The marinière, official blue and white T-shirt of the La Marine Française, was “born” March 27, 1858.
It was re-born in 1930 when Coco Chanel decided this simple, fresh cotton pullover corresponded perfectly to her idea of ease, elegance and at that epoch, daring.
Once again it’s all the rage in its latest resusitation.
From newborns to nonagenarians the French navy’s T-shirt in its various permutations over the years — sequined or feathered from Jean-Paul Gaultier (pictured here); stretched into a dress from Sonia Rykiel, re-constructed by Dolce & Gabbana and budget-friendly knock-offs at H&M — has been a classic, year ’round staple in every French woman’s wardrobe.
Back in full fashion throttle this year, the Musée National de la Marine is featuring an exposition entitled “Les Marins Font La Mode“: “The Navy Makes Fashion” intertwining the uniform and the style it has inspired.
A word of warning on the fashion front: If you’re un petit peu rond, as one says here, horizontal stripes can be unforgiving. Consider wearing your marinière under a blazer and never wear it with high-waisted sailor pants. (P.S.: If you’re “a little round” never wear high-waisted pants under any circumstances.) Another trick: Decorate your neck with a red bandana, masses of beads, several strands of red coral. You’re staying on the bleu, blanc, rouge theme while moving attention exactly where you want it: Up, up and away. . .
If you don’t want to go all the way. A nautical scarf is a charming compromise and serves the same eye attracting purpose as things around your neck while completely avoiding a series of horizontal stripes marching down your torso. (If you want navy, you can have navy from Amor Lux as is the T-shirt above.)
(Ed. Note: The French say if you tweak the red pom-pom on a sailor’s beret it will bring good luck and happiness. Pourquoi pas?)