When I first started to put together The Indispensables series, I thought it would be difficult to decide which items to feature. But it turned out to be fairly simple. They're the pieces with fraying hems and cuffs that spend more time on the drying rack then in a draw.
The second spot in the series goes to the Breton Stripe - a term I'm using fairly loosely: short sleeves, long sleeves, boat neck, scoop neck, round neck, thick stripes, thin stripes, heavy or lightweight, none will be disqualified for being over or under striped. Horizontal stripes are the only deal breaker.
Originally seen as a symbol of women's liberation, it personifies summer uniform and below are eight examples of this indispensable item:
Images courtesy of monbreton.com
A Breton post was pretty much cemented once I came across this British brand. Mon Breton simply offer one iconic product in varying weights and subtle colour variations. So what's so special, you might ask? You can customise.
How do you like your stripes in the morning?
'Mon Breton, My Way.' 'Made in France. Made Great in Britain.'
Image courtesy of sunspel.com
It was at Centre Commercial in Paris (brainchild of shoe brand Veja) that I first came across this heritage British brand. Based in Derbyshire and credited with making some of the first and finest T-shirts of the late 19th century, Sunspel advocate the human hand remaining 'just as important as cutting edge machinery'. You'll find this long staple cotton T-shirt in the men's section, increasingly my first point of call.
Images courtesy of stalf.co.uk
STALF may be the smallest brand on the list, but with every piece designed and handmade in Lincolnshire they sure are mighty. While theirs may stray a little further from Breton tradition, using exclusively British made fabric, this one says relax.
Images courtesy of braintree.com
If you're looking for a more feminine take on a classic, this one made of 100% organic cotton is from another British brand, Braintree. Offering 'thoughtful clothing' that treads lightly on the environment, they have helpful tips on washing, how to avoid colour running as well as generally reducing our substantial impact on the world...
Images courtesy of armorlux.com
Okay, time to be lured over the channel with this beauty from French brand Armor Lux. This classic tee is another style poached from the boys and it has some truly handsome qualities. Trust me, I've touched one. Their values? Quality, innovation and ethics. Sounds good to me...
Image courtesy of saint-james.co.uk
Head inland a little and you'll come across another staunch keeper of tradition. Straddling the borders of Normandy and Brittany time-honoured brand Saint James, recipient of the prized 'living heritage' award, has some seriously stripy savoir-faire. With up to 18 seamstresses lending their expertise to each garment, it's a keeper. Available in the UK from The Nautical Company
Images courtesy of howlin.eu
Looking for a more unconventional take on a classic? Belgian brand howlin' are serving up a stunner. Made in a towel fabric it's sure to keep out the English summer chill. Knitted and made in Belgium.
Image courtesy of marimekko.com
Renowned the world over for their elegant and exemplary approach to pattern, when it comes to a classic, Marimekko keeps it clean and simple. Their brand values:
Living, not pretending
Fairness to everyone and everything
Getting things done - together
Courage, even at the risk of failure
And they're hugely successful. Funny that.
Look out for The Indispensables #3 as we go right back to basics...
This post was originally featured on the study 34 blog