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The History of Nautical Clothing Past And Present

The History of Nautical Clothing Past And Present

The word nautical refers to life in sea-faring vessels on the oceans of the world. For decades, all things nautical have been observed with a certain admiration.

The life of sailing across the sea, seeing different countries and meeting people from various cultures has been viewed with a certain romanticism.

Therefore, sailors, marine soldiers, expeditionists and seafaring explorers have been colorfully illustrated in magazines, comics, televisions and movies.

Part of this lifestyle is nautical clothing. Always considered fashionable, these clothes are designed in such a way that they are cool, easy to wear and provide protection from the sun or salty water of the oceans. Here is more about nautical apparel.

The history of nautical style

Nautical style can be traced all the way back to Europe in the 16th century. Sailors of the time wore a leather jacket and hat that were tarred so as to protect them from water. Moreover, they wore loose breeches.

These were known as slops and allowed them to move on the ships easily and comfortably. They also added a canvas tunic on their upper bodies.

To protect their clothing, these sailors of old wore a tarpaulin over the whole ensemble.

This one protected them from the rough weather of stormy seas. The tarred leather jacket has evolved into the modern pea coat.

Moreover, sailors today wear a neckerchief and woolen cap to protect their necks and heads from adverse weather.

In the 19th century, the official uniform of the English Navy was developed. This one served to distinguish marine soldiers from regular sailors.

It featured colors such as blue, white, gold and silver. The blue was dark and deep. Hence it became the origin of the 'Navy blue' color.

Transition into competitive sailing

In the 1800s, nautical clothing was adapted for competitive sailing. The sport of racing yachts was officially recognized in the Hundred Guineas Cup of 1851.

Subsequently, this sport debuted in the Olympics of 1896. Nautical style for competitive sailors was required to provide them with function and mobility.

Therefore, they wore marine soldier-inspired jackets which featured brass buttons. They were Navy blue in color and protected them from the spray and waves during yacht races.

In addition to that, their clothing featured colors such as white, red, yellow and blue. This was a fresh, sporty take on nautical clothing.

Female nautical style

Officially, women's nautical fashion emerged in 1942 when the US Navy allowed them to serve on ships.

Their uniform was similar to that of the male soldiers. However, they wore a silhouetted pencil skirt. Their tops had a combination of white, blue and red.

These style features from the history of nautical style have made it into modern apparel in one form or the other.

Modern developments in nautical apparel

Today, competitive sailors, Navy soldiers and nautical fashion enthusiasts wear clothing that maximizes protection from the elements and allows for easy movement.

Traditional fabrics such as wool have been replaced or enhanced with modern fabrics.

Examples of these are polyester and cotton. This is to boost protection from the water and provide insulation from the cold hence ensuring thermal balance.

Moreover, a new strategy of layering apparel has been developed to ensures that the body remains warm.

Various fabrics can be layered with each other in nautical outfits. For example, the inner fabrics ole-fin and polyester can be layered.

Moreover, outer fabrics such as wool and Gore-tex are layered to provide a ventilated yet water proof shell to protect sea-goers from the elements and splashes from the water.

How to wear nautical clothing

There is a unique, stylish way of wearing nautical apparel. Today, clothing in this category of style features horizontal or vertical white and blue stripes.

To dress in a nautical style, ladies can wear a fitted tank top, tee shirt or sweater which features this pattern.

They can pair it with Navy blue slacks or a skirt. They can also wear blue denim jeans or Navy blue khaki bottoms.

Men can wear fitted shirts, traditional polo shirts or sweaters featuring the nautical pattern.

These can be paired with Navy blue jeans, khakis or cotton pants. Boat shoes, flats or sandals are appropriate nautical footwear for both genders.


One of the most fashion-forward styles today is the nautical one. It combines functionality and comfort.

For centuries, sailors, soldiers and yacht enthusiasts have worn this style. It has made it to runways too. By combining the right colors and fabrics, you can dress in a nautical style today.

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  • Alway's Nauti Admin
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