Nautical style is one of the most popular subsets of the preppy style. It includes enduring items such as cable knit sweaters, boat shoes and new takes such as anchor hoodies. Many people are under the impression that designers, at a loss for a new fashion cue, simply appropriated the style from the clothes being worn by those involved in nautical pursuits. However, the actual story is far more interesting than that.
The term ‘preppy’ has now become quite a generic one and its original meaning is often forgotten. The ‘prep’ in ‘preppy’ refers to the university-preparatory schools in the Northeastern U.S. Wealthy families have been sending their children to these schools for well over 100 years to prepare them for what they hope will be an Ivy League tertiary education. At both the preparatory schools and Ivy League universities, there has always been a strong focus on extra-curricular activities. In addition to sports such as polo and tennis, there was (and continues to be) a heavy emphasis on watersports including sailing and rowing. Naturally, the prep school students’ wardrobes would be chock full of the clothing designed for these activities - so much so that they would take to wearing the items outside of their initially intended activities. Considering enrollment in a preparatory school or Ivy League university was considered a sign of status and social standing, it’s of no surprise that other young people adopted the style. Today, nautical style clothes are popular around the globe but still nowhere more so than New England. During the summer, residents of and families vacationing in coastal towns sport the style, taking their sailboats out on the water daily. And wealthy or not, New Englanders on a whole continue to embrace nautical style.
So why has nautical clothing not just endured but in fact seen its popularity rise in the past few decades? Visually, of course, nautical clothing provides a streamlined style that, while relaxed, offers an air of distinction. However, a number of other factors have contributed to its longevity. The comfort of nautical style clothing is undeniable, and also easily explained by its history. The clothes were originally designed for strenuous outdoor sports and would therefore need to breathe and expel heat in the summer and protect you from the elements during harsher weather periods - while not being abrasive or chaffing on the skin. Thus we have the impossibly comfortable crew neck, V-neck and boat neck sweaters, rowing polos and shorts. Boat shoes, meanwhile, become ubiquitous as the temperature rises due to their breathability and comfort. For those very same reasons, as well as their attractive patchwork design, clothing made with lightweight madras fabric is a summer must have. Fashionable seersucker clothing adds a tendency to hold itself away from the skin and facilitate even more air circulation to its desirability. At the same time, as sporting wear, nautical wear has to be durable. From its earliest days the style featured resilient materials and excellent craftsmanship, a practice that continues to this very day.
At Nantucket Brand Clothing Company, we love everything nautical and want to be your destination for everything nautical. You’ll find authentic nautical style clothing for both men and women from our boutique partner brands, in addition to our own collections.
By: Richard H