Jun 232015
 

We are back with a very few updates and a look at the history of a classic style the Duchess favors.

Our first update involves a very brief story in The Daily Mail reporting Kate and William will be attending Wimbledon next week. The information has not been confirmed. If it turns out to be true it’s unlikely there will be any announcement until the morning of the event. Should it be confirmed we will post on our Very Latest page, as well as adding it to Kate’s Calendar.

Next, the ‘mystery jeans’ Kate wore to the Festival of Polo on the 14th of this month. With thanks to everyone who shared input here via a comment or email, as well as on the WKW Facebook page, we are going to leave that topic as it stands, with no specific resolution. My instinct says they are by Topshop and the company simply isn’t claiming them, but it’s entirely possible they are from another brand. Since I wrote this we have an update: Topshop now ackowledges the jeans are their merchandise.

©James Whatling/Splash News

©James Whatling/Splash News

The company confirmed this to Monique Jessen of People magazine; more from Monique’s story about the jeans:

The confusion stemmed from Kate’s cleverly disguised waistband.

“We didn’t realize that she was wearing maternity jeans,” a spokesperson for Topshop tells PEOPLE. “An older style of these maternity jeans were sent to Kate when she was pregnant with Prince George and she is re-wearing them.”

It’s nice to have that topic resolved. Our thanks to Simon Perry and Monique Jessen of People for their tenacity on this one, many an email went winging across the Atlantic as we tried to sort out whose jeans they were. A Tip of the Tiara also to Ashley Marie for noting that I used the wrong Leigh photos in the June 14th post, and for her link to the older photos of the Leigh. (She, like myself and others, believed the jeans were this Topshop pair.) 

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Next, Kate’s jeans from ME + EM. Sunday’s Telegraph has an excellent story focusing on ME + EM.

Last week, at ME+EM’s store, tucked away in chi-chi Connaught Street behind Marble Arch, the label’s founder Clare Hornby was still reeling from the ‘crazy’ impact on sales. ‘Overnight, it’s an international business – this past week 40 per cent of our sales have come from overseas; Japan, Australia, America’.

The £48 ‘Cobalt Stripe’ Breton top now has a 5k strong waiting list. The earliest dispatch date is expected to be September 23rd, but Hornby is confident her customers will wait.

Company founder Clare Hornby is also profiled in Angela Buttolph’s article. Ms. Hornby spoke about denim the Duchess has ordered from the company, the High Rise Skinny Jeans.

Hornby’s only disappointment: missing out on a head-to-toe ME+EM outfit on the Duchess. She shows me a pair of the High Rise Skinny Jeans ,‘we stitch the inside edge of pockets to the zip so they stay smooth across the front’, darker shading runs down the side of each thigh for a slimming effect.

‘She ordered these in a size 27 [inch waist]…

Below we show them in the Dark Rinse, but they’re available in a variety of colors and rinses.

ME + EM

ME + EM

The Telegraph piece also offers Ms. Hornby’s tips on “How to Dress Yourself Slim.”

One note for bargain hunters fond of ME + EM’s look: the label has an outlet page I was unaware of until today. Below we show a few items from the outlet section of the site, beginning with the Tailored Bodycon Dress in black on the left, (originally £128/$200, now £38.40/$60), then the Chunky Engineered Jumper in a cotton/cashmere blend in the middle (originally £128/$200, now £68/$100), and on the right we show ME + EM’s Fit and Flare Dress in deep peacock (originally £168/$265, now £50.40/$80).

ME + EM

ME + EM

Updating the availability of Kate’s cobalt blue Breton stripe top, the piece is now slated to ship September 25th.

ME + EM

ME + EM

Val, who has been fabulous in posting comments with updated info from her ME + EM email, notes the cobalt white version of the top is now slated for shipping on or before August 19th.

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The striped tops at ME + EM offer the perfect segueway to our quick backgrounder on the style. Believe it or not, the style was initially mandated by law back in 1858. The Navy Wear Act ordered they be worn by French Navy seamen; it was believed the shirts would make it easier to spot men in the water who fell overboard, the tops became part of the official uniform for French sailors. Initially the shirts had a specific number of stripes, 21; that is one stripe for each of Napoleon’s victories.

Saint James was the first company to manufacture the shirts. Here is the Saint James Binic II sweater, released in 1889.

Wiki Fashion

Wiki Fashion

Below, the company’s factory in 1900.

Saint James

Saint James

The design became increasingly popular over the years, migrating from a nautical standard to a fashion favorite. Below, Coco Chanel wearing a Breton stripe.

Wikimedia Creative Commons

Wikimedia Creative Commons

More about the French designer’s appreciation of the style from Wiki Fashion:

Inspired by sailors, after a visit to the French coast, Coco Chanel introduced the design to the fashion world through her nautical collection in 1917. The Breton top became a symbol of haute-bourgeois loveliness during the pre-war Riviera years.

And from blogger Carly Tati:

This must have been amusing to the sailors and workers of France to see the beautiful and stylish Chanel donning what was typically a man’s work shirt in such a fashionable way.

The style remained popular with celebrities, below you see Audrey Hepburn wearing Breton stripes in 1955.

There is a photo montage here showing Pablo Picasso, Ms. Hepburn and Coco Chanel wearing the stripe. Celebrities from James Dean to Alexa Chung have been photographed sporting the style, it remains a favorite of the fashion crowd still today.

Saint James has remained in business, more from the company’s website:

Its fame is based upon a cult item of clothing “the genuine pure new knitted woolen Breton seaman’s sweater”. Originally intended for deep sea fishermen, then adopted by known seafarers, and amateur yachtsmen.

Its pure wool, pure cotton, “seashore” lines attract a large clientele on the coast, but also in the major cities of France, and equally throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, and Japan.

Below, Saint James tops being steamed before shipment and the crew of the 1997 America’s Cup contender Enterprise, outfitted in shirts from Saint James.

Saint James

Saint James

Back to the company’s history:

With such thick and tight knitwear, they are considered almost waterproof… Knitted very close to the body, this sweater becomes “the seafarers’ second skin”.

Saint James still offers the shirt today, in a variety of models.

Saint James USA

Saint James USA

In Women’s styles we show the brand’s Mediterranee ($109), the Etrille ($81), and the Minquiers 10 ($75).

Saint James

Saint James

Below, the Naval II ($135) and Naval II Rouge ($145), both are mens/unisex styles.

Saint James

Saint James

There is a Saint James for J Crew collection. This is the Short Sleeve Slouchy Tee ($89) and Long Sleeve Slouchy Tee ($90).

J Crew

J Crew

Below, the Nauplie wool sweater from that J. Crew collection, it is $299.

J Crew

J Crew

Other sites offering French-made nautical merchandise include the Brittany Boutique and the UK’s Nautical Company.

There is also a standard J Crew version priced at $39.99, with an additional 40% off that price through June 23rd at midnight. (Use promo code DAYTWO for the additional 40% off the price.)

J Crew

J Crew

Of course, similar items can be purchased at a lower price via a broad variety of online sites, as well as brick and mortar stores. Below, a women’s style from LL Bean, on sale for $22.46; it is the French Sailor’s Shirt, 3/4 Sleeve Boatneck, offered in good, basic colors. Our thanks to Laura for her comment noting these were available and Sarah’s suggestion as well.

LL Bean

LL Bean

The shirt also comes in colors some might consider more fashion-forward. These styles are also on sale for $22.46.

LL Bean

LL Bean

Other women’s styles in the distinctive stripe at LL Bean include a Quarter Zip Pullover ($29.96) and Textured French Terry Pullover ($33.71).

Lands’ End carries a women’s 3/4 Sleeve Button Boatneck in a thinner stripe ($19.99), Breton Stripe Top ($13.99) , and men’s Seaworn Indigo Stripe Tee ($24.99).

Lands' End

Lands’ End

The style is actually offered at quite a few retailers, with a broad range of prices. The trick is to find one with the fit you like, at a quality level you are comfortable with, in a price range meeting your budget.

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Finally today, good news from one of our favorite sponsors, Beulah London: the company is continuing its free international shipping offer for purchases £150 and above until midnight this Sunday, the 28th.  That means pieces like the Petal Shawl in blue cashmere and rayon, flower spirits blush silk chiffon and red silk chiffon (£175, about $275 at today’s exchange rates), ship free.

Beulah London

Beulah London

There are new spring and summer styes at Beulah, in soft shades of cotton candy colors. From left to right we show the Elina Sleeveless Crepe Tulip Dress (£395, about $625) and Senna Jacket, both in mint (£345, about $545); on the right it’s the Senna Boxy Jacket in Dusky Pink (£345, roughly $545) atop the Ines Notch Neck Dress (£420, about $660), also in dusky pink.

Beulah London

Beulah London

Other pieces we like: the Dahlia Skirt with Dupioni Tie in an elegant black (£450, about $700) and Belle Pleated Chiffon Skirt (£295, approximately $465).

Beulah London

Beulah London

There are many other new styles at Beulah, click here to have a look.

 Posted by at 9:01 pm

  27 Responses to “Mystery Jeans Revealed, About Those Breton Stripes, & Other Updates”

  1. If it’s any help, I asked Google what the measurements for a size 12 in Britain were. This answer came up (which I don’t think helped!):
    “All sizes of jeans have an official waist size, for example, a size 8 is 26″ waist, a size 10 is 28″ waist and so on. However, most jeans don’t sit on the waist they sit on the hips (Named “Low Rise” or “Hipster” jeans). So the actual hip measurements is usually 2 inches bigger than the waist size.”hip
    This would mean an adult woman’s hips are 28 inches, impossible (at normal weight & heights anyway)! Men’s jeans yes, but weren’t these Top Shop Jeans maternity? Not men’s then.
    Two different sizing charts I googled said the UK sizing for a size 12 is 8 or 10, I believe it is the size 8 as the U.S. is 4 inches lower than the UK. So much inaccuracy.
    The UK sizing used to be that the waist was 10 inches less than the bust & the hips 2 inches larger, so the vital statistics for a size 12 would have been 34, 24, 36 when I was young. However, the factory templates were changed in recent years to reflect the fact that women no longer wore a corset constricting the waist to an hourglass figure.
    I suggest that either Kate’s jeans had an expanding (maternity) waist to 27 inches or that the low rise measurement makes it higher, in any case, I think it is her hips that are not wide, not that her waist is small, so all in all, this sounds about right.
    The only thing I don’t like is, allegedly, that personal info has been given out. This should be private & if proven true, I shall not shop there again!

  2. I don’t like those jeans, or any skinny jeans for that matter, even on Kate. I think she looked so much better in boot cut jeans (look back at old photos from ~ 2007/2008). Boot cut jeans are still in style and flatter most figures.

  3. What about the earrings that she was wearing on the queens birthday…does anybody know anything about them?

  4. I love the mint Tulip Dress on the far left. I can see Kate wearing it.

  5. This was a very enjoyable article to read! I love French sailor tops. I think they have entered the realm of classic casual wear. I own LL Bean tops and like the quality. Boden also has cute Breton stripe tops. There’s lots to choose from in the stores right now. Stripes are IN.

  6. Slightly appalled that ME+EM would reveal waistband size for *any* customer. Though I swear I am laughing a bit because hahahaha for all they know Kate ordered those for someone else as a gift and was never going to wear them. Why do I have a feeling we are going to see Pippa in these instead.

  7. Love that photo of Coco Chanel. She was impossibly chic. In that photo she is wearing a man’s pant and top and she looks amazing. If it wasn’t for that little thing during WWII, I would be a real fan. As it is, I prefer early Chanel.

    I have always loved stripes whether they were In or Out at that moment, doesn’t matter. And polka dots. Love them. Personally, I prefer a looser top because I don’t like anything tight but the Breton top I currently have is more fitted than I like. I might buy one from the men’s department next time.

    As for Kate’s jeans . . . why so much interest in which ones they are? All of her jeans look the exact same so what difference does it make what brand. I personally would like to see her in different pants or a pretty maxi dress. But, jeans are her uniform and she does look good in them, so, there’s that. Last month, when the weather changed, I decided I could not bare to pull on another pair of jeans so I bought a boatload of pretty maxi dresses and skirts with pretty tops. I feel much cooler in the 90 degrees we’ve been having lately.

    • Thanks for the update on the top — I’d assumed Chanel would be wearing her own version. Looks like I’ll have to put her ‘impossibly chic’ down to good photography and styling. Had forgotten the small matter of WWII — dodgy business indeed. Her clothes are still lovely!

  8. This fashion history post is quite a lot of fun. I LOVE the photo of Chanel in her Breton top, and I must say I felt quite like Audrey Hepburn the other night, wearing my recently-purchased J Crew version (the one with the beaded seams that I mentioned the other day), jeans, and ballet flats, to my favorite Thai restaurant. Well, actually, I’m not the heartbreaking beauty she was, but still….

    We should have more of this, though I hesitate to burden our already hard-working Admin with more research tasks. Let’s see: how about the history of high heels, including platforms and wedges? Louis XIV anyone?

    • And the Chinese chopine…

      • Hmm, I’ll have to find out what the Chinese called them. I’ve seen some spectacular Manchu-era versions.

        They do date back eons. Even the Greeks and Romans (and possibly the Egyptians) wore early versions of high heels and platform shoes to protect their feet from the dirt and noxious substances in the streets of ancient cities.

        • Hadn’t come across the avoiding of muck reason — had rather taken it as a means of limiting freedom of movement for women. Perish the thought they should want to escape the cares of domesticity!

          • The Manchu in China thought they produced a rather enticing walk — better than achieving it via foot-binding, which really did confine women to the home. The Manchu didn’t bind.

            Such shoes were apparently called “hua pen di,” if I have the Pinyan transliteration right. That meant “flower pot shoes,” a reference to the shape.

          • Thanks for the update. I suspect that might be a male version of ‘enticing’ walk though — something tells me they weren’t in favour of women athletes. As you say, at least they avoided the dreaded bound feet.

  9. So glad we have completion on the jeans ID. It made me smile when I saw this weeks’ Hello magazine as after our discussion here it was so obvious how too big the jeans were on Kate. I wondered whether they just happened to be the nearest ones to hand when she came to get ready and this was the day they decided they would no longer fit,

    Thanks so much for the comprehensive round-up of all things Breton. It’s such a classic style that most of us must have owned examples of it all our lives. This, however, is definitely the season for those of us who are especially fond of it to stock up.

    Let’s face it, people, this is the perfect top to match the artisan-chic of denim jeans. I don’t believe that Chanel version went anywhere near a working fishing boat!

    Thanks too for those pretty Beulah picks, they look just right for Kate.

  10. Thanks for a great post! I really like the historical background on the Breton stripes. It’s always interesting to see how things that were originally designed for practicality become known to us as a “fashion statement”. Very interesting.

  11. No way Kate is a size 27 jeans. That is the size I wear, and although I’m slim, I am DEFINITELY more “hippy” and broader and definitely several sizes larger than she is…

  12. Hi Susan,

    I’m wondering if you could pretty please clarify Topshop’s statement in regards to their sending HRH the jeans? I was under the impression she didn’t receive gifts of this sort.

    Thanks so much for the wonderful post, as always. I love the Beulah skirts you picked to feature!

    • Hi Cathie, so glad you liked the post, thank you. :)
      I am traveling today but will try and get the clarification, that’s a good question to ask. My guess is they were simply referring to an order that way, or a number of things were sent over ‘on spec’ (my term) per a request from Rebecca or Natasha, Kate kept what she liked, a bill was sent for those items, and it was paid. But I will check as soon as I can, it’s always good to clarify this sort of thing. :)

      • Hi, I too would be keen to know this as there have been several mentions of companies stating they’d sent her “xyz…” Even if they were scouted out for her by her PA or friend and sent via that friend for Kate…and a discount or freebie was given to this person…it seems a roundabout way of Kate receiving a gift. Also, I can’t imagine they don’t work out cut prices with certain labels…deals…like S Burton…or her friendship with the owners of Beulah. I wonder if they choose just not to talk about it, Kate doesn’t see the bill, and it is truly unknown to her the price paid…but, I would like to know the truth since she and Clarence House have been so adamant…it would make me feel…well, misled! Cheers!

  13. If you order a St. James top, please know that the classic men’s top is a substantial cotton. I love mine, but it ‘s too hot to wear above 80F. However, there is a lighter weight version available directly from St. James (J. Crew doesn’t stock it).

    A size 27 jeans! I was a 25 in junior high school. I’m Kate’s height and have never been that thin since. Goodness, she’s a slim
    girl.

    • I am disappointed that they would reveal her size, it seems unprofessional and indiscreet.

      • I agree about it being disappointing that they would reveal her size! If I were her, the fact that they would tell the world my size would make me not want to order from them again. I’m surprised they wouldn’t keep it a secret for that same reason.

        • I couldn’t agree more, the Royal family value discretion and it’s likely that the Duchess no longer goes to Richard Ward’s salon because he spoke to the press so much about having her as a client.

          The designers she wears most often, such as McQueen and Temperley, are all very private about her and this is probably why she continues to buy from them!

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