It seems like every summer, nautical styles come back. But now we are seeing romantic and billowing styles a la Pirates of the Caribbean at Fall/Winter Fashion Week 2020. The fun part of seafaring style is that it’s rooted in practicality. And then there are the basics of it: stripes and navy.
The thing that started this all off for me was Max Mara’s Ready-to-Wear Fall 2020 collection, full of “romantic flounces and frills” with their coats. A growing trend for this fall is oversized outwear in classic shapes with nice, big sleeves. Some of my favorites (pictured above) are a striped cape with a toggle closure and a full-length shaggy striped coat, something that I actually have in my closet right now!
The reason nautical-inspired clothing can be loved and worn year-round is because there is a focus on natural materials and classic shapes, which can be translated throughout the seasons. Many seafaring styles can be traced by to the British Royal Navy during the Victorian era. Naval uniforms were a sign of loyalty and bravery, things we still associate it with today.
The striped Breton shirt is another staple in the “sailor” look, which actually originates from France. Coco Chanel was the one who brought the style into our everyday wear. Her collection from 1917 featured the first striped shirt — actually a men’s shirt — which started the classic striped shirt in women’s fashion.
Wide-legged trousers, cable-knit sweaters, pea-coats and light capes are all staples in this style of dress. Many preppy nautical collections have symbols like anchors or crabs, maybe even fish, but what I have in mind is a subtle, less statement-grabbing look. The only pop of anything in the Max Mara collection, for example, is the stripes! The key to get a luxurious look is to keep the palette natural, similar to how the navy, cream and tan colors are tones that we would see by the seaside. Many times there are neck ties, but those are quite preppy. I prefer a beanie, like the one Bill Murray wears in The Life Aquatic (2004), which is quirkier.
My favorite classic seaside look is a striped shirt tucked into high-waisted, wide-legged trousers. But there are fun ways to experiment! Keeping to the basics lets this trend stay classic.
There are barely ever dresses in this style. This is probably for the same reason that shoes in the seafaring style are more for utility than glamour: this look is inspired by sailors and does best to keep to trousers and comfortable footwear. Many wear sandals during the summer, but I love the idea of these pieces with boots.
Vivienne Westwood did a collection is 2016 that was less sportswear and more velvet pirate luxe, like an expensive Captain Jack Sparrow. So what are the staples in this look? Probably:
- Billowing pieces
- High-waisted trousers
- Neutral colors
- Natural fabrics
Let me know what you think about this look. It’s one of my personal favorites, and I hope to wear this stuff from the spring all the way until the fall.