flipping through psychology today tends to leave me with a sense of smug vindication. there’s nothing quite like a piece on “how to spot a narcissist” or a concise “field guide to the social climber” to validate my armchair diagnoses, the ones i keep filed away on all the lowlives and nogoodniks i’ve had the misfortune of knowing over the years. still, i always knew i’d spot myself—my nasty procrastination habit, my antisocial tendencies—in one of those damning personality profiles one day, and i got what was coming to me in an article titled “field guide to the maximizer.”
latin name: selectorus neuroticus
notable characteristics: feels compelled to examine all the options before making a decision. restlessly searches for a better job, a nicer apartment, a finer mate, or a bigger bargain—or just a more interesting radio program elsewhere on the dial. frequently beset with regret and self-blame about the road not taken.
songs & calls: “let’s see what else is on right now.” “it never hurts to look.” “i won’t settle for second best.”
i’d been pegged in under a hundred words. “maximizers aren’t content with good [choices]; they want only the best, and they’re willing to go through an exhaustive (and exhausting) search to get it,” the write-up continued. if there’s a ceiling on high standards, it seemed i’d crashed through it a long time ago. of course, i’m no stranger to impulse buys, but i can’t deny my tendency to tackle certain purchases with the well-researched vigor of a lengthy term paper, practicality be damned. i decided to own it.
case in point: i suppose i’ve always been sort of on the lookout for a proper breton tee, what with the constant reminders about how “timeless” and “chic” they are, courtesy of every single fashion magazine ever. then last summer i picked up a book called éloge de la marinière: sur une idée d’armor-lux, featuring photos of everyone from maurice chevalier to marion cotillard wearing the stripes to perfection, and it was like the mission had suddenly been kicked off in earnest. since i’m only in the market for a white/navy or natural/navy stripe pattern, i had to eliminate some great cuts with the wrong color right off the bat, but after a whole lot of looking, here are the frontrunners:
1 the original breton shirt company // original breton shirt // about $47 // >>
i can’t stand being caught between a slightly too boxy men’s cut and a way too fitted women’s cut. this particular top is from the original breton shirt company’s ladies line, but “made to a relaxed square cut fit,” which is a major selling point for me.
2 saint james // guildo r a// $95 // >>
according to saint james, the guildo is a “new version of the ouessant. really similar.” fair enough, but i can’t really figure out what the difference is between the two, if any. the ouessant is unisex, which is encouraging in terms of fit, but what i love most is the neckline. there are way too many “boat necks” out there that are really nothing more than middling, elongated crew necks. this appears to have a crisp, more-horizontal-than-not neck that feels right (couldn’t find an image of my ideal colorway, but it’s in stock, at least).
3 brittany boutique // minquiers fine cotton breton sailor shirt // $42.24 // >>
first things first: the brittany boutique website is a real blast from the past, but their merchandise more than makes up for it. i’m pretty sure this is a saint james top, but there’s not much information to go on other than this hilariously retro imagery. that said, i do like what i see, namely the slouchy shoulder seam and sleeve.
4 chance // boatneck // $68 // >>
it’s difficult to tell just by looking at the picture, but it seems like the stripes on this one are a bit slim for my taste. i could be willing to make that sacrifice, though, because everything else about this top — and all of chance’s offerings, for that matter—scream “wardrobe staple” to me and i want in.
5 j.crew // saint james unisex meridien II nautical tee // $85 // >>
unisex? check. neckline? a bit round for my taste, but maybe sizing up would prove an overall remedy.
6 lands’ end // women’s regular 3/4 sleeve boatneck sailor tee // $30 // >>
it’s mostly the quarter-length sleeves that are drawing me in here, but i think i’m seeing a bit of that dreaded figure-skimming fit, unfortunately.
i’ll probably need to try a bunch of these on in person before i can make any sort of final decision, although i’m leaning towards the saint james guildo (2) at the moment.
on another note, the best thing to come out of this quest for la marinière so far has been a tumblr of the same name that popped up on one of my google searches — scrolled straight through to the end on the first visit and have been checking back in ever since.