There are many reasons why nautical clothing is so appealing, so it’s only natural to wonder, “How can I create a nautical wardrobe?” The look is timeless, simple, elegant, and appropriate for all occasions, after all. You can wear a nautical-inspired wardrobe for anything from attending a formal wedding to hitting up a beach barbeque. If you’ve seen this look but are wondering how to incorporate more of it into your wardrobe, read on for our tips for creating a nautical wardrobe suitable for all seasons and all occasions.
"Nautical" describes anything related to the sea, ships, and navigation. A nautical wardrobe celebrates the romantic mystery associated with navigating a boat on open water while honoring the attire that fishermen and those in the Navy wore. If you’re trying to envision it, think of a blue, short peacoat with brass buttons. If the fisherman looks your style more, expect a thick men’s or women’s wool sweater with pants and a pair of slick rubber rain boats (although leather looks even better).
The first tip for creating a nautical wardrobe is to mind the colors you choose. Most often, people associate navy blue and white with nautical clothing. But red, yellow, and black also work. Why? Those are the only colors used on nautical flags. When paired, anyone looking through binoculars out into the sea might easily see those colors. And since mariners still use flags to communicate, colors are important considerations when creating a truly authentic nautical wardrobe.
There’s a reason we call dark blue "navy blue." That’s the color the British Royal Navy chose for its sailors’ outfits back in the middle of the 18th century, and other navies around the world then adopted it as well. Navy blue shorts with a white women’s T-shirt, a navy blue top with an anchor embroidered on it, and even navy blue accessories like purses and pumps all add to the appeal of a nautical wardrobe.
You can ignore the whole “No white pants after Labor Day” rule regarding nautical attire. After all, that rule is a bit old-fashioned, and some rules are meant to be broken. Plus, sailors wore white pants all year as part of their uniform. But, to pull off this look, you’ll need a nautical top. A navy-blue long-sleeved T-shirt, for example, looks great with khaki or white women’s pants. A red-and-white striped top looks great with white pants as well. Light-colored khakis can easily take their place if you can’t be convinced to wear white pants during winter.
It’s been said that sailors wore neckerchiefs to wipe perspiration from their faces and necks and to protect their necks from the stiff collars of their uniform shirts. While neckerchiefs are no longer a functional element of a sailor’s uniform, they’re still part of it. If you want to emulate a sailor’s neckerchief, you can simply tie a black or navy-blue scarf around your neck loosely. You may even be able to find a scarf with anchors on it to get deep into the nautical theme. Regardless of the type of scarf you choose, make sure it matches the rest of your outfit. A white top is ideal since it contrasts so starkly against the dark scarf or “neckerchief.”
A peacoat is a popular type of women’s wool coat that’s perfect for a nautical wardrobe. That’s because of its history, which dates from the 16th-century Dutch navy. Its double-breasted design with large protective lapels protected sailors from blustery conditions. And its short length allowed them to move freely around the boat without having their legs constricted by a long, stiff coat. Peacoats don’t only come in wool, though. You can find peacoats in a variety of fabrics, including wool/polyester blends. As for color, navy blue is the quintessential coat color for the nautical theme, but black, white, and red are on target as well. Just remember that, although a solid-colored peacoat in nautical colors will match most outfits, you’ll have to pair it with another nautical-colored item to make it look like a “nautical” outfit.
You don’t need to enlist in the Navy to embrace the nautical lifestyle. A nautical wardrobe can help you fit right in, and it looks great no matter what occasion you’re wearing it for.