I mentioned yesterday that Maison Kayser’s waiters wear authentic Armor-Lux marinières, the striped shirts that are a French classic. This has to be one of the most frequently imitated styles of shirt, but the quality of the original is hard to beat. Armor-Lux has been around since 1938. The 21 stripes on the original marinière represent Napoleon’s military victories. The distinctive stripes originally served a practical purpose; if a sailor fell in the water, the shirt made him more visible so he could be plucked back to safety.
They’re manufactured in the charming city of Quimper on the Atlantic coast of Brittany. By controlling every aspect of production, from dying the thread to knitting it on huge circular machines, Armor-Lux controls the quality of the final product. Although pricier than the average knit shirt, the Armor-Lux marinière keeps its looks wash after wash. In recognition, Armor-Lux has been declared a living French heritage company by the minister of the Economy.
Made famous by such icons of style as Coco Chanel, Brigitte Bardot, and Pablo Picasso, the classic marinière is always in fashion. I even found a tribute blog just for this shirt. These days Armor-Lux also creates the uniforms for a host of French companies, as well as, of course, the Navy. Their motto is “Le luxe de la simplicité” (luh loox duh lah sim-pli-sea-tay), which means “The luxury of simplicity.”
In France, Armor-Lux products are available both in stand-alone boutiques and at major department stores like les Galeries Lafayette. One of their boutiques is right around the corner from where I work in the summer, so I’m confronted with Armor-Lux temptation on a daily basis. Now they’re also available in New York (232 Mulberry Street in Nolita). More temptation.
- Tartine (onequalitythefinest.com)
- What’s Really at the Heart of Our Striped Tee Obsession (fabsugar.com)
- The One Hundred: 83 Striped Sailor Shirt (inaworldofbees.com)
- What to wear with… a marinière (fashionmentality.com)