Saint James Review: High-Quality Breton Shirt

The original Breton shirt

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I love Breton shirts. Stripe shirts have been part of my wardrobe for as long as I can remember. The design is super-flattering and the traditional colors go with huge parts of my wardrobe.

Many brands sell a version of this shirt, and I’ve had plenty of them. But Saint James is a giant of the industry and claims to have made the original Breton shirt. That also means they are more expensive than ones you can get elsewhere. The question is, what do you get for the price? Find out in this Saint James Breton shirt review.

First Impressions

Saint James Meridien Shirt
Saint James Meridien shirt in reverse stripes

Saint James sells many different versions of the Breton shirt. There are ones with different shapes, thicknesses, and styles. What’s more, each type comes in multiple colors.

I personally went for a version of the shirt called the Meridien. This version has a regular fit and is made from heavier cotton than other versions of the style: perfect as it’s just coming up to fall.

About Saint James
Saint James is a French fashion brand based in Normandy. It has been making Breton shirts for over 130 years and it manufactures all the shirts in its Normandy factory. It has a small collection of other items including jackets, trousers, and accessories.

I initially wanted the classic colorway, but it was sold out. Instead, I went for a version of the shirt with the same colors in reverse order. I think it’s a nice twist on the style: I have other more traditional shirts in my wardrobe anyway.

As I mentioned, there are other styles that offer slight twists on the design. Here’s a quick rundown of what is on offer:

  • Minquiers is a straight fit shirt made from ligher cotton.
  • Guildo is made from carded cotton which gives it texture. It has a relatviely slim fit and a neckline that is cut straigher than other styles.
  • Levant is a short-sleeved version.


All Saint James Breton shirts are 100% cotton. The Meridien is made from relatively thick cotton which makes it reassuringly heavy. It’s still very soft though and feels comfortable to wear. There’s also a nice texture to the material. It clearly feels a step up in quality from the striped shirt I own from a popular high-street brand.

All the shirts are manufactured in the Saint James factory in the Normandy region of France. This gives it a high level of control over the manufacturing process which should result in high, consistent quality. The brand also has a “Living Heritage Company” label from the French Agency for Crafts and Living Heritage.

How Do Saint James Shirts Fit?

Saint James offers a huge variety of sizing options up to 4XL, although these aren’t always in stock. Each style fits slightly differently so take this into consideration.

As for the Meridien shirt: I bought a size XL. I would say it is on the large size for what I would expect for this shirt. For example, it is wider and longer than my Uniqlo Breton shirt. The sleeves are quite long, too. Although this is something I quite like as I can roll them up.

Saint James Breton Shirt Sizing
The Brdwlk

Your expectations for sizing will depend on the brands you normally buy so do some research before committing. The brand has a relatively detailed size guide on its website which should help. It also offers advice on sizing in the product descriptions for each piece. And if it all goes wrong, the company has a 30 day returns policy.

Read this article to find out how to wear a breton shirt and get outfit ideas.

Do Saint James Shirts Shrink?

All cotton shirts shrink to some extent when you wash them. My Saint James shirt shrunk a small amount. But it definitely still fits me and, more importantly, the shape hasn’t been deformed.

Saint James Breton Shirt Review: Bottom Line

Saint James shirts have a striped design that many other brands sell: often for a cheaper price. But, the company has a long history of selling this shirt. Buying one of them gives you a piece of this history.

You also get a product that is higher quality than a similar-looking shirt from high-street brands—at least the ones that I’ve tried. The material feels great and there has been little shrinkage or shape-changing even after multiple washes. If these factors are important to you, it makes investing in the shirt more than worthwhile.

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Duncan Elder

Duncan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Boardwalk. He's a menswear writer who has spent the last 15 years developing his own sense of style, which lies at the cross-section of mid-noughties indie and Uniqlo-inspired minimalism.

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