Style Crush: Jean Seberg

In a week when I posted about my Breton-inspired Deer and Doe Plantain t-shirt and The Foldline blogged about the history of the Breton top, I thought I would write a post in homage to one of the early adopters of the Breton top as a fashion item (rather than an part of naval uniform): Jean Seberg.

circa 1965: Promotional portrait of American actor Jean Seberg (1938 - 1979) sitting barefoot and cross-legged on a stool, wearing rolled blue jeans and a French-striped sailor jersey pulled off one shoulder. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(image source)

I didn’t really know much about Jean Seberg before I decided to write this post and I’ve only seen her on one film — The Mouse That Roared (not one of her classic French New Wave movies!). She does were a Breton top in it though!

Jean Seberg mouse that roared(image source)

Jean Seberg was born in Iowa and made her first film, Saint Joan, in 1957, having been picked from a huge open casting. She got fairly terrible reviews in this, and her next film, Bonjour Tristesse, and it was really The Mouse That Roared that was her first success, in 1959. It was her next film, Breathless (in French À bout de souffle) directed by Jean-Luc Godard, which was her first critical success and marked her as a good actress and the herione of French New Wave cinema.

DIRECTINPUT~ This image has been directly inputted by the user. The photo desk has not viewed this image or cleared rights to the image. Fall Fashion trends(image source)
Bonjour Tristesse

She was one of the earlier wearers of the pixie crop and as I was researching photos for this post, I definitely found myself looking at her hair as much as at her clothes! She also wore more minimal, natural make-up than was usual at the time. I love her relaxed style. Although I’m quite vain, I think I’m also quite low maintenance at heart. I’m also lazy, so having short hair I can wash and leave is great for me!

Jean Seberg chunky jumper(image source)

Jean Seberg Coat(image source)

I love the chunky jumper and cigarette trousers combo, and this slouchy coat is amazing! If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll probably have picked up on the fact that I’m drawn to the 60s the most as a decade for fashion and style.

Jean Seberg even looked great a bit later in the 60s, which slightly grown out hair.

Jean Seberg yellow top
(image source)

Jean Seberg longer hair
(image source)

I love the yellow of the dress (assuming it is a dress) above – I wish I could see more of it. It’s amazing to see how many of the vintage sewing patterns I have have similar tops to the one she’s wearing above – maybe I’ll recreate it one day!

Her life wasn’t all making films, however. She gave financial support to several groups in the late 60s which the US government did not like: the NAACP, and the Black Panther Party were the most famous. The FBI, therefore, decided to harass, defame, intimidate and discredit Seberg. The idea was to discredit her with the public and the film industry so her voice would have less weight and fewer opportunities to be heard. In 1970 she was expecting a baby with her then husband, Romain Gary, but the FBI released a story saying the father was Raymond Hewitt, a member of the Black Panther Party. Seberg went into premature labour and the baby died 2 days later. She blamed the stress of the gossip columns printing the FBI’s story for the premature birth and death of her child. At the funeral she had an open casket for the child so people could look and see that she was white. The FBI was regularly wire-tapping her phone, stalking her and breaking into her homes. Apparently Richard Nixon was kept personally up to date by J Edgar Hoover on the surveillance of Jean Seberg. It seems to shocking now that the government would harass an actress for her political views, but I bet it’s still happening and people are still getting black-listed, just as they did during the McCarthy era ‘witch-hunts’. It makes you realise how powerful artistic expression can be – that the government felt it had to stifle people. And some governments still do I’m sure.

Sorry, I’ve gone off on rather a tangent there, but Jean Seberg had quite a hard life I think. She ended up committing suicide in her car (though there is a theory that someone else was there, but they don’t know who) in 1979 at the age of 40. It feels a bit weird to now say ‘but look at all the great clothes she wore’……

I’m not sure what else to write now, so I will just put some pictures of Jean Seberg for your 60s-loving pleasure.

Jean Seberg Painting(image source)

Jean Seberg evening dress(image source)

Jean Seberg stripey dress Breathless(image source)

Jean Seberg Breton colour(image source)

I’ll end this with picture of her looking effortlessly cool, and very French, smoking a cigarette. Is it wrong that I always think smoking looks kind of cool? But, like. smoking from the 60s looks cool – now not so much.

Jean Seberg cigarette(image source)

Breton Style Plantain Tee

This has to be one of my thriftiest makes ever. It’s the Deer and Doe Plantain Tee, which is a free to download. I downloaded and assembled the PDF quite a while ago but only just got around to making something from it. I had this little bit of stripey fabric in my stash for a few months – it was only £1.50 and was from Rolls and Rems (where else!). There was juuuust enough fabric to make this tee and I love it!

Breton-Plantain-Tee-1
The stripes are actually navy blue, though they look black in the photos.

With my new haircut (which I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE), and in this tee shirt, I definitely feel like I’m channeling Jean Seberg!

circa 1965: Promotional portrait of American actor Jean Seberg (1938 - 1979) sitting barefoot and cross-legged on a stool, wearing rolled blue jeans and a French-striped sailor jersey pulled off one shoulder. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)(image source)

I made this tee in the size 36 and changed the neckline. The classic Breton Tee has quite a high neckline (probably a boat neckline would be best), but the Plantain has quite a low scoop-neck. I raised it to just below the back neckline. I also didn’t bother with the neck band, partly because I would have had to work out a new length for it, and partly because I wasn’t entirely sure from the instructions how I should attach it! So I just turned the neckline under by 1.5cm and stitched it with my twin needle.

Breton-Plantain-Tee-2

The sleeves are 3.3cm longer than the short sleeve length. I would have made longer, 3/4 length sleeves, but I didn’t have enough fabric – there was literally just enough to cut the front and back, then squeeze the sleeves from single layers left over after the other bits were cut out. I hemmed the sleeves with the twin needle too, turning under a tiny amount so as to preserve what length I had managed to eek out.

Breton-Plantain-Tee-3

I think the original hem is a little curved, but I straightened the bottom, using the stripes as a guide. Then I turned up one white stripe and stitched the hem with the twin needle.

Breton-Plantain-Tee-4

I think I’m starting to get the hang of sewing with knits. I matched the stripes on the side seams (but then, of course, forgot to take any photos) and I quite enjoy the professional look a twin needle gives to the hems. This is the thickest and most stable knit I’ve sewn with so far, and I like the fact that this is quite thick. I think I need a bit of a tweak in the armpit area to get it to sit better – I’ve had this before with other patterns, so I wonder if I have something that makes me atypical in the armpit/ sleeve area – I’ll try to make some changes if I make this pattern again, which I suspect I will. Any ideas what the issue is and how I can fix it? I think an armscye that extends lower than the pattern originally does.

Breton-Plantain-Tee-5

I’m trying to make more basics for my wardrobe, so I think there’ll be more and more t-shirts and basic things like that coming up on the blog! Also skinny jeans hopefully!