Fashion: The new nautical wave - catch it if you can

Nautical style or Riviera chic returns with a fresh take on go-anywhere spring dressing. Stephanie Smith has tips on how to update this favourite super-stylish look.

Mattie cold shoulder sun dress, £120, due April at Oliver Bonas.

Some fashion stories are so inherently chic, so decidedly alluring and so easy to achieve that they simply have to be told over and over again.

Nautical, for example. Every year it returns, reinvented, reinterpreted and ready to ride the breaking wave of style once more.

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No wonder designers love it. Nautical updates itself quite naturally, taking on the characteristics of new season fashions and incorporating them into its own integral theme, without compromising itself or becoming watered down, but rather with a reinvigorated and refreshed new outlook.

Black dress, £100, from a selection at Betty Barclay.

For all that it is recognisable, nautical is certainly an eclectic look. It epitomises an aspirational way of life, a desire for freedom and leisure, but always stylishly so, whether chanelling the French and Italian rivieras or the British coast.

Riviera style is glamorous, lightweight and sophisticated, monied, in a colour palette that mirrors the Cote d’Azur, with white and ivory, neutral sand and stone tones, azure blue and bursts of bright colour. British seafaring style mixes in navy, cream, light knits and naval-inspired detailing.

This season, sleeves are a major trend across the fashion spectrum. Fluted, bell-shaped, tied, kimono, ruffled – it’s all about the statement sleeve lifting a classic or quite ordinary top or dress to fashionable new heights.

So, step forward the fluted-sleeve, nautical-striped top, which you can have in the traditional navy and white, the bolder red and white, or in black and white, nude and white, grey and white and sea blue and white (and other colour combinations are available).

Blazer, £119; white trousers, £89. oth at Mint Velvet.

For the perfect fluted-sleeve tops, check out Mint Velvet, which has standalone stores in Harrogate, York and Ilkley, as well as departments in John Lewis and House of Fraser stores.

Head there too for the ideal nautical blazer, just like the one featured here, with its classic gold buttons and on-trend slouchy boyfriend style. Team with wide cropped trousers for the most up-to-date way to wear your blazer (although it’s always going to look good with skinny crops or flung over a striped tunic dress or floaty floral dress too).

A nautical-style blazer is a true classic that will never date and that you can always rely on to give pretty much any outfit an instant injection of upstyled glamour, so it’s definitely going to be a sound investment.

Adding a flash of accent colour, for example, chartreuse or orange or lemon, will bring a clean, modern look to a nautical-themed outfit, especially if you opt for one of this season’s knocked-back shades, as in bright colour slightly marled or watered, giving a softer and more flattering edge.

Maka striped trainers, £129, at Jigsaw.

Tailored denim is also bringing new chic and streetwise options to the nautical line-up, but keep it smart, with no fraying or fading, or the whole look could go horribly late Eighties rock chick.

Cold shoulder tops and dresses (cold shoulder being the rather unappealing and chilly-sounding name given to cut-out holes that allow the shoulders to peep through) are also getting the nautical treatment, so look out for sundresses and chic tunic styles, to accessorise with chunky flats and metallic cross-body bags, for a contemporary take on Riviera style.

There’s a strong black and white foundation to modern nautical looks which give a sleek, sophisticated and graphic edge. Indeed, a black and white striped tee with a neutral, navy or black slim-leg trouser suit makes for an ideal work outfit (see Cos) and gives three separates that can mix and match in with many other pieces you may already have in your wardrobe. Again, a sound investment in everyday style.

Gant Diamond G tailored denim jacket, £195; shorts, £110, both at Gant, Victorial Gate, Leeds.
Stripe jumper, £59; wide trousers, £99. Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis.
Black dress, £100, from a selection at Betty Barclay.
Blazer, £119; white trousers, £89. oth at Mint Velvet.
Maka striped trainers, £129, at Jigsaw.
Gant Diamond G tailored denim jacket, £195; shorts, £110, both at Gant, Victorial Gate, Leeds.
Stripe jumper, £59; wide trousers, £99. Somerset by Alice Temperley at John Lewis.