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Fashion & Trends

Boating Fashion and Trends

There is a whole segment of the fashion industry tailored to people who love living life on the water, and who just as equally enjoy dressing the part.

How is this possible? Well, start by considering just how many different kinds of boating experiences there are, and then keep in mind that there are different “looks” for each one. Also, there are different styles that appeal to different people within these different contexts. So, for example, even as a dinner cruise on a yacht will almost always call for something more formal, there are myriad options for how to demonstrate your own personal flair. Similarly, sport sailing is another breeding ground for nautical fashion trends, but each individual can express their own unique style in myriad ways.

Boating has informed the world of fashion and pop culture ever since it became a recreational and sporting activity, as compared to just a means to collect food and travel safely down river from point A to point B. Just think about how many fashion ads you’ve seen with people sporting brand new sailing or yachting attire to support big brands. It’s pretty much a given that you’re going to see fashion trade mags, broadcast TV spots and all manner of social posts dedicated to people modeling the latest fashion trends aboard a boat, especially in anticipation of the warmer months of spring and summer.

Handsome man on dock illustrating nautical fashion men

For this particular blog entry, we’ll parse things into three sections. First, we’ll take a look at the informal side of things and consider must-have clothing items for everyday water sports and activities, including the right kinds of clothing and footwear for boating, fishing and other such pastimes. After that we’ll explore formal options for cruises and yachting expeditions. Finally, we’ll present our own curated list of top fashion tips for the boating world at large. Our aim is not only to make sure you’re fully prepared for your upcoming boating adventure, but that you look really good while you’re on it!

Men and women boat attire

If, like most people, the majority of your boating experiences are geared toward water sports such as fishing, water skiing and wakeboarding, you’re definitely going to want to consider the utility of the item right alongside any decisions you make in regard to particular styles or fashions. You also want to think about if you are preparing for a warm-weather or cold-weather trip. For boating and any water sports during warm seasons, your primary considerations are ensuring you have clothes that are cool, dry fast and protect you from the elements. Linen and microfibers are great choices. You can even find very light, long-sleeve boating shirts that are breathable and cool, but nonetheless protect you from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight and UV rays. This also applies to boating pants, boating shorts and sailing jackets. Oh, and if you’re the captain of your ship, even if it’s a small skiff, you might as well go ahead and look at getting your very own sailing captain’s hat. Because, well, they’re awesome and you deserve it, Cap.

Men wearing boat captain caps

You also want to make sure you have the right boat shoes. If they are not waterproof, they should be water-friendly at the least, meaning they are non-slip and will not get ruined by taking a full plunge in the water. Your typical docksiders or boat shoes aren’t necessarily the best option for active sporting activities on the slippery surface of a smaller craft. They can, however, be perfectly suitable for other situations, for example, on larger boats in more formal settings. To round it out, make sure you have a swimsuit that is comfortable enough to be active in throughout the day. It may seem like a small consideration, but advances in fibers and materials mean that not all bathing suits are created equal these days. Make sure yours fits you well and dries quickly for optimal comfort.

Men and women boat shoes

For more formal settings, such as dinner cruises and yachting trips, the possibilities for individual stylistic expression are truly unlimited. Of course, you have your black-tie, formal events in which a suit and cocktail dress may be the appropriate attire. Other times, perhaps within the context of an evening dinner cruise, a nice pair of khakis or culottes, nice shirt and/or sweater, and a nice pair of shoes (with a bit of grip) should do just fine. And while you don’t have to make yourself up to look like the stereotypical Tommy Hilfiger or Nautica ad, there are some really fun ways to add nautical and seafaring themes and flair into what might otherwise be a blah outfit. It really all comes down to expressing yourself in a way that feels true to you.

Couple dining on deck of cruise ship at sunset

Here are our top tips for those who find dressing the part to be part of the fun. Navy blue and white have long been the two colors most closely associated with clothes for boating and nautical fashion. But there are a million different ways to combine them in your own way. Think about solid khaki shorts and a chunky navy-blue sweater for cooler weather, or perhaps a cream or off-white pullover atop some navy sailing pants. Play with patterns and things like striped shirts that you may not typically wear. Linen is king for warmer weather. It breathes, it dries quickly, and critically, it just looks so darn cool and easy fitting in these relaxed environments. If you don’t show up wearing your swimsuit, always have one with you, along with a wet-dry bag to carry your things.

Beautiful lady in nautical fashion with white top, blue jacket and tan leather bag

For men, consider toting a tan-colored shoulder bag or backpack. Women who carry handbags or clutches may opt for a larger, tan-colored canvas or even a straw bag to go with the nautical theme of the rest of their outfit. For those months when you’re out on the water when the temperature changes significantly over the course of one day, bring layers. Light sweaters and jackets, as well as waterproof windbreakers can be absolute lifesavers after a long day in the sun when the temperatures begin to drop. Finally, whether in a formal or informal setting, be sure to wear appropriate footwear. Even on large crafts with elevated decks, sea spray and humidity can make surface areas slippery. Finally, experiment with fun hats, such as sailor hats, visors and fisherman hats. Not only do they look cool, but they also help keep sun out of your eyes. 

Make your rule be to occasionally try things you wouldn’t typically wear. Let your personality show and have fun while you’re doing it!

Nautical Fashion Photos

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Waterhead Watersports

No matter the water sport, whether it’s swimming, surfing, boating or fishing you will find ideas on these pages about health and fitness, the best places for your favorite water activity and the latest fashions to make you look good while you’re doing it!
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