STRIPED suits are fine.


Because we are in the 21st century, they have become a pedestrian sight in the City.

Bankers, lawyers and businessmen sport them.

Pinstripes mean business. Chalk stripes don’t mean Al Capone.

Their vertical stripes are a positive if you are short

It will elongate your silhouette and accentuate your height.

But stripes can also be horizontal.

Now fast backward to the 13th century – the Medieval times.

Prostitutes, prisoners, clowns, hangmen and “the condemmed”  wore the striped garment.


In 1310, stripes were evil and it all started in France.

A cobbler was sent to death because he had been caught in striped clothes.

That man, was believed to be a member of the local clergy.

Michel Pastoureau  recounts the incident in his book –  The Devil’s Cloth.

The French scholar explains that  the first incident happened when two monks from Palestine came to Paris wearing brown and white horizontal striped cloaks.

The Carmelites did not expect to kick up a fuss  by wearing their official  robes.

Quickly, they became to be called  the barred brothers and Pope Boniface VIII banned the striped clothing from all religious orders.

The 12th and 13th century were definitely not a time to sport stripes.


They had a diabolical quality, a demeaning and pejorative  aura.

Even the zebra (which back then was not seen but heard of) was perceived as an evil creature.

So there you have it. The French would not hear of it, they wanted white cloaks.

The beast of Gévaudan was terrorizing the French countryside and it must have been a diabolical creature as it could not be striped!

Pastoureau believes that there must be a reason why people don’t want to wear them and he cites a verse from the Bible.

“You will not wear upon yourself a garment that is made of two.”

He thinks it’s possible that medieval Christians read it and interpreted it (yes, interpreted it).


Now, fast forward to the 18th century and stripes have become chic.

In France, receiving your guests between 1799-1804, meant you had to set up a striped Egyptian tent in your living room.

It was the height of elegance.

Iconic fashion designers such as Coco Chanel pioneered the striped sweater.

But way before that, Queen Victoria dressed her four-year old son – Albert Edward – in a sailor suit to board the Royal Yacht.

The nautical look grew – swimmers took to the style and men’s fashion  picked up on the trend.

In fact in 1858, the Act of France, introduced the uniform for all French seamen, in Brittany.

The breton stripe was born.


By the 1930′s, the navy and white stripes started spreading like wild fire.

Whilst being seen as a mariner attire, the influential Coco Chanel decided to sell the stripes at her shop  in Deauville.

But what triggered the stripe craze was when she was spotted wearing a striped top and palazzo pants.

That was it –  the Nautical stripe flourished.

In the 60s, stripes were seen as being rebellious.

Hipsters and people who question the fashion establishment sported them.


These days, we have seen the resurgence of them.

Designers from Marc Jacobs to Acne and Gucci are re-using the stripe for their new collection.

It’s interesting to know how much the breton stripes have gone through in history, considering how nonchalant we are about them.

Parisian chic, some say. Nautical connotation  to others.

There’s one thing for sure – the breton stripes have sailed tumultuous seas but nowadays, you can rest them on their laurels.

Pin stripes, chalk stripes and bretons stripes still bring images of bankers, Al Capone and French seamen

reblogged from:

Xoxo Sole Shoe Boutique.

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