Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Marinières and Berets

The proverbial Frenchman wears a striped shirt, or marinière, a beret, has a bottle of wine in one hand, baguette in his armpit and a roll-up dangling from the corner of his mouth. 
These days, that picture, or caricature, is pretty much extinct, although it can be seen occasionally, staged for American tourists and holiday brochures.
The combination of the beret and marinière is more than a caricature though. The beret has been popular with sailors for centuries; for it's protective qualities, the absence of peaks and rims that could be caught in ropes or machinery, it's ease to stuff away in a pocket when not in use, etc. 
A fantastic book about French sailors wear is "Les marins font la mode", in French, but very worthwhile for non-French speakers thanks to the wealth of photographic material. 
Highly recommended and only available through

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