La Marinière

Known en anglais as the Breton sweater (after the French province of Brittany), la marinière is as French as baguette.

"Bah, ouais, allez-y…Moi aussi, j'aime le pull chameau avec la mariniere. Merci…Et bien sur c'est cashmere." Image via

Or fois gras, maybe.

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As ohh-la-la as triple-crème brie. Or BB elle-meme.

It’s as Gallic as chain-smoking and existentialism.

It's said that this distinct, defined, and uniform design--these navy and white stripes--was chosen for its visibility amidst the choppy, murky sea, allowing for overboard young men to be spotted and hopefully plucked from their untimely, watery deaths. Image via

Originally created for the French navy, the uniform was first co-opted by French sailors and mariners and seafarers and fisherman and other nautical men, becoming the iconic marinière, visual metonym for sailor and sea, marin being French for sailor.

The utiliarian uniform was adopted and adapted by Coco Chanel (above) in the early 20th century. Oft-repeated iterations by Gaultier and Galliano keep this look in the lexicon. As does the fact that every woman in France owns several versions. (P.S. Ain't Cooc's chien fantastic? Photo via

The Breton striped shirt came into being following the 27th March, 1858 Act of France which introduced the navy and white striped knitted shirt as the uniform for all French navy seaman. This, I think, is really cool.

Given the smudged and sticky histories of stuff, it tickles me to no end that this one specific thing, this sartorial trope, has the benefit of a birthday, a quantifiable record beyond the quality of its endurance and distinction.

This adorable photo also tickles me to no end.

And of course Breton stripes are things that continue to pop up and prance down the runways.

For Spring 2010, Basso & Brooke offered up several allusive looks. This one is my favorite.

Peter Som sent this number down the runway for Spring, which basically proves incontrovertibly that stripes are the best of the prints to engage in mixology.

The simple, uniform pattern looks amazing paired with florals, leopard print, polka dots, toile, and so on. Here I’ve created a suggested look. Most of us have a floral skirt, great wedges, and some funky jewelry. Go wild.

My second recommendation for this French look pairing requires you to steal those camoflage cargo pants from your boyfriend. They make him look like a tool anyway, you know this. With the iconic striped blouse, these douchey pants make good. Mix dainty and dangerous accessories, for a rad masculine/feminine energy. To say nothing of the Army/Navy marriage. Yes, I am so clever.

For my final suggestion, I’m going for *POP*. In this case, RED is the **. Here I’m proposing a red sari as wrap skirt, but any red bottoms would work just as well, because the those stripes are going to stand out against the red. Though I would suggest choosing a non-knit fabric to contrast more acutely with the Breton sweater or T-shirt. For this particular look, because of the sari and the additional awesomeness of turquoise and red, I’m also throwing in Indian-Indian and American Indian accessories, throwing out mixed cultural references to the mix.

Note: Jak & Jil is a wonderful fashion photography blog run by the lovely seeming Tommy Ton. Likewise The Sartorialist is a wonderful fashion photography blog run by the smart and thoughtful Scott Schuman. All runway images taken from

I'll leave you with one final fashion image: Moschino sent this look down the runway for Fall 2010. Long leather gloves! Sunglasses! Cowboy hat! Love.

Wishlist Item #002: Gold? Pants!

It began when Ralph Lauren sent these beautiful, sparking creations down the runway for his Spring 2009 show–a show which really should be admired in its entirety, if you have the time and inclination. However irrationally, my heart took  a hit when I saw these.

Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! /Bright and yellow, hard and cold

I mean, I know they’re probably challenging to credibly wear in the real world, but, come on: huminah, huminah, huminah.

And when Chloé (also S/S 2009) sent these wow-diculous trousers (below) down the runway, I only thought of Ralph’s and how I longed to hold them in my ams.

Molten, graven, hammered and rolled, /Heavy to get and light to hold,

Double ditto for this Naeem Kahn iteration (below, also S/S 2009), which are infinitely more wearable than the paper bag trousers above.

Hoarded, bartered, bought and sold, /Stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled,

This is a palpable, almost painful, desire for gold lamé and/or gold sequin pants. And I drooled a little every time I saw this perfect pair.

Spurned by young, but hung by old/ To the verge of a church yard mold;

But I’d nearly shaken it, really I had. The daydreams and yearnings had become almost infrequent. But now I’m going through Lanvin’s Spring 2010 RTW collection, because I love Alber Elbaz and you will see more of this soon, and these two jumpsuits throw me back into the whirlwind of unrequited, unreasonable want.

Price of many a crime untold./ Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold!

As a side note Iris Strubegger is awesome. And alas Alber Elbaz always makes me covet things I’ll never touch. Where are my gold pants?

Good or bad a thousand fold!/ How widely it agencies vary,

I would also be happy to give home to these versions below from Kenzo Spring 2010, another recent reminder of this year-plus-old obsession.

To save, to ruin, to curse, to bless, /As even its minted coins express:

Of course, Balmain loves shit like this. And then Balenciaga S/S 2007 is the gold standard (har!) for crazy, gold pants. I love this Numero Tokyo (April 2007) cover with Kate Moss.

Now stamped with the image of Queen Bess, /And now of a bloody Mary.

So doled or stolen, bartered or borrowed, I would very much like to own a my own pair of not-at-all-practical, gold, crazy pants. Please. Thank you. That is all.

Notes: The poem quoted, in its entirety, throughout the photo captions, is “Gold” by Thomas Hood (23 May 1799-3 May 1845). All runway images are taken from The model wearing those perfect gold trousers on the runway is the same model wearing them in the Ralph Lauren ad, Valentina Zelyaeva.

Wishlist Item #001

For the first of what will be a series, my debut wishlist item1 is an odd but whimsical one: a leopard-skin pillbox hat. Because I love Bob Dylan.2 And pillbox hats.3 And leopard print.4

photograph by the great Henri Cartier-Bresson

This is the one item that I scan for, automatically, perfunctorily, every time I go into a vintage clothing store. I do not want a cheap version. My future leopard-skin pillbox hat should be, or at least appear to be, real fur. Sorry PETA but if I found an iteration that was once-upon-a-time a real, live leopard I’d be thrilled and think of Papa every time I wore it.

Hat with Current/Elliot The Moto Skinny jeans, American Vintage white tee, F21 studded velvet pumps, and BKE striped bangle

I will wear my leopard skin pillbox hat with killer heels, a great pair of jeans, and a simple white tee. I will wear my hat with a sexy LBD, my favorite pair of boots (the burgundy ones with the wooden heels), and that floral brocade jacket. I will get compliments on it every time I wear it. It will be the sort of piece that will make the days I wear it special, as our favorite clothing and accessories can. If I am sad, maybe I will put it on, put on Blonde on Blonde, and feel a bit better, enough to smile.

Miu Miu puff-sleeve crepe minidress, brocade jacket, and Frye boots

1. I know that wishlist is not one word but is, in fact, two separate words. No longer, I say! When the people behind the dictionary get wind of this awesomeness I’ll be famous.

2. Blonde on Blonde is my favorite Dylan record, one of my favorite albums of all time. It is amazing, perfect. If you do not already own this album, get thee to the itunes “store” stat.

3. So for the longest time, I never wore hats and didn’t think that I could pull them off. What I’ve come to realize is that I do not look good in utilitarian hats, that is hats with a purpose. But! I can pull off, and now love, any hat that is purely decorative. Result: Boo to beanies and other warm hats, baseball caps, floppy sun hats5 and big ol’ hell yeah to pillbox hats, cloche hats, fascinators, and anything with feathers.

4. For a look at leopard print done to grown-up, luxe, and daring FABULOUSNESS, please see Oscar de la Renta FA2009.

5. Don’t worry, I’ll still put on a hat for needed warmth and I absolutely protect myself from the sun. People, damnit, wear sunscreen, wear a hat. Skin protection is key.6

6. Who knows how to put footnotes in a blog? Smaller font? And yes, I am a technology underachiever.