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Old 04-22-2005, 01:40 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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Why do B&W striped shirts = French

At least to British people. I see this on Monty Python, (and Benny Hill) and it seems to be shorthand to say someone is French because they are wearing the thin, horizontally striped shirt.


What gives?
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Old 04-22-2005, 01:56 PM
Scumpup Scumpup is offline
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How odd. I associate that kind of shirt with Russian sailors.
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:05 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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That is the shirt. But usually, you see someone dressed in black pants, with one of those shirts, (black and white) and they are smoking, that means they are French.
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:10 PM
Otto Otto is offline
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WAG would be that it's a "continental" look and the Pythons added the mustache, beret and accent to make it specifically "French."
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:11 PM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party is offline
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You need a load of garlic hanging around the neck, a beret, moustache and a bicycle with a wicker basket on the front for the authentic look.
  #6  
Old 04-22-2005, 02:19 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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I think it has something to do with the classic Apache dancer get-up.
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Old 04-22-2005, 02:22 PM
caveman caveman is offline
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Do mimes perhaps play a part in the stereotype?

Quote:
You need a load of garlic hanging around the neck, a beret, moustache and a bicycle with a wicker basket on the front for the authentic look
I thought garlic was the trademark foodstuff of Italians (IAAI-A, btw). For the French look, there should be a overly long baguette protruding form the basket. Paging Dr. Freud...
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Old 04-22-2005, 05:52 PM
medstar medstar is offline
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Why do B&W striped shirts = French

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eve
I think it has something to do with the classic Apache dancer get-up.
Uh, Eve? Could you explain where the term "Apache dancer" came from? I clicked on the link and saw the couple dressed as Apache dancers, but they just looked like they were French. I always thought that Apache dancers were Native Americans performing a traditional dance. Obviously, I'm wrong and am now eager to shed my ignorance.
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Old 04-22-2005, 06:11 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caveman
Do mimes perhaps play a part in the stereotype?
Not just any mime, the King of Mimes, Marcel Marceau originated that familiar costume in 1947 for his alter-ego "Bip".
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Old 04-22-2005, 06:44 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by medstar
Uh, Eve? Could you explain where the term "Apache dancer" came from? I clicked on the link and saw the couple dressed as Apache dancers, but they just looked like they were French. I always thought that Apache dancers were Native Americans performing a traditional dance. Obviously, I'm wrong and am now eager to shed my ignorance.
"Apache" was used to refer to French street gangs in the 1900s (link.)
Quote:
The typical French Apache was a young, lower-class, pimp-type vagabond with connections to the underworld. An interesting by-product of this underground culture was "Apache dancing" -- a type of "street swing" which simulated actions and movements of urban violence, and actually contained combat techniques particular to the typical Apache's repertoire. This dance was reportedly so violent that participants sometimes died of injuries sustained from being thrown across bars, onto tables, or after being struck with mistimed blows.
A typical Apache dance might act out a fight between two lovers, blow by blow.
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Old 04-23-2005, 12:47 AM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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I remember Shields and Yarnell* doing a bit like that. I knew, somehow, that the dancers were supposed to be French.




(most embarrsing admission on the dope yet)
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Old 04-23-2005, 03:56 AM
WotNot WotNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by +MDI
You need a load of garlic hanging around the neck, a beret, moustache and a bicycle with a wicker basket on the front for the authentic look.
Not garlic, onions. What you’re describing is the classic archetypal french onion seller. Here’s one.

The simple answer to the OP is that striped shirt, beret, etc was at one time a common outfit for a Frenchman, in particular the Bretons who came over here selling onions, and were therefore the Frenchmen that most people were most familiar with in person.
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Old 04-23-2005, 04:41 AM
ticker ticker is offline
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WotNot is correct. The striped shirt and beret was traditional attire in Britony. It was quite common, at least in south eastern England when I was young, for Breton onion sellers to travel around on bikes covered in strings of onions, plying their trade door-to-door. I think I last saw one in the early 70's.
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Old 04-23-2005, 10:37 AM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebra
That is the shirt. But usually, you see someone dressed in black pants, with one of those shirts, (black and white) and they are smoking, that means they are French.
Don't forget that white face paint and the hat...always brings to mind mimes, which brings to mind...French.
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Old 04-23-2005, 10:39 AM
jasonh300 jasonh300 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fear Itself
Not just any mime, the King of Mimes, Marcel Marceau originated that familiar costume in 1947 for his alter-ego "Bip".
Oops...spoke too soon.
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Old 04-23-2005, 10:53 AM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonh300
Oops...spoke too soon.
Ni, too late.
  #17  
Old 04-23-2005, 10:54 AM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by FatBaldGuy
Ni, too late.
That's No
  #18  
Old 04-23-2005, 11:57 AM
jayjay jayjay is online now
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Originally Posted by FatBaldGuy
Ni, too late.
Would you like a shrubbery?
  #19  
Old 04-23-2005, 05:41 PM
Slithy Tove Slithy Tove is offline
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Well, googling for French painting of guys in their undershirts yeilds a paucity of stripes:


Manet: http://www.villagehatshop.com/media/...et-boating.jpg

Seurat: http://members.aol.com/zacarious1/Seurat.jpg

Renoir: http://www.sunyniagara.cc.ny.us/home...tel/renoir.jpg

Wait - paydirt:

http://www.artlebedev.ru/studio/post...-1280x1024.jpg
http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/d/image...er_picasso.JPG
http://www.peterfetterman.com/images...picasso_sm.jpg

So maybe the French sterotype is due to a single Spaniard.
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Old 04-24-2005, 03:11 AM
Crandolph Crandolph is offline
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Don't forget the Breton flag. Obviously black & white horizontal stripes = Breton. (Curious to know which was first, the shirts or the flag...)

Several months ago in a thread which dealt with the mutual intelligibility of certain European languages, there was at least one link to an article in a British paper profiling some Bretons who continue to sell onions via bicycle in England & Wales to this day.

I'm astounded by the economics of this. Surely onions grow in Britain... right? Are these special onions? Do they cost so much more than domestic onions that the trip across the Channel is at least self-financing? Is there such a glut in the French onion market that export becomes necessary? All a big mystery to me...
  #21  
Old 04-24-2005, 05:54 AM
Ponster Ponster is offline
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The flag was inventer in 1925 and have a feeling that stripes were worn before that date but doubt that the flag is based onthe shirt.

As for onions, my Grandfather remembers them from the 1950's when he worked on the railways in southern England, as they cycled from town to town selling onions and garlic. He said that they sold several varieties of each.

In a typical French supermarket you have a choice of maybe 6 types of onions and several types of garlic while I'm sure that it's less in the average market in the UK (at least it is in Ireland).

I prefer French garlic to the stuff I buy in Ireland. It's much sweeter and never have smalled cloves within the main clove.
  #22  
Old 04-24-2005, 06:36 AM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is online now
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I've been told that it was the uniform of the French navy in the 19th Century.
http://www.ewolfs.com/past_auctions/...eapons/74.html


Also, btw, the supposition that all French sailors are thieves gave us the stereotypical image of a burglar
http://www.tameside.gov.uk/corpgen/new/burglar2.jpg
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Old 04-24-2005, 06:48 AM
WotNot WotNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crandolph
I'm astounded by the economics of this. Surely onions grow in Britain... right? Are these special onions? Do they cost so much more than domestic onions that the trip across the Channel is at least self-financing? Is there such a glut in the French onion market that export becomes necessary? All a big mystery to me...
By all means check out this link from my earlier post, which answers some of your questions.

Bear in mind that this trade dates from the early years of the 20th century, when the vast majority of fruit and vegetables available in Britain were native and seasonal, and there was, naturally, considerably less variety – in contrast to today when almost any commodity from anywhere in the world is available year-round.

It was well worth it for the Bretons to make the short trip on the ferry across the channel to a market more than ready to pay a little more for good-quality produce not otherwise available. Bear in mind as well that there was a certain caché in buying from the French onion-seller, a touch of the cosmopolitan in the largely hum-drum life of the average housewife. Good marketing in other words.
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Old 04-24-2005, 07:23 AM
Rayne Man Rayne Man is offline
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There was a programme on BBC TV a few years ago about French onion sellers. It said that many growers are now going over to the production of asparagus , instead of onions. Apparently they can get more for this crop , it suits the sandy soil where they used to grow the onions and they don't have to go to all the expense of coming over to Britain to sell it .
  #25  
Old 04-24-2005, 02:34 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Good. I like asparagus better than onions, though it gives my urine an interesting odor.

When I come back I'll bring PIE*

Proto-Indo-European, that is..
  #26  
Old 04-24-2005, 08:16 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ticker
WotNot is correct. The striped shirt and beret was traditional attire in Britony. It was quite common, at least in south eastern England when I was young, for Breton onion sellers to travel around on bikes covered in strings of onions, plying their trade door-to-door. I think I last saw one in the early 70's.
We still get them around here occasionally, but I think they now tend to wear the striped shirts because they are playing up to the stereotype, rather than some unbroken tradition.
  #27  
Old 04-24-2005, 11:47 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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So we have Onion Sellers, Apache Dancers, and the French Navy.

Sounds like a great movie!
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