A childhood trip to Europe was the beginning of stylist Marguerite Berkeley’s love of French fashion. At the age of 12, she and her family spent a year and a half travelling through France, Spain, Malta and England.
For a young girl from The Gap with a penchant for fashion, this experience changed her life.
“My whole world opened up,” says Marguerite. “I saw colours and garments I’d never seen before.”
It’s no surprise that Marguerite was drawn to collecting, curating and styling pre-loved French Breton tops, a passion that has become a successful business.
Once garments worn by sailors, today the striped Breton top is a staple in wardrobes all over the world.
“It was a fisherman’s jumper, a handmade knitted garment,” says Marguerite. “Because it was woollen, it kept the fishermen warm.”
Sailors abounded in the coastal French region of Brittany; therefore, the top was called a ‘Breton’. The stripe feature was also practical – if a sailor fell overboard the distinctive pattern could easily be spotted in the waves.
The garment was also known as ‘tricot raye’ meaning striped knit and became firmly associated with the sea when it was made the official French naval uniform in 1858.
In early 2022, Marguerite started to source original, gently worn French Bretons and sell them through pop up markets in her loungeroom in Ashgrove, Brisbane.
“Most of them are particular brands, the Saint James or Armor Lux,” she says.
A regular wearer of Bretons herself, Marguerite says they are a classic.
“The eye is drawn to the stripe, visually it’s a neat look,” she says. “They suit most people – men, women and children. They come in all shapes and sizes. You think they’re just a striped shirt but they’re all different, some have wider bands, some have darker backgrounds. The nuances are immeasurable.”
A stylist by trade, Marguerite has an eye for editing clients’ wardrobes to make them simpler and more useful. While some stylists may take an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach, Marguerite’s way is thoughtful and considerate of using what is existing.
“I love the idea of gently worn fashion,” she says. “I look at the merits of each garment and see how we can rework it or if it’s time to say goodbye to it.”
“If there are gaps to be filled, I might take them shopping or suggest other items for them. I call it editing because its not getting rid of everything but you’re making it smaller and more useful.”
You can find out more about Marguerite’s style and business on Instagram.