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Entries in nautical (13)


Fashion Follows Sailor Suit

Late last spring, just as the warmer weather was beginning in Melbourne, I amused myself (and my work colleagues) by adopting a nautical theme for a week. I have long loved stripes – a nautical staple – and the classic colour combination of blue, red, and white which I very often choose to wear, nautical theme or not.

Traditional sailor suits … influenced the design of the new bathing suits and other clothing …

Nautical fashion has for many decades been popular for the warmer seasons, with its obvious link to seaside activities. The fashion first took off in the mid nineteenth century, when ‘sportswear for the new woman’ first started being produced. Traditional sailor suits, ie, naval uniforms with flap collars, stripes and bellbottoms, influenced the design of the new bathing suits and other clothing designed for regattas, yachting, boating and seaside promenading.

Coco Chanel in the interwar periodFrench sailors; the marinière or tricot rayé (striped sweater) is a cotton long-armed shirt with horizontal blue and white stripes, characteristically worn by quartermasters and seamen in the French navy.Coco Chanel was another enormous influence after adopting the sailor-collared top (as opposed to Breton striped tees) worn by the local fishermen and sailors in the resort town of Deauville, where she opened her first store on the coast of France in 1913. At the same time, ‘Middy’ blouses, inspired by the uniform of midshipmen were worn by school children for gym activities; by the 1920s they were a huge women’s fashion trend.

1920s middy shirtFashion in the decades after followed suit, adopting the look not just for sportswear, but for daywear, and to the present day we are still wearing nautical influenced garments (although it still seems chiefly only for daytime). Every nautical motif once can think of has been deployed by fashion designers in both blatant and subtle iterations, from the triumvirate of the three most popular colours of blue, red and white; stripes and flag graphics; middy tops and sailor collars; neckties and pussy bows; every type of nautical hat – boaters, fisherman and sailor caps; high-waisted bellbottoms; to naval trim such as gold buttons and braid, and rope, anchor and sailboat motifs. 

It’s fun, it’s sporty and casual, easy and breezy, and denotes summertime and carefree holidays so very particularly – no wonder nautical fashion has remained popular!

Click through to view my gallery of all my nautical looks of the week, and keep scrolling for nautical looks throughout the decades.

Read more about nautical Fashion

Stories on nautical fashion by Vintage Dancer and Blue Velvet Vintage are worth a read – both include some great images from different eras.

Genealogy Lady has written a short history on the middy blouse.

Frenchly reveals that Coco Chanel did not make Breton stripes a thing!

For seaside fashion of the nineteenth century, visit Mimi Matthews.

Nautical fashions through the decades

Victorian era, c 1890sEdwardian wool bathing suit1920s swimsuit1930s nautical daywear fashions1940s dress (LIFE magazine)1950s1960s1970sMarch 1982February 1992, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington wearing Ralph Lauren on Vogue's coverLes Indes galantes collection, Lascar dress, Haute couture, spring/summer 2000, Jean-Paul GaultierZuhair Murad, RTW Spring 2016All images found on Pinterest unless otherwise indicated with direct links.


Sumptuous Stripes

James Galanos evening dress, 1955. From Fashion: The Whole Story, by Marnie Fogg (Thames & Hudson, 2013)If you knew how much I love stripes, particularly red and white ones, you would not be surprised to read that I nearly fainted with delight when I flipped a page in a book and saw this evening dress. It is from 1955, by American designer James Galanos (1924–).

This graceful gown is made from printed silk chiffon; note the nautical influence in the bathing suit style bodice and the insouciant knot in the overskirt. It is replicating a displaced middy collar. The term ‘middy’ derives from ‘midshipman’, a student at a naval academy, and is used to describe a sailor collar.

How I would love to swan around on the open sea in this!


From Fashion: The Whole Story, edited by Marnie Fogg (Thames & Hudson, 2013).

James Galanos evening dress, 1955. From Fashion: The Whole Story, by Marnie Fogg (Thames & Hudson, 2013)



When I was shopping for vintage paper to use in my fine art work, I bought a French women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine called Nouveauté (Novelty). This issue was published on the eve of World War II, in August 1939.

I do find the cover rather odd however: the model’s attire is unappealingly reminiscent of juvenile folk costume – and what on earth is that strange spiky thing skewering her straw hat? I cannot hazard a guess!

Most of the content inside is uninteresting to me (and unintelligible since I only speak a few words of French), but there are a few wonderful fashion illustrations, which you can see below. What I’d really love is to get hold of some French Vogues from this era!


The Last Days of Summer

Today is the last day of summer!!! The quantity of exclamation marks should indicate my shock and horror, for this tragic ending has crept up on me. I had even been thinking about the fact that we actually have an extra day of summer as this is the 29th of February, but the reality had not quite dawned on me because the dear meteorologists (so beloved of Melbourne’s populace because of our fickle climate) have forecast several hot days this week. (They had better be right.)

So really, there are still a few unofficial days of summer out of which we can squeeze maximum enjoyment. But I thought it right to commemorate this sad occasion with a suitable outfit, and what better than one nautically-inspired? A blue and white striped linen tee is as summery as can be, don’t you think? The outfit has a little bit of 1940s flavour too, one of my favourite fashion eras.

Farewell dear summer, see you next year!

Photos: Today


The Accidental Sailor

Ahoy! Rosebud – a self-confessed and impartial poly-shopper drawn to anything sparkly – tells us how on this warm day at the end of March she managed to go nautical quite without intending too.

How did you put this outfit together Rosebud?

I wanted to wear the skirt as it was new, and I simply chose items that matched. However, I particularly wanted to avoid it looking like a school skirt, especially since it’s navy – the tee made it more casual. The nautical look was completely inadvertent.

Well the nautical flavour really works. I love pleated skirts too and am always keeping my weather eye out for them. I love how the horizontal stripes of your tee contrast with the vertical pleats. Where did you find your skirt?

I was killing time one night in the city before meeting friends for dinner, and I wandered into Zara to browse. I’ve been looking for a pleated skirt for a while when that one caught my eye. I wanted something in between matronly and schoolgirl, but that can all depend on the styling. The skirt wasn’t on sale, and it was almost sold-out so I snapped it up!

We at SNAP heartily approve of snapping it up. Can you tell us about the rest of your outfit?

The tee is from specialty t-shirt store Graniph – my brother bought it for me in Japan. The ankle boots are from Witchery. They weren’t on sale either.

That sure is a statement necklace. You have a pretty collection of rings on your fingers too.

The necklace was a 21st birthday present from a neighbour from when I was growing up – I used to baby-sit their kids. I’m also wearing three rings. The blue stone ring and the amethyst were both given to me by my mum and dad. The blue ring was a good luck present before I did my Year 12 exams (a few years ago now), and they bought the amethyst ring on a trip to India. I bought the silver and diamond ring in New York. My watch was a present for my sixteenth birthday – I think it is by an Israeli designer.

That’s a lovely collection of presents to mark some special times in your life … Earlier you mentioned that you bought a couple of these dress items at full price. You aren’t a bargain-hunter?

Not especially. I don’t really have the patience for it. Although recently I did chance on a bargain at Laura Ashley. It was a tuxedo jacket that had been reduced four times, from $280 down to $60. It wasn’t really in the usual Laura Ashley style, so perhaps it just didn’t appeal to their regular customers.

Do you shop online?

No – I much prefer brick-and-mortar stores. I like to go in and browse – I’m not a target-shopper at all. Often it’s just when I have some spare time to kill.

Where are your favourite places to shop?

I really like Alpha 60, although I don’t actually own much by them. I find the style doesn’t suit me, but I admire their aesthetic – the shapes, the simple, good fabrics. I also like to look regularly in Gorman, TopShop, Arabella Ramsay (which is now called Ryder), Uniqlo – that’s been mainly overseas – Sportsgirl, Sussan’s, and also department stores such as Target, Myer, David Jones … Really, I’ll shop anywhere and everywhere. I’m not snobby about labels or branding per se.

I’m drawn to sequins (anything shiny!), sparkles, patterns – garments with something interesting about them. I also like shoes.

Who doesn’t! A magpie’s love of all thinks sparkly is something else Rosebud has in common with SNAP. This is Rosebud’s first appearance on the pages of SNAP – thanks so much for coming aboard!