Classic Fit Boatneck in Stripe

J. Crew has been selling a version of their Classic Fit Boatneck in Stripe for years. Each year they carry it in white with navy stripes and at least one other version. I own it myself in navy with white stripes; I bought it about five years ago and it's still regularly worn. With a relaxed fit and generous sleeves, this Breton stripe top is available in sizes XXS-3X and looks great tucked in or left out. The J. Crew Classic Fit Boatneck in Stripe is under $50; shipping is free but J. Crew often has free shipping promotions throughout the year.

Saint James Galathee

Saint James Galathee

Saint James is the O.G. for marinière shirts, and the Galathee is is their version that has a more feminine shape. With bracelet-length sleeves, a crew/round neck, and a fitted waist, this is a great choice for those who prefer a tailored striped shirt instead of a boxy/relaxed fit. As someone who owns a few Saint James striped shirts, I find the quality stellar and they look great even after years of wear. Available in sizes 4-20 and a dozen different color combinations, the Saint James Galathee retails for $109 and shipping is always free.

Vinyard Vines Striped Simple Boatneck Tee

Vinyard Vines Striped Simple Boatneck Tee

The Vinyard Vines Striped Simple Boatneck Tee is a great choice for those who desire a wider neckline that still covers a bra strap, and a lighter-weight fabric that is still opaque. This is a great choice for layering, but looks great on its own. The longer length is great for taller individuals and tucking in. Available in three different colors of stripes and sizes XXS-3X; the Vinyard Vines Striped Simple Boatneck Tee retails for less than $50 and shipping is free for orders $125+.

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The Best Striped Tunics for Grown Women

Best Striped Tunics for Grown Women

Saint James Phare Tunic

Get used to seeing a lot of Saint James in this list of Breton tops. I am a fan of the historic, high-quality brand (learn more about Saint James in my review of their Breton tops). The Phare Tunic is Saint James' iconic quality but in a UV-protecting fabric that drapes beautifully and is perfect for travel. With rave reviews for fit over curves, the Saint James Phare Tunic is available in four different stripe colors and sizes 4-20. The Saint James Phare Tunic is $185 with free shipping.

Talbots Authentic Talbots Tee

Talbots Authentic Talbots Tee

Each season, Talbots carries a variety of striped tunics called the Authentic Talbots Tee. I have owned several of these over the years and find the heavyweight 100% cotton hip-length top to be beautifully made, a comfortable but not boxy fit, and they hold up nicely over the years. The Authentic Talbots Tee usually comes in Talbots' full size range which means misses, petite, plus, and plus petite sizes XS-3X. The Authentic Talbots Tee varies in price but is always under $80; Talbots charges $8.95 for shipping but often has reduced shipping promotions.

Jessica London Boatneck Tunic

Jessica London Boatneck Tunic

This cotton blend tunic comes in solids but also some fantastic stripes. And with gold buttons on one shoulder, the Jessica London Boatneck Tunic looks more expensive than its pricetag. With over a dozen colors, there are five great stripes to choose from. This tunic is available in sizes 12-42/44. The Jessica London Boatneck Tunic retails for $32.99; shipping price varies depending on total cost of your purchase.

Duluth Lightweight Longtail T 3/4 Sleeve Tunic

Duluth Lightweight Longtail T 3/4 Sleeve Tunic

The Duluth Lightweight Longtail T 3/4 Sleeve Tunic comes in a variety of solid colors, but also one white with blue stripe version that is quite classic. From a cotton/poly blend, this tunic-length Breton stripe top is opaque and offers plenty of length in sizes XS-XXL. The Duluth Lightweight Longtail T 3/4 Sleeve Tunic retails for $31.50 and shipping is free on orders $50+.

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The Best Short-Sleeved Breton Shirts

Boden Short Sleeved Breton T-Shirt | Best Breton Striped Shirts

Boden Short Sleeved Breton T-Shirt

Updated for 2023, the Boden Short Sleeved Breton T-Shirt is an improved classic. A slightly lighter-weight fabric that is better for the warm weather, this striped top has a classic crew neck, slightly longer sleeves, and a length that works whether you want to tuck it in or leave it out. Each season, Boden carries a different variety of stripes and colors in this shirt, but always white with navy or black stripes, and navy with white stripes in sizes 2-20/22. The Boden Short Sleeved Breton T-Shirt retails for less than $40 and shipping is free for orders $49+.

LilyCoco Striped Short Sleeve | Best Breton Striped Shirts

LilyCoco Women's Striped Shirt Short Sleeve Top

I also own the LilyCoco Women's Striped Shirt Short Sleeve Top and find the quality to be excellent, rivaling Breton striped shirts that are three times the price. An opaque cotton blend, it has a round neck, a great length sleeve for us grown-ass women, and a tailored but not tight fit. Available in 15 different colors and sizes XS-XXL, the LilyCoco Women's Striped Shirt Short Sleeve Top retails for less than $25 and is available for free Prime shipping.

La Ligne Striped Val Tee | Best Breton Striped Shirts

La Ligne Striped Val Tee

If you're looking for a quality short-sleeved striped tee that will hold up quality-wise and style-wise through the years, check out the La Ligne Striped Val Tee. This is a truly elevated tee. Made from soft 100% cotton, this is a crisp white shirt with bold black stripes and a slightly roomy “boyfriend” fit in sizes XS-XL. The La Ligne Striped Val Tee is $115; shipping is free.

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As always, I welcome your recommendations!  If you've found a fantastic striped tee, do share in the comments and help out fellow Wardrobe Oxygen readers!  Also, many of the best items in my wardrobe are from your suggestions.  We all benefit from honest reviews from those we trust!

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44 Comments

  1. I absolutely adore my Breton shirts, and my go-to brands for them are Talbot’s and Lands’ End. They both offer boat necklines cleverly designed to conceal bra straps.

  2. Striped Breton tops are my favorites too. Thank you for introducing me to Seasalt Cornwall last year. They keep coming up with more irresistible colorways of their sailor tops and I keep buying them.

  3. This is not a traditional Breton, but I wanted to give a shout out to this tee from L.L. Bean. It’s lighter weight than a Breton, but I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of it in the summer and find it flattering. I have it in the black and white stripe and I just got the navy and lavender one. And I really like the contrast trim around the neck. https://bit.ly/3NjS6kc

  4. Hi – I just discovered your blog and this post!
    Lately, I have had a hard time finding LLBean French Sailor shirts and would like to ask if you have tried the shirts from The Breton Shirt Company. They seem to be based in England but ship to the US.
    I’d love to know your opinion!
    https://bretonshirt.com/

  5. I absolutely loved this post, and it’s what has kept me reading WO over many years. I’m wearing my Breton stripe shirt today because of this post, though mine has 23 white stripes for a Large Tall. It’s Old Navy summer 2014, heavyweight/ponte, and probably the best garment I’ve ever purchased from them.

  6. Thanks for the recap! ONLY because I just read your old Breton shirt post and this new one, AND clicked thru to a number of sites selling Breton shirts, did I notice your error in paragraph 2: s/b 1858 not 1958.

  7. I severely edited my striped T collection down to about 6 or 7. My old reliable is a GAP shirt that’s about 10 or 11 years old. I lost it in my closet (yes, that used to happen) for about 6 months and bought several shirts trying to replace it. And one day, it reappeared. I think it went on a trip to France without me, wearing a red scarf around the neck with ankle pants and little flat shoes.

  8. Stripes are a favorite of mine too! I’ve got both the J Crew shirts you mentioned (just replaced the thinner one about a year ago). I love the look of the thicker one but once I have it on, it’s not my favorite. Something about the thicker fabric; it just doesn’t feel as good on me as the thinner one does. For short sleeves, I am so bad about buying too many—searching for that holy grail. Still looking…

    1. My favourite striped shirt is a black and white, with thin reddish-magenta stripes Jockey long sleeve I got for $1 at the local hospital auxiliary thrift store. It’s from some home sales clothing program they have in the States, so how it ended up in my small town of 1000 in Canada, who knows, but it means finding a replacement is futile. It’s my unicorn. And a couple months ago, I was cleaning the bathroom and didn’t wear an apron and managed to get a big bleach stain right across the bust. Boo. It’s my go-to painting and dog walking shirt now. It should be tossed, but it’s so perfect in fit and fabric weight, I just can’t.

      1. You KNOW I can relate to this. It’s so hard to let go of something so perfect, especially when it’s a unicorn like that. I am sorry for your striped loss.

  9. My Breton shirts are from Talbot’s and Lands’ End. Both have boat necklines that are constructed to hide the bra straps. Years ago I had one of the first Breton shirts in this country from LL Bean. The boat neckline back then was higher than it is now, when boat necklines that are guaranteed to slip sideways seem to be mandatory. It is such a pleasure to find a boat-neck shirt (Breton or other) that doesn’t slip around. (End of rant!)

    1. I had an older LL Bean Breton stripe and it got stained. When I reordered it last year it had changed so much I sent it back. 🙁

      1. It’s so frustrating how quality has diminished even from old standby brands. We’ve become a society that expects fast and cheap but sacrifices are necessary to achieve that. It’s sad that we’ve come to accept a decline in quality for instant gratification. I can only hope that this year is a time when our society reassesses its priorities and I wonder which retailers will be able to pivot or return with any success.

  10. Thanks for this review.

    It takes ordering from England, but I have had two striped shirts from Kettlewell Colours that keep their shape, keep their color, and are flattering. Very good quality cotton, one I have is probably five years old and looks new, I throw it in the washer and dryer. I looked on their site today, they have four different styles (different neckline, or 3/4 sleeves that kind of thing), all in varying colors .

    I’m not associated with them in any way, I just think they’re a good value.

  11. I love the Lands End long-sleeved Breton… LE is my go-to for any t-shirts for both me and hubby. The quality of the fabric is the best of any t-shirts I’ve owned.
    I’m also a big fan of Boden, but find their prices are bit heavy for me, unless on sale… I only ever buy LE when it’s on sale or with a voucher!

  12. I don’t know if this “politically correct” since we are supposed to feel good about our bodies BUT .,..isn’t there always a but haha……being an XL or XXL I have stayed away from horizontal stripes…but would love to have one to wear under blazers, etc…what type of stripe do I look for so I feel comfortable in it and actually wear it…irregardless of how I should I feel…I am self conscious of a larger bust so do I want a stripe that is narrow or wider stripe along with any other advice on colors, fabric etc…thank you

    1. Nancy- I have found that as long as the horizontal stripes aren’t all wide stripes, they can work on larger sizes. I actually avoid boat necks because of my broad shoulders and large bust… but they look great on Allie! It seems we really are our own worst critics!!

    2. Feeling good about yourself and what you wear is always an appropriate topic, especially on this blog. We can love ourselves and our bodies and still want to choose clothing and silhouettes that make it look the best we think it can. I find the stripes that start lower down near the chest to really emphasize my bust. I also find black and white combo to make more of an optical illusion than any other color combo. Over the width of the stripes I find the weight and style of the shirt to make an impact. A lot of striped shirts have fitted long sleeves and that just makes my chest more pronounced. Too tight and stretchy and the heavyweight shirts I both find to not achieve the look that makes me feel good. I find even wide stripes to look juvenile and you’re more likely to have a stripe hit at an unfortunate place on the body. A classic Breton like the ones here are a good start, go with 100% or close to 100% cotton. If you’re willing to take a gamble, try the J. Crew boatneck I’m wearing with the shorts. J. Crew isn’t bad with returns, you may even be able to find this exact shirt for less on Poshmark or ThreadUp. Good luck!

  13. I agree with Linda that LL Bean shirts don’t work well for tall women. Sad, b/c their striped shirts are great quality (but short and fitted).

    As I think back, my favorite striped shirt was a man’s Breton, from France, that I wore for years. It was perfect. Not sure why I gave it away.

    I think a retailer could make a fortune on a women’s tunic-length, loose fitting, cotton Breton-like shirt. I would buy several.

    1. bette,
      you just gave me a great idea… i wear a 2x but the ones i’ve seen so far are too short to cover my belly… and sadly, lands end and LL bean don’t have their breton shirts right now… but you reminded me that i could order a man’s shirt and it could work… so i just went to bretonshirt.com and ordered the original breton shirt and the nordique noir from the men’s side, but extra large so that it would be guaranteed comfy… and for $10, i should have them in three or four days.

      it’s so great to find this blog, and to suddenly realize that my obsession with breton shirts isn’t totally crazy… i have different versions of it, including two that are very light and more of a blouse than a tee… glorious on summer days… but i’ve always wanted something close to the original… leave it to the french to create something so simple, but so perfect. 🙂

  14. I loved the background on Breton – I learned something new today! And I have one that closely matches that description, by cabi (a few years old), that I love when I’m in the mood for a striped tee. But I am interested in checking out the St. James – I love that rainbow striped one!

  15. Great information! I am a fan of St. James. I purchased two during a trip to France two years ago and they still look and feel brand new! I also love the Boden tees. Their quality is top notch and their price point is good. They are soft and like the St. James tees they look and feel brand new after multiple washings!

  16. I so wish I could buy LL Bean shirts, as they are such good quality, but if you are tall and long-waisted, LL Bean is not the brand for you. They make tall pants; why can’t they make tall shirts?
    Thanks for this review. I’m going to try Talbots to see what they have.

  17. I discovered that JCrew Breton tee via your blog and I really like it – mostly. I have a novelty version in black and white that says “Hello Sailor” in red, and I have a red/white combo. For some reason, the navy/white tends to twist to the side on me, so the side vents aren’t lined up when I wear it. I ordered a backup, and unfortunately, same problem. It’s odd because my others don’t have that problem. That said I will be wearing the navy/white until it dies. It’s still a favorite. And the Talbots Authentic Tees are a close second for me. Thanks for reviewing these and all the info.

  18. I too am a seeker of the perfect Breton like shirt. A brand I have had good luck with is Joules. They have a heavier fall, and a lighter spring version. I have broad shoulders and muscular upper arms and I don’t find them tight. The body fit in similar to the LL Bean cut.

    1. A reader once sent me her extra Armour Lux Breton. it was a bit snug but I didn’t care and wore the heck out of it. It really is great quality and style!

    2. Hear, hear! Striped tops are my family’s uniform and we all have ArmorLux since a trip to Brittany a few years ago. The cotton is excellent: thick and withstands repeated washings. Just don’t wear it brushing your teeth as the navy stripes hate the paste- any flecks will bleach them.

  19. I love stripes and do have striped tee shirts. I look at Breton shirts longingly, partly because I am a Francophile and have loved the look forever and partly because… stripes. But I have narrow shoulders and anything described as ‘boat neck’ always puts my bra straps on display. Which I don’t feel is ideal.

    1. I’m so glad to see that many brands have stopped with the boatneck and offer more of a crew or jewel neck as well! I know you’re not the only one who deals with that issue!

  20. My current Breton is an interesting gray shading to navy blue from Uniqlo about 5 years ago when they first started selling in the US. But my heart is with an incredibly durable red and white LLBean Breton which I wore throughout the 1980’s.

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