Today’s animated Doodle celebrates the iconic French blue-and-white-striped shirt, the marinière (French for “sailor shirt”). On this day in 1858, the French Navy decreed this versatile undergarment part of the official uniform of its sailors, marking the genesis of the top’s storied journey into closets around the world.
Knit tightly from wool in order to guard seafarers against the harsh elements of their maritime environment, the marinière’s initial function is well-known. However, the significance of the sweater’s striped design is still up for debate. Some stories say the horizontal stripes were designed to make it easier to spot sailors who fell overboard, while other accounts claim that each stripe was meant to represent one of Napoleon’s naval victories over the British. Regardless of its history, there is no denying that the marinière has since transformed into an unmistakable statement of style.
In the late 19th century, the marinière began its migration from navy decks to city streets with the help of French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Frequently spotted at masked balls in Paris wearing the now-iconic striped shirt, Colette boldly broke conventional gender stereotypes and helped to pave the way for modern womenswear.
By the 1920s, bohemians, intellectuals, and fashionistas of the French Riviera had adopted the marinière, further cementing the jersey’s evolution from a staple of nautical life to a symbol of artistic chic.
From artists to movie stars, the marinière has earned countless iconic endorsements over the decades, respected and seen today as a timeless classic the world over.