Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Je Voudrai Une Marinière, Part Deux

My quest for a striped sailor shirt continues. Apparently everyone wants one of these, because Petit Bateau has been sold out of them all over the country for months (plenty remain in red, gold, or green, but why would you spend $88 for the wrong color?). The store on Newbury Street just received a few blue ones a couple of days ago, but the size smalls were snapped up instantly. On me, the size XS is skintight in the arms, and size M is a nightshirt. In this store, these sizes are listed as "12 Years" and "16 Years," respectively. I need a size S, but all the other 14-year-olds have already purchased my shirt.

L.L. Bean, as an alert reader has pointed out, is sold out of their cream/navy- and navy/cream-striped boatnecks until early May or mid June, depending on the size you need. I'll order one (or the other, or both if I can't make up my mind) and try to be patient. They are available in plenty of other colors, which would also be easily spotted from the deck if you fell overboard — the reasoning behind the stripes, according to French navy legend.

J. Crew had one XXS Saint James marinière, which they held for me until I got there to try it on. Not flattering. Tight in the neck, sleeves a little too short, and the body was too wide. I tried on an XS for laughs; it would have made a laughably baggy $85 beach coverup.

One detail I've noticed about the true marinière: it has very obviously dropped shoulders. Since I've been lifting weights, I find dropped shoulders constricting on my own magnificently toned shoulders. So I was secretly glad the St. James didn't fit me in other places, too.

And then, stacked on a floor-level shelf at J. Crew, I found this:

It's lightweight, slubbed cotton with charcoal-gray stripes. The fit is long and slim, and the neckline is flatteringly open, unlike some authentic marinières. Despite being an unnautical color, it has more "je ne sais quois" than any other sailor shirt I've sampled so far. It also comes in tasteful camel stripes, but the store is out of those (and has just a few gray ones). Online, all of these shirts won't be shipping until June 15. Everyone wants a marinière.

I used my husband's 15% educator discount, but even the original $36 price seemed right. Any French sailor could afford this shirt. Like the L.L. Bean shirt, this one has 3/4 sleeves — not authentic but, somehow, a little more chic.

It will tide me over nicely, until the L.L. Bean ship comes in.

If you're waiting for your marinière, too, read this and don't let the Gwyneth Paltrow reference get you down. I'm proud to say I had no idea how this stripey zeitgeist arose; I caught it purely by chance. I didn't see any marinières in Paris; all I saw were raincoats. And I haven't seen Coco Before Chanel, although I want to — but I can certainly see how it helped:

Audrey Tatou in Coco Before Chanel (AP photo).
That looks like a Petit Bateau shirt.

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