What is Marinière?

OV Digital Desk

Marinière is a type of shirt or sweater that is typically associated with sailors and nautical fashion. It is also known as a Breton shirt, as it originated in the Brittany region of France in the 19th century.

The traditional marinière shirt is made of heavy cotton fabric with navy and white horizontal stripes, a round neckline, and long sleeves. The shirt was originally designed for sailors, as the stripes made it easier to spot a man overboard in the water.

The marinière became popular outside of the maritime world in the 20th century, thanks to its association with French fashion icons such as Coco Chanel and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Today, it is considered a classic and versatile wardrobe staple that can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion.

In addition to the classic navy and white stripes, modern marinières can also come in a variety of colors and stripe patterns. They are available in a range of styles, including t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, sweaters, and dresses. Overall, the marinière is a timeless and iconic piece of clothing that has stood the test of time and remains a popular choice for both sailors and fashion enthusiasts alike.

On 27 March 2020, Google celebrated Marinière with a doodle.

History and Significance

The history of the marinière, also known as the Breton shirt, can be traced back to the 19th century in Brittany, France. It was originally worn by sailors in the French Navy as part of their uniform. The classic navy and white stripes were believed to make it easier to spot sailors who had fallen overboard in the water, and the design quickly became popular among other sailors throughout Europe.

Knit tightly from wool in order to guard seafarers against the harsh elements of their maritime environment, the marinière’s initial function is well-known. However, the significance of the sweater’s striped design is still up for debate. Some stories say the horizontal stripes were designed to make it easier to spot sailors who fell overboard, while other accounts claim that each stripe was meant to represent one of Napoleon’s naval victories over the British. Regardless of its history, there is no denying that the marinière has since transformed into an unmistakable statement of style.

During the early 20th century, the marinière began to be worn by fashion icons such as Coco Chanel, who popularized it as a fashion statement for women. It became a symbol of French chic, and soon spread to other countries around the world.

In the mid-20th century, the marinière became associated with bohemian culture and the Beat Generation in the United States. It was also popular among artists and intellectuals in Europe and became a symbol of counterculture and rebellion.

Today, the marinière is still considered a classic and timeless fashion piece. It has been reinvented and updated by fashion designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, who has incorporated the stripes into his own fashion designs. The shirt has also been embraced by a new generation of fashion enthusiasts and is now available in various colors, styles, and materials.

Overall, the marinière remains a beloved and iconic garment that has transcended its original purpose as a uniform for sailors and continues to be celebrated for its simplicity, versatility, and timeless appeal.