Current fashion or patriotism?

<A top with blue and white stripes for sale in a French shop>My favourite French friend, who introduces herself as Lilly to non-French people to save them from trying to pronounce Aurélie, visited recently. She arrived in a blue and white-striped long-sleeved top — her current favourite. She brought a box of chocolates from Alençon in Normandy, where she grew up. She would have brought Camembert cheese, but I always rib her about it tasting the same as Brie. She goes all Normandy-proud every time I give her the bait. She knows I’m fishing for her to bite, but she can’t resist.

Anyway, this blog entry isn’t about Normandy. It’s about Frenchness. Or fashion. Or patriotism. Or maybe all three of those things. Because Lilly’s pride of all things from Normandy is what most of us typically feel about our home towns and countries. Is this why her white towel also has blue stripes? Like her top? Is it patriotism? She protested when I asked her, saying blue and white stripes are in fashion.

And Lilly might be right. We went shopping in Annecy. At H&M, I counted 27 varieties of blue and white-striped tops in the women’s section alone. Ten would be a lot, but almost triple that figure is surely overkill! Other clothes shops stocked similar tops, but on a much smaller scale.Is this merely a fashionable trend this year, or do the French truly wear blue and white stripes as naturally as they say ‘oh la la‘?

I think it’s a patriotic statement, but maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?

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I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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19 comments on “Current fashion or patriotism?
  1. Michelle says:

    I think it’s a fashion, but I live in Brittany so it’s perfectly normal here. I also have to say I love them! Kiabi might give H&M a run for their money on the number of tops, I’ll count next time and let you know!!

  2. I think it’s fashion – I bought a blue striped blazer in U.S. last year. Nevertheless, it does make me feel very Frenchie Frenchie when I wear it around town! 🙂

  3. Wendy says:

    Michelle, please do! This could be the start of a bad habit for me, counting stripey tops in different shops!

    Breadispain, I love the term ‘Frenchie Frenchie’ 😀

  4. Lilly says:

    Mademoiselle Wendy ,First Camembert is definitly not the same as Brie!!! And now I am living in Bretagne in Brest (Normandie’s best neighbour) by the sea and when I wear my blue and white stripes , I feel like a Sailor…
    Bon vent marin d’eau douce! 😉

  5. Lilly says:

    Blue en white stripes “top”… Not easy to wrtie in english

  6. Wendy says:

    Lilly, now I’m not sure whether to get you a beret for your birthday or a sailor’s hat. What shall it be? ‘Top’ is very Australian I think. It’s really general and can cover t-shirts, shirts and jumpers. Other options are ‘jersey’ and ‘long-sleeved t-shirt’. Looking forward to eating some Brie err I mean Camembert with you.

  7. Vanessa says:

    How about ‘fashionable patriotism?’ I love these stripey tops and whenever I wear my black & white one, I do ‘feel’ French in it and I know, at least one person will say the Marcel Marceau do your mime spiel. I think this whole look is so synonymous with France, it’s a given that people will automatically think Frenchie! Not such a bad thing as it does look very chic :o)

  8. Steph says:

    Stripes seem to be in this year so these traditional tops should do well. I think they’re smart but I don’t tend to wear white-based clothes, not with a farm to run!

  9. Wendy says:

    Vanessa, anyone needing fancy dress has it sorted with the Marcel Marceau connection! Vive le France, eh? Steph, I’m not a white wearer either. Random blotches/drinks are attracted to my white clothes. 🙂

  10. Lesley says:

    I wore my Blue on White striped top, bought in UK, on hols. in France many years ago. Having had my photo taken beside a beautifully barked tree I got home and when I saw the snap had to ask ‘ Who is the fat woman in front of that tree?’ Since then I have lost some weight and thrown away the top.

  11. Sally says:

    It’s fashion, Wendy! I’ve just been clothes shopping in Brighton (UK) & every shop from M & S to the really high end places is full of blue & white striped T shirts & tops. It’s quite hard to find anything else!

  12. Wendy says:

    Lesley, I did have a blue and white striped top many years ago in Melbourne which I inherited off my mum – who bought it in France in the 70s! I’ve no idea where it is now, but maybe I should be wearing if what Sally says is true. Bonjour Sally! I hope you’re well. It’s a relief to hear this trend isn’t just happening in France!

  13. J.Elsdon says:

    It’s a fashion classic – indemodable! Voila,a timeless piece whether you wear it Jean Paul Gaultier style or Chanel style, dressed up or down, it’s here to stay. Normandy connections aside, it’s very French chic. I like them, actually might get myself down to H&M to check out their 17 variations! Shall I pick one up for you too Wendy?

  14. Wendy says:

    TWENTY-SEVEN variations, in fact, Ms Elsdon! There are also plenty at Mango to choose from. I’d look more like a sailor than chic so I’ll leave the fashionista look up to you I reckon.

  15. chickster says:

    I’m pretty sure I bought that exact shirt at Camaieu (and one in blue with red stripes – just can’t help myself!).

  16. Wendy says:

    chickster, that is indeed a photo I snapped in Camaieu, and they did have some other colours going on too. Maybe I should give in and get one too.

  17. Bex says:

    And who wouldn’t be proud of Normandy?! I was at Mont St Michel last weekend and it’s BEAUTIFUL! Full of shops selling only stripey tops too 😀

    J’adore Bretagne et Normande !!

  18. joana says:

    It’s fashion for sure. These girlish style is circulating here in Greece for two years now. Personally I adore stripes (in white fond) in all colors possible but at least here you can find them only in blue, black and red.

  19. Wendy says:

    Bex, I also love Le Mont St Michel! I’m just not convinced about the difference between Brie and Camembert.
    Joana, there are more colours coming through now, so I think you’re right – it must be fashion. Phew!

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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