Celebrating the Marinière

Celebrating the Marinière

Celebrating the Marinière – Today’s animated Doodle celebrates the iconic French blue-and-white-striped shirt, the marinière (French for “sailor shirt”). On this day in 1858, the French Navy decreed this versatile undergarment part of the official uniform of its sailors, marking the genesis of the top’s storied journey into closets around the world. 

Knit tightly from wool in order to guard seafarers against the harsh elements of their maritime environment, the marinière’s initial function is well-known. However, the significance of the sweater’s striped design is still up for debate. Some stories say the horizontal stripes were designed to make it easier to spot sailors who fell overboard, while other accounts claim that each stripe was meant to represent one of Napoleon’s naval victories over the British. Regardless of its history, there is no denying that the marinière has since transformed into an unmistakable statement of style. 

In the late 19th century, the marinière began its migration from navy decks to city streets with the help of French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. Frequently spotted at masked balls in Paris wearing the now-iconic striped shirt, Colette boldly broke conventional gender stereotypes and helped to pave the way for modern womenswear. 

By the 1920s, bohemians, intellectuals, and fashionistas of the French Riviera had adopted the marinière, further cementing the jersey’s evolution from a staple of nautical life to a symbol of artistic chic. 

From artists to movie stars, the marinière has earned countless iconic endorsements over the decades, respected and seen today as a timeless classic the world over. 



Doodler Q&A with Hélène Leroux

Today’s Doodle was created by Brittany-based Doodler Hélène Leroux.
Below, she shares some thoughts on the making of the Doodle:

Q: What about the marinière did you find most interesting in your research?

A: This subject spoke directly to the heart, as I am originated from Brittany, which is where the marinière was invented (the shirt is also known as “breton shirt”)! I think I pretty much wore striped shirts my whole life (although not every day), and I love how it became such an iconic part of French culture but also fashion in general around the world.  

I found it very interesting that sailors used to claim that the marinière’s stripes made it easier to see men who had fallen into the sea. The original marinière shirt also had very strict rules on the number of stripes (the body was to have 21 stripes, each twice as wide as the 20 or 21 navy blue stripes).

Q: What was your creative approach for this Doodle? Why did you choose this approach?

A: The goal of a Doodle is to delight and surprise, and I always like to try and add a bit of charm and cuteness in my art. This was the perfect subject for which to do that, as I decided to have a more playful approach for this Doodle. I wanted to create a sort of illusion with the lights from the window casting striped shadows on the shirt of the character, which would eventually become the marinière shirt as he walked away. 

Since the seagull is, of course, an icon of the ocean, it was fun creating a character with a seagull head, just waking up and getting coffee in its nice Brittany house with a view of the lighthouse.

I also wanted to create a fun parallel between the character and the lighthouse, which ironically also has stripes and a hat. Stripes are everywhere!

 Q: What do you hope people will take away from this Doodle?

A: I hope this Doodle brings people delight and that it will make them want to wear their striped shirts!



Early concepts and draft of the Doodle

You can find more about Celebrating the Marinière on the official Google Doodle Page


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