They say Helen of Troy had the face that launched a thousand ships. Well, the Breton stripe might be the pattern that launched a thousand brands—or if not a thousand, then at least a significant number of really good ones. The search for the perfect striped shirt has led several designers to strike out on their own and create whole lines devoted to the print—which is a boon for those of us who are on the hunt for one (or three) to add to our collections in time for summer. After all, they're just about the perfect garment for the season: Pair them with blue jeans and a basket bag for a summertime look that’s très Jane Birkin, or channel Jenna Lyons and wear them with an embellished skirt and a blazer for dinner out.
Read on to get acquainted with four must-know brands for stripe aficonados, and shop our favorite wear-anywhere tees and tops from each.
What began as a luxury children's line is now one of fashion insiders' go-to sources for striped shirts. The modern, flattering cuts, punchy colors, and signature contrast tab on the hem elevate the styles, and designer Nikki Kule's devotion to the pattern has earned her a loyal following.
Founders Meredith Melling, Valerie Boster, and Molly Howard bonded over their shared appreciation for the versatility and timelessness of stripes—and they even went so far as to name their brand in honor of the humble line (in French, however, so it still sounds suitably chic). While La Ligne offers a full range of ready-to-wear, its super-soft tees are always a great bet (especially the few that can be monogrammed).
The fastest way to look like you summer in the Hamptons and know your way around a rosé list? Put on a piece by MDS Stripes, the two-year-old brand launched by designer Mark D. Sikes as paean to American sportswear and his favorite pattern: blue and white stripes. From the current collection, pick a skin-baring scarf top to show off a tan, or choose a roomier off-the-shoulder style to throw on after the pool.
It doesn't get any more authentic than this Normandy brand, which began making Breton shirts back in the 1800s, drawing from the signature aesthetics of the French navy and local fishermen. Today, you can also scoop up its classic designs at J.Crew, with whom it has an ongoing collaboration.
Another French favorite, this label was founded in 1938 and is well known for its high-quality knits. Don't be afraid to raid the men's section—most of the designs are unisex.