Actress Elle Fanning attends the Met Ball in a nautical-inspired full length ball gown.

Ideas for Nautical Inspired Outfits

by Danielle Jennings

Opting to wear wardrobe pieces with a theme can easily seem costumey or over-the-top, but they don't have to be when executed the right way. One such themed outfit choice is the nautical inspired look, which features clothing filled with the colors of red, white, blue and even yellow. If this look seems a little too Fourth of July and not fashionable enough, don't worry because there are ways to make it work for everyone.

Striped Dress

A relatively easy way to pull off the nautical look effortlessly is to simply throw on a dress. However, not just any dress will do. For this particular look, opt for dresses that feature stripes. Small to medium-sized stripes in navy blue, bright red, yellow and white give off a crisp nautical look. An additional benefit is that there are a variety of appropriate dresses, as long as they are more casual than overly dressy. Minis, bodycon styles that fit snugly on the body, skater silhouettes that feature a full, flared out bottom and maxi dresses are just a few of the dress types that look best when worn with nautical stripes.


Completely comfortable is a way to describe the nautical inspired look of wearing khakis, a blazer and a fitted tee or tank top. It's not as dressy as some other options, but it is arguably one of the oldest forms of dressing in the nautical style according to fashionistas and nautical enthusiasts alike. Your khakis or cargo pants can be in a navy blue, white or traditional khaki color, but inject some fun into them by rolling them up to your lower calf. The blazer is the focal point of this outfit and pulls it all together. A tailored blazer in navy blue or white with gold hardware, such as buttons, is equally structured and polished. You can finish the look off with a basic cotton t-shirt or tank that is fitted. Those in a v-neck or racer-back style work best because they offer the sporty and casual element that nautical fashion is largely known for.

Shorts/Colorful Sweater

Have a little fun with your favorite pair of shorts by incorporating a dose of the nautical theme into them. Whether your shorts are khaki, cargo, denim or gingham, just be sure they have a relaxed fit. The colorful sweater should be the focal point of the outfit, so don't be afraid of one that has an embellished anchor on the front, a bold striped print in nautical colors or even one that is a bright shade of red with gold details. As for the sweater, v-necks and cardigans are best because they are breathable and look great when dressed down.

Pleated Skirt/Blouse

For those moments when you want your nautical look to appear more feminine and formal, the best outfit choice is a pleated skirt paired with a beautiful blouse. This is a look you can wear to the office, dinner, weekend shopping or church. Your pleated skirt can be any length you like, including maxi, at the knee or above. Color choices are versatile as well, with classic white being the most popular. If you decide to keep your skirt in an understated color, then you have room to wear a blouse in a brighter shade like red or yellow. Your blouse can have buttons, ties or billowy sleeves, it all depends on your preference.

About the Author

Danielle Jennings began writing professionally in 2005 and is an expert in fashion, entertainment and lifestyle journalism. She has written for "Jezebel," "Creative Loafing" and "Haute Living." She attended Clayton State University, earning her bachelor’s degree in communications and media studies.

Photo Credits

  • Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images