Women's Sailor Shirt: How to Wear it with Style?

Timeless , iconic , emblematic of French fashion, a must-have for women's AND men's wardrobes , the striped top is both minimalist and original where the perfect fit is played out in detail. Don't be fooled by the apparent simplicity of its indigo blue horizontal stripes on a white cotton background or its comfortable fit. The classic or revisited marinière has not finished knowing the glory. How did this sailor's underwear become a timeless must-have basic for several decades? How to choose and wear your marinière according to your morphology? What accessories to add to be at the forefront of the trend thanks to this timeless piece of women's wardrobe ? We tell you everything!

Sailor top: a must-have for women's dressing

Over the years and trends in women's fashion, the classic marinière has established itself as an essential item of clothing, while reinventing itself. Oversized navy sweater or fine knit sweater, t-shirt, dress, and even shoes or handbag, blue stripes on a white background and all their variants are definitely safe bets. This striped pattern, seemingly simple, is now emblematic of French textile craftsmanship, timeless in women's and men's fashion since the 1920s. Respect!

women's sailor sweater in fine knit with long white sleeves and navy blue stripes and gold buttons - small prints - chic women's sailor eshop

White sailor shirt with navy blue stripes - Les Petits Imprimers

Part of its success is due to the fact that the sailor top can be worn by all silhouettes :

  • The A silhouette balances the width of the hips provided that the stripes start from the neckline.
  • Slim I-shaped and straight H-shaped silhouettes gain volume with horizontal stripes.
  • Your hips are balanced with your shoulders, in other words you have an hourglass morphology in X or 8 (X with shapes): everything suits you!
  • As for the voluptuous forms of round women or O morphology, opt for a blue sailor striped white to slim down.
  • Some small adaptations concern V morphologies with really broad shoulders, having a belly and/or a strong chest. Avoid stripes at the shoulders. Avoid the tight sailor top and opt for a loose or even oversized cut. Finally, you can consider the slimming white striped blue sailor top.

Learn more about your body type and recommended clothing in this special figure article .

But by the way, how did the marinière appear?

The little story of the sailor

Surprise ! The marinière is not what you think

The ancestor of the marinière appeared in the 18th century in the form of a striped blouse with a large boat neck. In underwear, crew sailors wear the striped cotton knit which was made official in the sailor's uniform in 1858 by the Official Bulletin of the Navy. Highly codified, this knit worn next to the skin must have "15 white stripes and 14 or 15 indigo blue stripes". Designed in one piece with only one seam

Adored by stars around the world from 1916 to today

Coco Chanel takes over the boat-neck blouse and popularizes it. Men's work clothes revisited to dress chic Parisian women, and this, from 1916, can you imagine?! Gabrielle Chanel really feared no challenge. And it worked ! Especially with its new, more fluid cut and the inclusion of silk in the material.

gabrielle chanel and the marinière - coco chanel and the marinière

Gabrielle Chanel wearing the marinière

Mademoiselle Chanel dared to wear striped knitwear on herself, but never featured it in her creations. Perhaps he was still too avant-garde for his time, not yet a big fan of the feminine-masculine style. On the other hand, Katharine Hepburn is the first woman to have worn it in the cinema in "Woman of The Year" (1942). Then, Brigitte Bardot, Jeanne Moreau, Catherine Deneuve, Liz Taylor and Meg Ryan among other world famous stars . More recently, Audrey Tautou in the film "Coco avant Chanel". The circle is complete !

Consecration of a wardrobe must-have

But the consecration of this timeless and essential piece of women's and men's wardrobes arose with the successive fashion shows of designer Jean-Paul Gauthier from 1983.

Since then, the French marinière has been an iconic top available in sweaters, t-shirts, dresses, polo shirts, bags and accessories, but also in other colours, particularly red and burgundy. Blue, white, red: Cocorico!

Read also: 25 timeless clothes to have style in all circumstances

The great historical names of the French marinière

Four big French names are unavoidable when it comes to the sailor top: Saint James, Le Minor, Armor Lux and Orcival (no preference, just one appearance per year of foundation).

St. James

In 1889, the Saint James spinning mill moved to the Norman village of the same name, located near Mont Saint-Michel, renowned for its ancestral know-how of spinning wool from salt-meadow sheep since the Middle Ages. From 1950 to 1970, the factory focused exclusively on the "real Breton sweater" in pure wool of the sailor type, acclaimed by sailing enthusiasts, and more broadly by all French people enjoying the seaside during their paid holidays.

The Minor

Le Minor , Manufacture de Bonneterie Lorientaise founded in 1936, is another big name in sailor tops made in France: cotton spun in the Vosges and a sailor top cut and made in Brittany.

Armor Lux

Armor Lux , the former Bonneterie d'Armor, was founded in 1938 in Quimper. Its marinières and marine clothing are labeled FairTrade / Max Havelaar and its organic cotton has been labeled Ecocert since 2009.


Orcival , the spinning mill with the famous bee crest, was founded in Paris in 1939 then moved to Lyon in 1940. A historic supplier to the French Navy, the brand advocates a pure, sober and efficient style for close-fitting marinières designed in an authentic fabric. , strong and durable.

While these big names in French textile craftsmanship continue to reinvent the marinière every year, the small striped knit is an inexhaustible source of creativity, renewal and adaptation to fashion trends, in particular thanks to the original details.

The secret of an original marinière: bet on the details

The original marinière is a long-sleeved t-shirt in white cotton, initially made of a single piece of fabric, with a straight cut, navy blue stripes and fitted with a boat neck.

Owning a 100% classic marinière is an excellent choice in a wardrobe. Choice that you can complete with a slightly more original marinière, playing with the color, the cut, the material and the addition of small details for a chic and feminine look.

For example, a slightly fitted cut, 3/4 sleeves, red or mustard yellow stripes, lace, a deep neckline in the back, embroidery, a chunky knit on an oversized sailor sweater...

Three small modern flat golden buttons for a navy blue striped sailor top reminiscent of the stripes of the navy admiral - Sailor shirt Les Petits Printed

heart-shaped sailor top with original detail - small prints - women's original sailor eshop

An original girly seamstress to wake up a classic sailor sweater (Image: Pinterest - je-fais-moi-meme.fr )

sailor top with small gold buttons, cuffs and blue, white, red stripe - small prints - eshop original sailor shirt for chic women

A blue-white-red braid and small gold buttons bring originality to the sleeves and bottom of the marinière (Image: Pinterest - mackenziehoran.com )

striped sailor neckline crossed sailor rope - small prints - original sailor eshop for women

The crossed sailor cord holds the V neckline of this sailor t-shirt (Image: Pinterest )

wrap-over sailor top in the back - small prints - women's sailor eshop

Several original details: an inverted wrap neckline in the back for this red striped sailor top with a wavy edge (Image: Pinterest - former Sézane collection)

sailor top with small gold buttons on the back - small prints - original sailor eshop for chic women

Small gold buttons light up the demure back of this classic three-quarter sleeve sailor top (Image: Pinterest - archzine )

Now, let's come to the crucial question: how to wear the marinière properly?

Look with a sailor top for women

1. Casual look with a sailor top

Striped shirt and jeans

A great love story! The jeans work beautifully with the marinière. These two basics sharing blue, white, indigo and navy tones, your outfit will be even more harmonious.

At the office, slip a white shirt underneath. Let the shirt tails hang out and roll up the sleeves to show off your cuffs and jewelry. Complement with a navy or officer wool pea coat, or a timeless beige trench coat.

casual chic women's look with a sailor top and jeans

Casual chic feminine look with a sailor top and bootcut jeans (Photo: Pinterest )

Casual look with faded boyfriend jeans or chic with slim white jeans in a cruise style, it's up to you to see according to your morphology, your tastes and the circumstances.

sailor top and white jeans cruise look - small prints - chic women's sailor sweater eshop

Like a vacation by the sea with this cruise look (Photo: Pinterest )

In summer, the jeans are shortened into shorts that we like to belt and wear with camel or nude sandals to lengthen the leg. Or in a skirt: skater, straight, in jeans, long pleated... you're spoiled for choice!

Sailor top and cigarette/carrot pants in canvas

The 7/8 canvas carrot or cigarette pants are another timeless piece to wear slightly loose for a totally relaxed look. Roll up the bottom to show the slimmest part of your leg: the ankle.

No risk of going wrong by combining these basics with other timeless ones such as the long straight blazer jacket, the beige trench coat or even the perfecto. On the shoe side: opt for derbies, ballet flats, moccasins and why not white sneakers.

sailor look and carrot pants - small prints - women's sailor sweater eshop

The casual sailor top in a chic, comfortable and relaxed look (Photo: Pinterest )

Accessorize your casual style

If the style seems a little too simple, lacking in femininity, bet on the accessories to illuminate the sailor top. A pretty long necklace, a shiny bib necklace or a small scarf tied around the neck, a pair of oversized glasses, a colorful bag and presto! Your outfit is more modern and more feminine. Add a pair of pumps, ankle boots or heeled sandals to add chic to this casual style.

sailor top and shiny bib necklace - original sailor top - small prints - women's sailor sweater eshop

A chic pair of glasses, a maxi bag and an original bib necklace: presto! The sailor look gains in originality (Image: Pinterest )

2. Sexy in a sailor top

At the office, in the evening or for a cocktail party, the fitted long-sleeved sailor top goes wonderfully with a white or navy blue pencil skirt (in keeping with the horizontal stripes).

sailor top and high-waisted pencil skirt - sexy in a chic women's sailor top

(Photo: Pinterest )

To liven up this outfit, which is certainly chic but a little sober, think of original accessories such as a beautiful pair of shoes in nude or in another color, pretty jewelry, a beautiful handbag...

Can you wear a marinière to a wedding, a baptism or any other ceremony? Sure ! Opt for a bustier sailor or a bardot sailor to bare your shoulders and add a tulle skirt in the same color as the stripes on your top.

marinière ceremonial dress - chic woman look wedding baptism

Wearing the marinière during a wedding or baptism ceremony: what a great idea (Image: Pinterest )

You get a superb and sober, glamorous, chic and refined look with just two garments (opt for quality!). A pretty pair of pumps, a sober clutch and discreet jewelry will complete your ceremonial look.

3. Sailor top and mix of prints for an original outfit

We don't necessarily think about it, but the marinière goes very well with the floral print for an original and unexpected look. The stripe being a relatively sober pattern, it allows the floral, jungle or animal pattern to express itself freely.

sailor top and colorful printed skirt - original chic woman look

Mix striped and natural prints for an original summer look (Image: Pinterest )

As in this very fresh spring or summer look, a colorful reminder in a necklace, earrings or hair accessory is welcome to energize the sailor top on your upper body.

Recreate this style with our fine-knit sailor sweater and our Mia floral skirt .

Sailor Woman: Which style do you prefer?

The marinière no longer holds any secrets for you. A two-tone key piece in the women's wardrobe, this timeless top suits all body types and can be easily combined to create a casual, chic evening look that's original for the summer. The marinière is even welcome in a wedding outfit or a look for a baptism.

Nothing stops it! And that's why we love it.

As a sweater, T-shirt, bustier or in its original classic version, the striped Breton sailor knit has evolved, adapted and been modernized on a daily basis as well as in the cinema.

If you don't have it yet, it's time to add this must-have piece to your wardrobe and have fun with all the look ideas presented in this article.