How to Nail Nautical Style

Aug 30, 2016

Written By: Sergio Saucedo

Photo via: @michaelkors

Ahoy! Who needs a boat when you can just dress like a high-styling boat captain on his way to sail the across the Atlantic? It’s a perfect mixture of both ruggedness and preppy. However, even though the nautical aesthetic has endured the test of times due to its natural simplicity, that minimalism is also what makes it so difficult. Think Sunday-morning brunch followed by a trip to the docks, not Johnny Depp in his cinematic role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of The Caribbean. When it comes to nautical style, there are a couple of key pieces you need to have in your wardrobe in order to make sure you nail it.

Notice Your Stripes

Nautical style is everything you could ask for from a summer wardrobe, but make sure you don’t forget to add a dash of stripes. The Breton shirt, a staple piece that held down our fellow fisherman decades ago, is still a classic style that stays true to the whole nautical aesthetic. Whether you opt for an original Breton shirt or a great alternative, make sure you add horizontal stripes to your outfit. We suggest you stick to a classic navy and white palette.

Depending on the weather, a striped short sleeve shirt will provide more breathability, but a long-sleeve alternative will provide versatility. A long-sleeve option will allow for more year-round pairings that will couple well for casual occasions.

The Double-Breasted Blazer

Team up your striped t-shirt with a lightweight blazer, preferably one that is double-breasted. Picking from a lightweight material like linen or a cotton-linen blend will make your summer a lot more bearable and a lot less sweaty.

A double-breasted blazer in white, off-white or navy will keep things looking streamlined. For an added flare, look for a blazer that has some gold accents in the hardware.


One of the biggest mistakes you can make when testing out the waters with nautical vibes is to wear a pair of dark-washed denim with your outfit. While denim is your daily go-to classic, opt for a pair of breezy chinos when it comes to nautical style. Look for a moderately slim fit; not too skinny but also not too baggy – just the right fit that will allow you to cuff the hem with ease. Remember nautical style is supposed to emulate all the best qualities of visiting the ocean: breezy, relaxed, and comfortable.

Color-wise, stick to the traditional nautical palette of white, red, khaki, and blue, but bear in mind all the other staple pieces that you plan to wear as well.

If you do decide to slip on a pair of denim, make sure they are a white washed pair of denim to continue with a similar color palette.

All Hail the Boat Shoes

Photo via @hespokestyle

Let’s not forget about the piece that can make or break your whole nautical outfit—your shoes. Wearing boat shoes when sporting a nautical outfit is a no-brainer. But choosing the right pair that will be versatile is the challenge. While Sperry’s are the original boat shoe, deciding between a leather or canvas alternative both have their pros and cons. While leather shoes are a classic and elegant option, canvas boat shoes provide both the comfort and breathability that we all need. So choose wisely when picking between either pairs.

Once again don’t forget to keep in mind all the other pieces that you will be pairing with the boat shoes before you commit to a specific color way. While navy may seem like the obvious choice given the obvious nautical theme we got going here. Navy has it’s limitations; it can only be paired with white, red, or off-white chinos, while tan or leather options can be much more versatile when it comes to harmonizing with your entire wardrobe.

Of course, wearing boat shoes without socks is 100% acceptable, but word of the wise for the sake of your shoes and everyone around you, slip on a pair of invisible socks.

Accessories to Finish off the Look

Now that you got all the basics to pull off the nautical theme, let’s talk accessories. While all these are optional, sometimes accessories are what make you stand out, especially when it comes to one of the longest living fashion trends.

Add a hint of shine to your wrist by pairing your outfit with a classic timepiece like a Daniel Wellington watch with a leather strap. For added hints of personality, choose from woven leather or canvas belts worn around chinos or shorts, leather or rope bracelets to complete casual takes on nautical look. Add a hint of vivacity to your outfit by adding anchor tie clips and/or cufflinks. But don’t and I mean don’t go over board and wear all the accessories together, unless you want to hear some ‘Hello sailor!’ comments from all your family and friends.


Of course, striped tees, slim white chinos, and leather boat shoes are the kind of weekend staples that look good on fashion bloggers, but might feel a little aggressively nautical if you’re just heading out to the grocery store on your average Sunday—especially if you live nowhere near a dock. You could replace some of the key pieces with a few great alternatives. For instance, instead of opting for a striped t-shirt which is a classic nautical staple, you could replace it with a slim fit polo in a white or blue color way. Or switch out the double-breasted blazer for a lighter layer like a cardigan or a two-toned sweater.

Photo via: Getty Images

A great example of sprucing up the nautical look was seen during the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympic games. Team USA really showed their nautical sensibility with their opening outfits provided by Ralph Lauren. Switching up the thin horizontal stripes for some bold three-toned stripes was a success, especially when paired with a navy blazer, some white jeans, and some patriotic boat shoes.


Our take on nautical is like a positive-gesture to the nautical instead of a full on sailor’s salute. So much more chill, while still making sure to incorporates all the classic pieces.

How do you wear nautical? Are there any tips or go-to brands you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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