We British have not been slackers when it comes to developing our own version of the nautical look. For example, the salty seadogs of Fishermen’s Friends, which I saw at the Everyman last week, all look splendid in their chunky jumpers and dungarees (with a special mention for James Purefoy – where’s he been hiding?).
But basically, whatever we call it – cruise, resort – we have the French to thank for it (naturellement). And so it is that the spring makes us want to dress like French sailors. The striped Breton top has long been a style staple for women and men, girls and boys, the world over, ever since Coco Chanel introduced the “marinière” in 1913. It was first worn around the 1850s by the seamen of Brittany but Chanel could see that it would work well for both men and women. Soon it became the off-duty look for intellectuals, artists and actors, and famous sporters have included James Dean, Picasso, Audrey Hepburn, Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, Edie Sedgwick, Brigitte Bardot and David Hockney.
Today it remains a key staple of those chic fashion collections we call “cruise” and “resort”. They first become available from November onwards, in time to cater for the Barbados set, but for our purposes in the UK they come in handy for wearing early spring.
The idea is that these are clothes to take us anywhere with ease and elegance, from deck to dinner, from sight-seeing to supper, and now also from boardroom to bar. Think relaxed and leisurely, yet sophisticated and co-ordinating, in a basic palette of navy and white, plus red, but then also black and white, and all white, mixed in with greys and nude shades, soft pinks, paintbox red, with lots of bling touches and embellishment detail.
The nautical trend is a clever one. It’s timeless and classic, but able to take on any number of modern touches so that it’s updated every year.
Most of us, men, women and children, absolutely love it – who doesn’t have a Breton striped top in their wardrobe, maybe even a navy blazer with or without gold anchor buttons? The white jeans, the blue or red culottes, the deck shoes … it’s all there, all put together for us, so we don’t have to work anything out. And it never dates or looks tired. Au contraire, it look fresh and jaunty on any age and shape.
Update this year by taking tips appropriately again from Chanel. Masterminded by the late Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s Cruise show for 2019 was at the Grand Palaisin Paris, with models catwalking beside a lifesize model of a passenger ship named La Pausa, after Coco Chanel’s villa in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, in the South of France.
For 2019, Chanel brought us graphic tees, long wide leg monochrome striped trousers, cute berets, white or silver Mary Jane flats and lots of matching sets, with a cropped top or jacket and high-waisted skirt or trouser bottom, Mix in signature Chanel tweeds, crisp whites, and sweaters emblazoned with La Pausa.
Those monochrome stripes are certainly a chic feature to look out for, especially on wide trousers. Simply pair with a logo tee and flat white trainers for an instant key into spring and summer 2019.
For its ready to wear SS19, Yves Saint Laurent had a great red and white shiny striped tee, worn under a grey tailored jacket and with leather shirts and boots – fun, cool and clubby, if not for everyone.
On the high street, Mint Velvet has a great classic blazer at £129, and it’s worth checking out Bonmarche for smart, easy separates in red, white and blue to mix and match through the season. There’s lots of pale blue and cream striped linen about, which will work well for any holidays you’ve got coming up.
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