If you try to keep your wardrobe classic and your outfits timeless, you’ve likely realized by now that channeling nautical style is a strategy that serves you well during the warmest months of the year. You may not know starboard from port, but whether you plan to spend your summer days at sea or just to pine for the ocean from your land-locked office, there are some great nautical pieces that you should wear often.
Luckily, all of those pieces are easy to find, and easy to afford even if you’re sticking to a budget for your summer wardrobe upgrade. We’ve pulled together our favorite nautical pieces, which each cost under $200. But a word of warning: you may find lots of pieces that you love, but as is true with any style, you’ll want to avoid putting on everything nautical-inspired in a single outfit, since you’ll likely look like you’re wearing a costume if you do. (As with all good things in life, moderation is key.) But if you can practice a little restraint, read on to learn about the best pieces to help you channel nautical style this summer.
1. Striped shirts
Every nautical style devotee worth his salt knows that a striped tee is a summer staple. You can’t go wrong with a French mariniere or its all-American counterpart, the classic striped t-shirt. The breton top is a French classic, one that got its start as the official uniform of the French Navy and was subsequently adopted by style icons from Pablo Picasso to Jean-Paul Gaultier. Even limiting yourself to classic navy blue and white iterations, there are plenty of choices. One of our favorites is A.P.C.’s striped knit t-shirt, which is cut of a comfortable mid-weight cotton and looks great either layered or on its own.
Chinos are a classic style of pants that originated in French and British military uniforms. They’re now a summer staple, in colors ranging from navy to tan to red. And if your personal style skews preppy, then a pair of Nantucket reds, which were popularized by Murray’s Toggery Shop and featured in The Official Preppy Handbook, will likely become an indispensable piece in your nautical-inspired wardrobe. Whichever color you choose, opt for a slim and flattering fit, and make sure to roll the cuffs for a casual and beach-ready look. J.Crew’s urban slim-fit chinos are an affordable and comfortable option, and in navy, these chinos are about as versatile as they get.
3. Double-breasted navy blazer
It’s no secret that navy blue everything is a great way to channel nautical style. But for those times when you have a semi-formal event to attend, how about choosing a double-breasted navy blazer? The style was first worn by nineteenth century Cambridge rowers, and you can wear one today over anything from a white tee to a chambray shirt. For one that will work well over your summer ensembles, look for a cotton or cotton-linen version instead of the wool you might wear in cold weather. Though good blazers are tricky to find at $200 or less, we’d recommend Brooks Brothers’ cotton-twill double-breasted blazer, a sale find that would look great with your favorite summer outfits.
4. Beach-ready footwear
There are plenty of great pairs of shoes that are uniquely suited to summer weather. But some of the best can do double duty and bring a little bit of nautical style to every ensemble. Consider a pair of boat shoes, which were invented by Paul A. Sperry in 1935 for use on slippery docks and wet decks. A brown leather pair of boat shoes is a versatile style, or you can opt for a canvas pair of espadrilles, which are a more stylish alternative to a pair of flip-flops for the beach. When it comes to boat shoes, you can’t go wrong with a classic pair of “Authentic Original” Sperrys, and if you’re shopping for espadrilles, we’d recommend Castañer’s ivory canvas pair.
5. White jeans
If you’ve already shopped for a pair of white jeans this season, then you already know all about how to style them. But you may not have realized how easy they are to pair with all of your favorite nautical-inspired pieces. A slim, lightweight pair of white jeans looks great with a striped tee, and works just as well with classic pieces of outerwear, like a double-breasted navy blazer or even a yellow raincoat. A budget-friendly place to start is with a pair of white Levi’s 501s, which offer a classic tapered fit that will pair easily with all your other summer staples.
6. Classic swim trunks
Summer isn’t complete without a trip to the beach (or the pool), so you’re going to need a great pair of swim trunks sooner or later. There are way too many options that are unflatteringly long and decorated with all kinds of motifs that will look dated before the summer is out. So we’d recommend opting for a shorter pair in classic navy blue. If you’re ready to commit to the short length, we’d recommend Club Monaco’s cotton-blend swim trunks, which are cut slim and made from a textured cotton blend.
7. Textured sweater
If you really are going to be headed out to sea this summer, you may find it useful to have a heavy but breathable sweater. If you’re spending time in northern states or out on the ocean, a cotton or cotton-linen sweater will keep you warm as the temperature drops. One of our favorites is NN 07’s basketweave cotton sweater. The Copenhagen-based label knows a thing or two about building pieces to last, and this sweater is a classic shade of ecru that will look great on a rocky New England beach, on your friend’s sailboat, or on a night out in your favorite coastal vacation town.
8. Dive watch
There are plenty of naval-inspired accessories for you to choose from. But if you don’t want to go overboard with anchor-motif bracelets or woven belts, consider an understated dive watch. Choosing a great watch is a notoriously expensive endeavor, but you can get the look on a budget with a watch from Seiko. We’re partial to the Seiko 5 watch, which features a blue and red diver-style bezel and 100-meter water-resistance.