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.
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.)
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.
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.
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).
Updating the availability of Kate’s cobalt blue Breton stripe top, the piece is now slated to ship September 25th.
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.
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.
Below, the company’s factory in 1900.
The design became increasingly popular over the years, migrating from a nautical standard to a fashion favorite. Below, Coco Chanel wearing a Breton stripe.
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.
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.
Below, the Nauplie wool sweater from that J. Crew collection, it is $299.
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.)
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.
The shirt also comes in colors some might consider more fashion-forward. These styles are also on sale for $22.46.
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.
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.
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.
There are many other new styles at Beulah, click here to have a look.