Nautical and Nice - une femme d'un certain âge

Nautical and Nice

Can une femme call ’em or what? According to this article in The Wall Street Journal, “sailor shirts” are poised to be one of 2010’s hottest trends. (h/t to Frugal Scholar from comments here, thanks Frugal!)

Fashion lines from Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci to Esprit and Comptoir des Cotonniers are bringing out the nautically inspired stripes for spring women’s wear, and menswear designers including Michael Bastian and Burberry Brit are also going with the look. It’s based on the boat-necked French marine pullover, which is traditionally worn by low-ranking sailors as they swabbed the decks and hence known in France as a marinière, or sailor-style, shirt.
This cyclical interest has long been a boon to Saint James, the French company that has made marinière shirts and sweaters since roughly 1850*. It makes a variety of styles for men, women and kids today, but the traditional men’s sweaters come in two versions: The trim one known as the “matelot” is priced at $170. The “binic” is more generously cut “for if you enjoy life—if you are a little fat,” explains the French Manhattan store manager, Brian Lebretton. It’s priced at $215.

The slideshow that accompanies the article also illustrates that women with curves can wear these tops and look good (see esp. Elizabeth Taylor pic).

I ordered two different marinière tops, one from LL Bean, featured in last week’s post, and one of the Saint James tops (this one, the “Huitriere“) from I chose this style over the “traditional” one for the 3/4 sleeves and shorter length, and I’m happy with this choice. The fit is good, not too snug or baggy, and it seems to be a very well made piece. The fabric is sturdy, 95% cotton/5% elastane. This top is a good length for me at 5’1″, so might appear more cropped on someone taller. Though pricewise it’s not cheap, it’s not anywhere near as expensive as some of the “designer” versions, and feels hefty enough to last. Here’s the Saint James “Huitriere” top, styled for lunch with La Belette Rouge.

I’ll post a review and pics of the LL Bean top next week.

*Had the article’s author taken a moment to look at the label or tag on the sleeve, she would’ve seen “depuis 1859.

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  1. Maravonda
    January 8, 2010 / 2:10 pm

    Pseu, you look great! I think you wondered a few posts back if the look would suit you…you put it together beautifully for your body and style, so chic!

  2. January 8, 2010 / 2:57 pm

    That is such a great look—you did a great job with it. It’s universally flattering. I love the 3/4-sleeve version, personally.

    Happy New Year!

  3. January 8, 2010 / 3:02 pm

    You look great! I have not ventured out to the boutique that sells Saint James to check on their nautical tops, last season the had soft pink and soft grey…I did buy the marine navy cotton sweater which I must say is stellar! Let us see that SJ top Please!
    After your post I purchased a nautical stripe V neck 3/4 sleeve Jones of NY tee, with skinny stripes as recommended via comments and posts! I am wearing it today…

  4. January 8, 2010 / 4:04 pm

    I think the styling you’ve got going makes this look work for you!

    I’m another one who generally avoids boat- and crewnecks because of the blockiness-of-torso/bust factor. When you have it on alone do you feel it’s too much of a good thing?

  5. January 8, 2010 / 4:21 pm

    You go girl, call those trends:)

  6. January 8, 2010 / 4:26 pm

    Last summer I was looking to replace some favourite nautical-style T’s and finding them scarce (especially because I really prefer something with a V-neck and, of course, most of them have the boat neck or crew, less flattering on me). I should find it easier this year — I’ve already seen the Tory Birch fall/winter weight incarnation on sale, and BR has a kangaroo-pocketed fine-wool riff on the theme that I might go back and look at. And now all the links you’ve provided — ah, temptations vs. resolutions, one of January’s perennial dilemmas. . .

  7. January 8, 2010 / 4:57 pm

    I’m really glad I picked out a couple on sale at Talbot’s last year–now I’m ready.

    There was a gorgeous Stella version on Marcy Tilton’s site recently. Will send you a link this weekend.

  8. January 8, 2010 / 5:39 pm

    You look charming!

    Though I posted on Breton shirts in May 09, (“Hey Sailor”) didn’t see it as a trend, just an enduring great product. Still prefer the shirt on Le Duc versus on me; a man in a Breton shirt is dead sexy.

  9. January 8, 2010 / 5:59 pm

    Good Life in VA – actually we had lunch yesterday, and as with every lunch with La Belette Rouge, it was delightful. Your coat sounds fabulous! I bought a vintage mink short coat last year from Couture Allure, and feel so decadent glam when I wear it.

    Arabella – here’s my take on trends….it you love something, wear it regardless. And use “trends” as an opportunity to stock up. That was my approach when it came to leopard print. At first I was bummed to see “my thing” everywhere, but now that the trend seems to be waning again, I have lots of lovely pieces to carry me through.

  10. January 8, 2010 / 6:02 pm

    Maravonda – thanks! I was surprised and pleased to find this shirt was more flattering than I’d expected.

    Sal – thanks you. A scarf is a great way to mitigate the boatneck for those of us with a larger bust.

    Tessa Scoffs – oh, that’s one I haven’t seen yet but want to see. And yes with the denim or navy slacks…can’t go wrong!

  11. January 8, 2010 / 6:05 pm

    sisty – one way I break up the expanse of fabric on boat/crew necks is with a scarf or longer layered necklaces. I’d love to find one of these shirts in a V-neck style too.

    end – thanks! I’m a nut for 3/4 sleeves. 😉

    hostess of hb – thank you! I’m glad you found one you like, will have to check out the Jones NY version for a v-neck.

  12. January 8, 2010 / 6:10 pm

    Ahoy! and alas. Miss J adores this look on Audrey, but doesn’t think she can pull off the bateau neck. You know, the Girls, and all. Maybe a scoop neck.

  13. January 8, 2010 / 6:11 pm

    Vix – thank you! I generally try to break up my boatnecks either with a sweater or vest worn open, or a scarf or long layered necklaces. I find if you add some other “lines” or points of interest in that area, it does the trick.

    LPC – Actually I think “A Femme” and Duchesse beat me to it, but I’m always amused when something I’ve latched onto gets its turn in the fashion spotlight.

    materfamilias – I know, they’re all tempting! The boatneck version isn’t bad…just saying.

  14. January 8, 2010 / 6:15 pm

    Nancy – I keep hoping Talbot’s will do more cotton versions…

    Frugal Scholar – you’re very welcome!

    Leanne – wow, at the first link the shirts seem to be made to order. Cool!

    Duchesse – yes, your post was one of those that planted this seed. I was trying to find it for my original piece, but my search skills weren’t up to the task. I had bookmarked the Brittany Boutique, however, which came in handy!

  15. January 8, 2010 / 6:18 pm

    Duchesse – I wish I could get Mr. Pseu to wear one, but he’s not going there.

    metscan – chacun a son gout, I always say! I feel about polka dots the way you do about navy stripes…better on children.

    Miss Janey – you might be surprised…actually I think the strips have a bit of camouflaging effect.

  16. The Good Life in Virginia
    January 8, 2010 / 1:41 pm

    have a fab lunch! lucky you. and where might you be lunching at? do tell us.

    was perusing the tops but…have not made a decision…to buy or not to buy.

    right now i am thinking of how to dress appropriately for the 18 degree weather we’re having. layers…layers and more layers. oh, i did recently purchase a full length black mink coat (vintage)…it is beautiful and oh so warm. while i may be a bit over the top in this environment, it works for me. my heart still cries for LA and dressing with some PZAZZ!

  17. Arabella
    January 8, 2010 / 2:02 pm

    I bought a 100% cotton, sanely priced one from Lands End eight years ago and still wear it – hasn’t faded or shrunk. Twenty odd years ago I used to wear ones from the Breton Shirt Co, good but they were a little long. I don’t know if either of these are still produced.

    Your post dismayed me a bit! Breton shirts have been a staple of my wardrobe for decades but if they are going to be everywhere for a couple of years, I might have to fold mine a way for a season or two. And that’s annoying!

  18. Sal
    January 8, 2010 / 2:36 pm

    I’ve thrifted a 3/4 sleeve J.Crew and a short-sleeved Gap nautical stripe top, and now I’m glad I’ve held onto them! You look just lovely in yours, lady. The scarf is a fabulous touch.

  19. ~Tessa~Scoffs
    January 8, 2010 / 2:43 pm

    Love it! Rachel Weisz also wore one under a trench in “The Brothers Bloom”. Love the look with navy slacks or denim.

  20. sisty
    January 8, 2010 / 2:56 pm

    I have a 3/4 sleeve, deep v-neck (both front and back) Ralph Lauren t-shirt I’ve had for several years now. The problem with this look is the neckline — boatnecks can be tricky, and crewnecks are definitely out for a busty person such as myself. On mine the blue and white stripes are the same width, which I like.

  21. January 8, 2010 / 10:57 pm

    I thought of you the minute I saw the story!

  22. Frugal Scholar
    January 8, 2010 / 5:03 pm

    Glad to help! Thanks for the mention.

  23. metscan
    January 8, 2010 / 6:01 pm

    I still have my jailbird fantasy of the nautical stripes. Please take no notice of this, it is only my personal opinion. Stripes look really cute on children though btw.

  24. Anonymous
    January 9, 2010 / 3:12 pm

    tres chic!! love the top on you — and eager for your review of the llbean top, as I have been eyeing it along with the sailor scarves.

  25. laurieAnn
    January 10, 2010 / 7:02 pm

    Pseu: You look fantastic! You have absolutely sold me on the style you are wearing. I’m also in the 5′ 1″ range so the shorter style would work well for me. I am so glad that you found a few styles to work with your figure. What a great feeling that is!

  26. Sher
    January 12, 2010 / 1:42 am

    Encouraged by you….I got both styles 😉 Won’t post till it gets warmer though. Saving them for spring.

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