What do you get when you combine red, white and navy blue? You get nautical flare, which currently is just about the hottest look in preppy style. Because nautical fashions evoke sailboat travel and include bright and bold colors, this is primarily a summertime trend. So how can you take advantage of this popular style without looking like a cruise director? Here are some tips for making it work.

Wear the Nautical Look With Style

Pick Your Poison

Less is more when it comes to pulling off this look. Chose one major piece with nautical styling and leave the other elements neutral. For example, a red-and-white-striped sweater can be paired with dark-wash jeans and sandals.

Pattern, Pattern Everywhere

Stripes of all sorts may be the hallmark of the nautical look, but they are not the only pattern option. White polka dots on navy blue can offer the same overall nautical impression. As for stripes, they are not created equal. Try wearing stripes of different widths or those displayed diagonally. Step out of the box and mix up patterns, it is the bold trend for this summer season.

Don’t Forget Dresses

Although white capri pants and sailor-tailored shorts work well when going nautical, long, flowing dresses can achieve the same feel. Try to find frocks with large collars that button up high, and consider adding a nautical grosgrain ribbon, like this from hairbow center, as a belt to accentuate your waist. Or you can go pinup retro with a short jumper in 1940s red with white edging details or even something reminiscent of a sailor suit.


Sometimes, just a touch of sea-going glamour is all that’s needed to boost an ensemble into the nautical realm. Gold buttons, especially those with anchors embossed on them, always serve this function well, as do fun rope details and wooden jewelry pieces. Navy watch caps or trench coats can be on point if you are looking for a more unique way to incorporate the trend into your wardrobe.

Beach Bomb

Swimwear is a logical place to find nautical styling. Where else would sailing-themed elements be as appropriate as on a cute bikini top with gold hardware and stripes paired with shorty shorts featuring rope ties? All things beach and water combine to lend glamour to standard beachwear pieces.

Expand the Palette

The nautical color scheme extends beyond just red, white and navy in today’s fashion looks. Grey-on-grey stripes can evoke the call of the ocean as well as creams and tans. Don’t be afraid to mix up your ensemble with some aqua or bright yellow touches.

Images Courtesy of Canva.

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About the Author: Patricia Davis Brown

Patricia, like her blog, is not a one-dimensional designer, which is evident in her accolades of 17 national design awards. Over a 38-year career in the industry, she has carved a niche in several areas of design. Licensed in interior design and certified in kitchen and bath design, she offers a full menu of design services ranging from whole house interior design, kitchen and bath design, lighting design, full remodels, commercial design and universal (ADA) design. Patricia is a sought-after speaker in the industry and has been published in many publications as seen on her interior design firm’s website, https://www.patriciadavisbrowndesigns.com/. She writes for such publications as QuinStreetinc, Relaxed Remodeler, and eHow.com talent offering design tips.