View Full Version : Where to find Breton - French Naval Shirts?

The Wingnut
05-06-2005, 10:59 PM
Anyone know where to find a shirt like this without paying for some silly designer name? Should be simple, but I'm coming up empty. It's the classic boating shirt. Only source I can find is St. James of France, and the prices are sky high if you can find a retailer.

I'd expect to pay $15 - $20, but not $50!


05-07-2005, 05:50 AM
Join the Portugese Navy and they'll give you one for free! :)

05-07-2005, 07:52 AM
If you can take a long sleeved version, there are Russian ones in surplus shops and on eBay-
-hopefully you'll find one in the USA- check out the Army/Navy surplus stores.
-cut the sleeves down or leave them.
I have several of these- some cotton like a T-shirt and one wool.


05-07-2005, 09:56 AM
If you only want the shirt for the striped pattern, L.L. Bean, J. Crew, Lands End and J. Peterman all have variations on this theme (Lands End used to be a good boating supplier), but the necklines will be more of a "crew" type and less of the more angular "Breton" square neck and shoulder.

I've got two of the cotton ones from the store in Brittainy and I've got to tell you, they wear like iron. Little pricey, but a good investment.

What would be really cool would be to find one like Cary Grant wore in To Catch A Thief. That's a sharp look!

Nick Charles
05-07-2005, 01:11 PM

the website is http://www.sieglers.com/isroot/sovietski/ImagesOnline/catalog/300103.jpg

The Wingnut
05-07-2005, 01:24 PM
Russian surplus, perfect! I find Soviet stuff to be neat just for its dirt cheap yet robust nature.

Thanks, guys! This will be combined with a knit watch cap, black boots, navy pants, and a peacoat for the longshoreman look.

05-08-2005, 04:14 AM
I think that Seaman's shirt suits a Bogart look too-
he was something of a mariner.

Those stripey shirts date back hundreds of years in maritime history and were used by many nations- stylish too.


05-08-2005, 04:37 AM
I just remembered, my most recent blue and white stripey shirt was from
Hennes & Mauritz, (Swedish)that's H&M, I know you have H&M in the 'States now but not where.
They're a cheap, 'youth fashion' shop but sometimes have some cool stuff.
Sometimes cool by virtue of price of course-

You might be lucky if you have one in your nearest city.

Just a thought-


Biltmore Bob
05-08-2005, 08:28 AM
You can probably get them at any Mime store... :)

The Wingnut
05-08-2005, 09:54 AM
They're going on ebay with a $12 Buy it Now. At that price, I'm thining of getting two.

The striped shirt is a classic look. Combined with a dark 1/2 length coat and a watch cap or a newsboy, they really make you look like a '30s 'tough'. It's a look that gives you an excuse to not shave.

05-08-2005, 10:34 AM
Can you point me to them- I'd like to see.

Quite a Continental look too of course-
if you think of them as a Breton shirt.

What about the stripey sweaters with the button-up shoulder?
They're vintage maritime and nice too-

An alternative mode of accessorisation for the stripey shirt is;
a beret, a moustache, a string of onions around the neck and a bicycle.


Seems like they're pretty much premium Yuppie-wear too; hand-sewn deck shoes floppy hair and RayBans... guaging from the prices on such websites.


05-10-2005, 08:51 AM
...An alternative mode of accessorisation for the stripey shirt is a beret, a moustache, a string of onions around the neck and a bicycle.You forgot about the long loaf of bread under the arm.

04-26-2006, 01:03 PM
I'm looking for a reseller in the USA to buy a classic, striped Breton shirt as worn by Picasso.

I found a slew of European stores that sell them but after the cost of shipping to the U.S. they end up with a 75 dollar pricetag. They're basically just long sleeve, cotton t-shirts with stripes and I can't justify spending that much on a t-shirt.

Anybody know of an affordable place to find these shirts in the U.S. ?

The Crewchief
04-28-2006, 12:42 PM
I have a bunch of the Russian Navy undershirts in XL if you want. They are justt like the French one. White with thin blue horizontal stripes, long sleeve. Very reminicent of Picasso. $12 each shipped. Let me know
I have a paypal account if it easier for you
I have %100 postive feedback after over 160 transactions on ebay and I am recognized as a very trustworth seller.

04-28-2006, 12:47 PM
J Peterman (http://www.jpeterman.com) sells them. "The Vallauris Shirt." Dead copy.


Hemingway Jones
04-28-2006, 02:15 PM
J Peterman sells them. "The Vallauris Shirt." Dead copy.
And you can buy the poster of Picasso wearing it to go with it. :)

Baron Kurtz
06-07-2006, 10:24 AM
just found this thread. there's a company in britain called the breton shirts company ...



06-07-2006, 12:33 PM
Anyone know where I can get one like Cary Grant wore in To Catch A Thief?
His looked as if it had thinner stripes when compared to these.

06-07-2006, 01:34 PM
The Saint James Co. is a French company that has been makinng these shirts and sweaters since the 19th century. They have a store in NYC and soon--sometime this month--they are supposed to have sales on their web page: http://www.saintjames-usa.com/

The Wingnut
06-07-2006, 05:41 PM
The Saint James shirts are ridiculously expensive. About $12 to $24 for a Russian Navy work shirt (Telnyashka), bingo, you're done.




06-07-2006, 06:40 PM
Those are great prices! Thanks for the post!

04-20-2010, 05:29 PM
Every now and then someone here mentions the Breton striped shirt (or boat shirt, marinière, sailor's top, etc).
Enough justification to start this thread.
I have a long fascination with these shirts and recently started this blog (http://iseastripes.blogspot.com/), a journey into the history, associations and affiliations of the marinière.
Born officially with the (French) 27th of March 1858 Act, which made the blue-and-white striped knitted shirt part of the regulatory uniform for French sailors. It was thought that the stripes would help to locate seamen who fell overboard.
The original shirt featured 21 stripes, one for each of Napoleon’s victories.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_4sDK3codoaA/S6FkoDQDbjI/AAAAAAAAC5k/ZjyUDKb7MvA/s1600/thoughtful%2Band%2Bcontemplative%2BJames%2BDean%2B is%2Bphotographed%2Bbelow%2Bwhile%2Bhaving%2Bbreak fast%2Baround%2B1954-1955.jpg
Since then, the shirt made it's way into the world of the bohémien, the arts, fashion and film industry - largely due to Coco Chanel, who started wearing the striped shirt in the 1930's. It got widely adopted by actors like Brigitte Bardot and James Dean, artists like Picasso, Rock 'n Rollers like Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop and the Velvet Underground.
Still, the striped shirt is an essential part of the naval uniform of many countries. After France, the Russians (later Soviets and then the Russians again) chose the telnyashka as a standard navy garment (later introduced for paratroopers in a lighter blue, MVD in red stripes and Border Guards in green as well).
The Chinese Navy is a wholesale user (called the Haihun Shan or Sea Stripes Shirt) and many smaller countries use the same design.

04-20-2010, 05:48 PM
I have a few telnyashkas...one's a thin wool sweater, the other is "long john" weight and the third is a thin cotton one. All Russian. I'd love to get my hands on a real one from Brittany, but that's out of my budget for now...I'm glad they're coming back into fashion.

04-22-2010, 07:37 AM
I got one years back as a Christmas present - it came from the Breton Shirt company. http://www.bretonshirt.co.uk/acatalog/Shirts.html A punk thing for me - based largely on photos of a young Joey Ramone wearing one under his Schott Perfecto style mc leather.... I still have that shirt somewhere, along with a (much cheaper, but of equally high quality) genuine Russian surplus equivalent. Mine are both fine navy blue stripes on an off-white background. Great alternative to a shirt or T shirt with a pair of jeans. I even once or twice wore one with trousers and a blazer on a quiet day in the office.

04-23-2010, 08:56 AM


08-17-2010, 10:37 PM
A fantastic book on every part of the mariniere history is available again through Amazon France. Click here (http://www.amazon.fr/marins-font-mode-V%C3%A9ronique-Alemany/dp/2070124576/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1282109686&sr=1-1-fkmr2), highly recommended!

Todd V
08-19-2010, 06:20 PM
I just remembered that Archival Clothing offers a nice version:


Henry Hughes
09-06-2010, 09:18 PM
Found the shirts but any ideas on where to get one of the shoulder buttoned sweaters for under $200?

Todd V
09-06-2010, 10:41 PM
Archival Clothing also has them, as does Union Made Goods in San Francisco. Both have websites of the same name. I think I am going to buy the red
one for myself.

Found the shirts but any ideas on where to get one of the shoulder buttoned sweaters for under $200?

09-07-2010, 03:26 AM
This is me in my Valluris shirt from J. Peterman.
It's very high quality and it's probably going to last significantly longer than any of my cheap thin cotton Russian telnyashkas and even my wool sweater telnyashka. I've already put some wear and tear on in those in less than a year. And, the Russian ones have a tendency to shrink unless you wash them delicately. The Valluris shirt is less high maintenance...

10-28-2010, 10:13 PM
It took me close to a year; being a non-Chinese speaker, dealing with old style Communist-era military uniform factories, customs officials and complicated international money transfers (one learns to appreciate Paypal when dealing with Chinese manufacturers!), but I managed to get one lot of original Chinese Peoples Navy shirts in!
For decades it was just the standard issue undershirt for sailors and seamen of the Chinse Peoples Navy, but over the years it has evolved into a fashion/youth culture phenomenon, thanks to rock stars like He Yong and Zhang Chu, counter-fashion magazines and the film industry.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_4sDK3codoaA/S80OCK71bSI/AAAAAAAADkI/WGVanEUkpls/s320/Chinese+Naval+Shirt,+Sailor%27s+Striped+Shirt+(2). jpg
I quote from NeochaEDGE (http://edge.neocha.com/culture/chinas-classic-haihun-shan/), a "daily-curated, bilingual website and discovery engine dedicated to showcasing leading-edge creative content and emerging youth culture in China":
"China. China wasn’t a very colorful place in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, in fact, the 80s weren't much of an improvement either. Essentially, clothing during the “revolutionary period” was limited to three main colors: black, white, and grey (and sometimes dark blue). If someone owned a haihun shan they were admired by all – it was considered very flamboyant and fashionable. Interestingly though, these weren’t very hard to get hold of during that time; they just weren’t worn because most people didn’t want to break the mold and standout."
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_4sDK3codoaA/TMo7-gubEZI/AAAAAAAAE0w/zGWo9v2APbA/s400/Chinese+hipsters+and+music+fans+adopting+the+trend .jpg
I stock a number of these Soul-of-the-Sea shirts (or Haihun Shans") in XL and XXL (that's what it says on the label; in reality it's more like M-L and L-XL). Have a look at my blog, here (http://iseastripes.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-navy-shirts-are-in.html).

10-29-2010, 03:02 AM
Oh my, I must look into your blog... I've been going to Beijing since 2006 for, on average, about ten days a year, but never been able to find any local army surplus stuff. The few places I've seen have been predominantly US (or "US Military-style") items. I do have one of the current issue PLA tunic and trews sets (and the cap) which I bought for a Blofeld costume a couple of years ago (not the right colour, but the only way I could find a Mao suit without going bespoke - outside, that is, of those Dr Evil costumes which - while reasonably close in style and colour, were just awful - usual fancy dress "quality" rubbish). I haven't yet seen these shirts on sale anywhere. I do have a Russian one somewhere, which at least looks similar - love it. I'm hoping in December to be able to find time to visit the Beijing Military Museum - hoping I might see something interesting there.

10-30-2010, 01:27 AM
I gotta say I've owned a Russian naval shirt for about 4 years and its been great, its just now started to give way, the arm pit stitching ripped, but after going to a trip to Toronto and checking out a militaria shop, I noticed there are heavier sweater types, Belorussian and Russian made instead of mine, which I suspect is Ukrainian manufactured, and they were beautiful sweaters and shirts, really high quality, but I settled on a Canadian combat shirt with its many pockets for a nice 10 bucks, so good I got two! :D

11-02-2010, 05:13 PM
Jean Paul Gaultier continues to find new avenues for his sailor striped theme: Le Male Terrible is a fragrance for men, introduced in 2010. The nose behind this fragrance is Aurelien Guichard. Top notes are grapefruit and pink pepper; middle notes are lavender and vetyver; base notes are amber and vanille.

http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT1ZvVsuAc_8vcSbqJ50KcDcA1FmoSYn 0-4BK4afvKxBdsRa74&t=1&usg=__C1D--0tj0xX2QQedmSkIbQTAlCA=
The introduction of his new perfume goes with some beautiful video clips - sailor striped overtones, of course.