July 28, 2013

Inspiration: Maritime Style

I recently spent some time on Massachusetts’ North Shore, and was really inspired by the nautical heritage of the area. Touring historic boats from America’s maritime past and spending relaxing days walking along the wharf made me want to bring some of that feeling back home with me.

Your style inspiration doesn’t always have to come from the pages of a magazine or store window displays, it can be as simple as being inspired by the area around you. For this Inspiration post, I paired different elements that all had some kind of maritime beginnings or detailings. It may not be meant for the open ocean or crab fishing, but it's a great subject matter to play with when styling an outfit.

I was always wary of the high maintenance associated with them, but I have recently become a big fan of waxed cotton jackets. They provide a unique style, which to me has always felt at home near the water.

Though Barbour and Belstaff made waxed cotton popular for motorcycling and other outdoor activities, it actually has its origins on the sea. From the late Middle Ages, sailors found that coating their sails in fish oils kept them from absorbing water. Over the centuries, this process was honed until the mid-1920s when paraffin wax was impregnated into woven cotton to produce a breathable, water-resistant, and pliable fabric.

The embroidered shirt is certainly not for everyone, but I find the pink shirt and cobalt anchors to be just the right balance of maritime and ‘go-to-hell’ homage embodied in coastal New England. Would I wear it sailing? No, but it is a nice way to bring the memories of sailing back to the city with me.

The henley is another menswear staple that has nautical origins. It purportedly got its name because this collarless, button-placket shirt was traditionally used as the uniform for the rowing crews in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England.

Blue and white have a long-standing association with all things nautical. So do signal flags, anchors, and knotwork. I have said before, style is in the details. Let your inspiration carry through to all aspects of your look, but make sure to stay this side of the costume-y line (maybe leave the captain’s hat at home).

In my Dressing for Independence Day post, I wound up putting a lapel pin in the point of my shirt collar and really liked the way it looked. I carried that through to this post with this anchor lapel pin. It is an unexpected touch that gives your style an extra something.

Boat shoes were the obvious choice for a post on maritime inspiration, and I’m okay with that. I like shoes that are interesting, be it broguing or moccasin stitching. For me, boat shoes are the perfect summer shoe. They can be dressed up or down and, when broken in, are just about the most comfortable thing you can wear.

Jacket and shirt by Nautica; Henley by Perry Ellis; Chinos by Uniqlo;
Shoes by Sebago; Lapel pin by Ted Baker; Belt by J.Crew;
Bracelet from American Eagle

Despite the historical correlations I am making for my choices, inspiration shouldn’t be analytical. I had already chosen and shot the look for this post before doing the research and finding out the origins of some of the pieces that I chose. Go with your instincts and you will rarely go wrong.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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