How to wear Breton tops | Fashion

There is no way to say this without offending my core demographic so I’m just going to come straight out with it. I love a Breton top as much as you do, but I think it might have got a tiny bit dull. This is heresy, I know. The Breton is a proud identifier, a football shirt for people who don’t wear football shirts. It speaks of good‑but‑simple tastes. Of a set of lifestyle choices that feel like values: olive oil, Scandi noir box sets, wild swimming.

But the Breton is a victim of its own success. I feel it used to have a bit of an edge, and that has gone. In the age of holidaying in the UK, it is the pinstripe suit of north Cornwall. I’m just speaking truth to power here, so don’t shoot the messenger. To save the soul of the Breton, it’s time to jazz it up a bit.

What do you wear your Breton with? No, wait, let me guess. Is it white jeans or cropped trousers, or tailored shorts? One of the three, I’d hazard a guess. And Birkenstocks and discreet gold-hoop earrings. Am I right? We both know I’m right.

The Breton itself, you see, is absolutely fine. The Breton is golden. To rescue it from cliche, we just need to change how we wear it, that’s all. Team it with a skirt in a contrasting print, or a strong colour, rather than jeans or shorts. Or use it as a layering piece, so that only a slice is visible: a Breton stripe sleeve worn under a short sleeve or sleeveless knit always looks chic. Wear it under a bright trouser suit for a wedding guest look or oversized as a beach dress.

It could be even easier than that. You can retune the vibe of your Breton just by rethinking the accessories. Instead of those polite gold hoops, try some mismatched wonky pearl earrings. Wear the kind of holiday jewellery you would with a kaftan, somewhere hot and exotic: a tangle of necklaces or an armful of bracelets. Or maybe switch the straw hat for a tennis visor. A Breton can’t change its stripes, as the saying goes. But it can get a glow up.

Are you cross? If so, sorry. Forgive me. See you next week? I won’t declare wild swimming over or cancel your Birkenstocks. Promise.

Jess wears Breton tee and pearl heels, both her own. Skirt, £50, by 8 By Yoox, from Styling: Melanie Wilkinson, assisted by Peter Bevan. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using GHD and Tom Ford beauty