French Dressing

10/05/2008

Every man, woman, and child should have a Breton sweater. It is one of those things that always makes you look really hot and really cool and like you don’t care about how hot or cool you are.

The Breton shirt was officially created by the French government on March 27th, 1858. On that day a formal French act detailed the classic blue and white striped knitted shirt as part of the uniform of the French seaman. It was said that this stripe allowed the easy location of a man who had fallen into the sea.

The sailor sweater called “chandail” in French would find its origin in Brittany. It’s a contraction of “marchands d’ails” which is what French navigators traveling to England to sell garlic and onions were called in the 18th century. The sweater is always very close fitting and knit in a heavy wool with three buttons on the left shoulder.

A few years ago I scored two vintage versions of this sweater. For those with a little less luck, they are still made by France’s Armor Lux who has been putting them out since 1940. A few weird websites import them like THIS ONE.

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