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Between the Lines

Photo credit: Jess Ann Kirby (Left) / Pinterest (Middle) / Rodney Deane (Right)

by Jobie Soo

If I had a dollar every time someone called me “Waldo” when I had a striped shirt on, I’d be rich enough to buy a baguette (which I know does not cost a lot, but still…), hit him with it and tell him it’s called la marinière…

Don’t get me wrong. Mr. Waldo is a fashion icon himself in every way.

I mean, come on, those red-and-white stripes are I-C-O-N-I-C.

But to those who like to splurge on striped shirts (like me) or have a dozen of them lying around everywhere (also, like me), it’s not the “Waldo” look we’re going for, but the simple, subtle and effortless style of a Frenchie. Or Parisian-chic if you will.

La marinière, in French, is a classic form of attire that is characterized by the horizontal blue and white stripes. Dating back to the late 19th century, long before Mr. Waldo was “born”, the blue-and-white la marinière was the signature uniform for the French Navy. The original form of the blue-and-white la marinière had a standardized set of details to follow, like the number of stripes on each shirt and width of distance between each stripe… It was easier to spot a seaman from afar if he was dressed in a la marinière in case he fell in the water. So back in the day, those were definitely some life-saving stripes.

But how did la marinière go from a sailor’s uniform to a widespread fashion style as it is now?

It all started with a woman, Coco Chanel, who got the inspiration during one of her frequent seaside outings and turned la marinière into a nautical and fashionable piece of clothing. Because of her vision, it is no longer a signature pattern worn only by men but also by women, who have a desire to own a look that says “practical, comfy and, most of all, classy”.

A lot of fashion icons throughout the century has donned the la marinière with posh. French fashion icons like Brigitte Bardot (pictured in the first image) and Ines De La Fressange (pictured in the second and third images) symbolize perfectly the timelessness of la marinière. Even our former Miss Hong Kong Grace Chan (pictured in the fourth image) is loving this ever-green classic.

Photo credit: Getty Image (1st) / Alessandra D’Urso (2nd) / Ines De La Fressange Official Instagram (3rd) / Elle HK (4th)

From menswear to unisex-wear, from ready-to-wear to haute couture, this French style has truly conquered all facets of the fashion sphere over the years.

Simply put, la marinière is the must-have item you and I need in our wardrobe. This explains my long-standing obsession with this timeless piece of clothing. I mean, what’s not to like? its versatility to go with everything and anything in your wardrobe…

La marinière is like a chameleon, basically.

Remember I told you la marinière was saving lives back in its sailors’ days? Truth be told, it is still saving the lives of many (by ‘many’ I meant ‘myself’) by sparing us the trouble and misery from many last-minute wardrobe meltdowns.

Imagine just a quick trip down at the grocery store but you’re too lazy to put together a decent outfit that doesn’t say “I’m too lazy for this”? Well, all you need is a la marinière, a pair of cute shorts and flip-flops, then BAM! Laid-back and stylish, guaranteed.

Wanna look casual (but not too casual) for a lunch meeting? No problem. Just throw on a la marinière with a pair of heels and there you go… effortless, chic and classy.

La marinière is more than just a French striped garment. It is also a relic of the French style, an ageless fashion trend that stands the test of time. There’s a chance people will still be applauding this style 10 or 20 years from now. Other styles come and go every season, but la marinière is the ONE that never leaves.

It is the ONE style that is here to stay, forever, in everyone’s wardrobe. Boys and girls, kids and adults. Just like Petite Bateau‘s iconic nautical design.

Photo provided by Petite Bateau

Find out more on Petite Bateau’s page featured in our guide or their website for more amazing la marinière pieces!

So, now if you’ll excuse moi, I’ll go stride in my stripes.

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