Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Create the Perfect Nautical Wardrobe: Guest Blog by Ruby Woo Loves You

I've wanted to do a post about this for a LONG time. I didn't know where to start and kept putting it off. But then Tierney submitted some photos of her nautical outfits and I instantly knew she would be the perfect person to write a how to guide to building a nautical wardrobe.

Hi, my name is Tierney, and I spend my days blogging over at Ruby Woo Loves You. I didn't grow up in a coastal town. My summers weren't spent learning how to handle a seafaring craft. I never took boating lessons at summer camp or rowed crew in college. I can't figure out why I'm so attracted to all things nautical. There's something about navy with white piping and gold buttons that instantly attracts my eye. Or, wide stripes in red and white, or polka dots in blue and red.

I can't resist a bright red lobster or an iconic anchor. I obsess over Sperry Topsiders like some girls obsess over TOMS, and I never met a striped sundress I didn't love. My wardrobe has gotten to the place where I could dress with a nautical inspiration every single day. And you know what? If you're just as obsessed as me, you can too.

Here's how to create the perfect nautical wardrobe!

1. Striped Shirts
A staple of any nautical wardrobe is the striped shirt. You will need at least three versions of this top in the following colors: navy/white, red/white, and red/navy.



My go-to store for the perfect striped tops is J Crew. Whether it's cotton or cashmere, J Crew will consistently have every iteration of the striped top. Other less expensive options are the Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy trifecta (depending on how much you want to spend.)

Note: You can never have too many versions of this staple. Cotton 3/4 sleeve? Scoop-neck short-sleeve? Ribbed tank top? Chunky sweater? Yes, please. Also, once you get your basic colors taken care of, you can branch out to different color combinations. Basically, any color mixed with navy or white can pass for nautical.

2. The White Pant/Skirt
You can go several different routes when it comes to buying pants. I personally love a nice pair of slim-cut white jeans, but if you want to get really themed, you can find yourself a pair of iconic sailor pants.


You'll also want a crisp white skirt, preferably pleated.


With your three striped shirts (from above), you have the potential of six nautical outfits when you have your white pants and your white skirt!

3. The navy pants/skirt
Now that you have your white bottoms, you will need your navy bottoms. While white is my summer go-to, navy is my summer AND winter color. You can wear it year-round.
For the pant, I prefer super dark skinny jeans. Peruse the denim wall at Gap or American Eagle and find a fit that works for you. You can also score some killer navy sailor flares.

White House Black Market

The same concept applies for your navy skirt. I have a super cute dark denim pencil skirt that looks so chic with all my striped tops. Again, J Crew and Gap are going to be great stores to pick up your skirts.

4. [Extra Credit] Red, red, red.
Not everyone feels brave enough to rock the red pant. But, you know what? It's not so bad. I have a pair of skinny, tomato red cords from Gap that I was afraid to wear for a few months, but once I started pairing them with my copious amounts of navy, I got much more comfortable.


5. Basics in red, navy, and white.
Okay, so you have your striped shirts and your bottoms taken care of. But, you can't just wear your three shirts over and over. Here's where you start to find your basics according to seasons.

Winter? Look for navy cardigans in chunky knits.
Summer? Scoop up red or white tank tops for layering.

If you start to feel overwhelmed, sit down and write out a list of what you have and don't have. If you already have a cotton cardigan in navy, look for one in a bright red. Or, if you find a cozy wool version, buy it! Tank tops save your life when it comes to layering--your navy and white striped painter's tee suddenly gets a lot more cool when layered over a red tank top.

Here's a sample list to start with: navy cardigan, navy v-neck pullover, rhite v-neck pullover, Red v-neck t-shirt, white v-neck t-shirt, red tank top, white tank top

The more you stick to your basic (nautical) colors when shopping, the more ways you'll be able to wear your new pieces. 75% of my closet is either red, navy, or white, and that means that the majority of my wardrobe automatically mixes and matches.

6. Fun Extras
Once you've covered all your basics, you can start to get fun with unique pieces. Show off your personality--I love lobsters, and anytime I see bright red crustaceans, I have to buy them. Maybe you love yachts or anchors or flags--buy cool tops or skirts that you can mix easily into your new nautical wardrobe.

Banana Republic

7. Dresses!
Sundresses are SO easy for days you're feeling lazy. Just stick to the basic rules of being nautical: navy, white, and red--preferably stripes.

Old Navy



8. Accessories
Here's another area where you can bring your personality into your outfits. I sound like a broken record by now, but go towards your basics--navy, red, and white. I also love how gold looks against all these colors

Old Navy

Old Navy

9. Shoes
As far as shoes…again, stick to your rules. I am a sucker for Sperry Top-Siders. In addition to being ridiculously comfortable, they are inherently…nautical. That's what they're made for--your nautical life. (Plus, you can get away with wearing them to work.) In the summer? Flip flops are your friend, and J Crew makes the cutest critter flip flops of your life. (I have a pair of white and navy critter flip flops with anchors, and I have worn them almost every summer day for the past three years.)

In closing, something to always be careful is being too costume-y. Yes, that captain's hat is cute, but unless you are a CAPTAIN, you should not wear it. Don't be nautical in the literal sense--you probably are not a sailor. But, take inspiration, and run with it.

I hope this guide has helped you! Just remember your basics, and then expand from there!


  1. love the post as Im also a lover of all things nautical. thanks!

  2. Ha! It's like looking into my wardrobe... Where's the LL Bean boat and tote and knot bracelets? xx love the blog! Knot Just Nautical

  3. Along with the traditional red, white, and blue, I love to add a pop of sunflower yellow into my nautical wardrobe (think: colors in nautical flags). Either a scarf or cardigan in the winter and a tanktop or sundress in the summer.

    I love the J. Crew critter flip-flops and Sperry also has great flip-flops (and they last forever!).

  4. Great post. I just bought bright red pants at gap and cannot wait to wear them! I really need some new white pants/jeans though!

  5. O.K. you must stop showing cute bags :) Hello $9.94 gotta get this. Do you think my husband will go along with building a whole new wing on our house for all my bags?

  6. Thanks, Kate, for the opportunity! I obsess over your blog daily, and you hurt my poor Mastercard.


  7. I love either navy, white, or red paired with a beige bottom. I don't feel that comfortable wearing red, white and navy in the same outfit. Is that a no-no Tierney? Should it be navy and white or red and white, but not all three?

  8. Hi, Chalupa:

    You can definitely wear all three! I do it all the time! They're such classic colors--you can't go wrong!

    But, don't ever wear anything you're not comfortable with. White or navy is a nice, safe neutral to start with--no one is going to look at you funny if you use that as your base. Now, red is a little more gusty as your main piece, but don't worry! I know you can do it!

  9. Ah, fantastic tips! I definitely think I need some more red. :)

  10. What a great post! I need to see if I'm brave enough to pull off the red pants look!


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