Long before we stormed those Normandy beaches in 1944, the French were on our side. Just months after our Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, French volunteers were headed to our shores to aid the cause. And they saw us as trend setters, modeling their own revolution after ours. Both countries love the red, white and blue. And stripes. In a long list of French fashion classics, the striped sailor’s shirt hasn’t changed much in over 150 years. And like so many French classics, we have the pioneering Coco to thank. In 1917, she started carrying these striped shirts in her shop in the elegant seaside resort of Deauville.
I’ve loved seeing all the latest derivations of this striped wonder. But the original is really where it’s at.
After all, it was good enough for Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Lauren, Bridget Bardot, Andy Warhol and the Ramones (not to mention James Dean, Liz Taylor and Gene Kelly)….
Since 1871, these classics have been manufactured by a small French company that shares the name of the Normandy town where it’s based—Saint James. The original Saint James contract was not with Coco Chanel but with the Marine Nationale, the French navy. A government act degreed that sailors all wear striped shirts as part of their uniforms—the better to spot the unfortunate guy who fell overboard in churning seas.
Saint James now produces a dizzying array of these classics, in varied weights, colors and styles (including some pretty swank collaborations like the one done with nightlife impresario André and The Standard).
I vote for the original model, though. Along with red lipstick, ballet flats, a cigarette, an independent point of view…and a revolution.
Cindy’s a communications and marketing pro, a writer, a grammar snob, and a rapacious reader. In her own words, she knows “a little about a lot” — i.e., 19th century literature, Karl Lagerfeld’s latest adventures, professional bike racing, and when to use the Oxford comma. She’s a fan of indie film and music — and bullish on local eating and shopping.