A Brief History of the Striped Sailor Tee

The striped sailor tee is a 160-year-old fashion staple that seems to never falter in its place in one’s closet. Its rich history goes far beyond Saturday morning cartoons when PopEye was kicking ass and taking names. From actual French sailors braving the ocean to the legendary Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the striped sailor tee has made itself a cornerstone in fashion.

The tee was originally made in the 1820s in order to spot sailors who have fallen overboard. The contrasted white stripes would give the search crew a distinguishing feature to look for in the ocean. The design began to be worn outside of sailing in 1846, when Queen Victoria dressed her four-year-old son, Albert Edward, in a sailor suit to board the Royal Yacht. As parents continued to dress their children in this “sea-to-land” look, swimmers integrated the style into their neck-to-knee bathing suits. Eventually, the tee went mainstream in 1917 when Coco Chanel started wearing and selling them in her shop in France. The craze for the striped sailor tee was officially on in full force. By the 1960s the sailor tee had been taken on by the rebellious and the artistic. Pablo Picasso along with Hells Angels founder Ralph “Sonny” Barger were all donning their striped sailor tees.

 Since then, the trend hasn’t seemed to let up and doesn’t look like it will anytime soon. We pay homage to this historic staple in clothing with our rendition of the striped sailor tee. We hope you enjoy!

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