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My husband and I have been invited to an evening "cruise" party aboard a "yacht"; the suggested attire is "Nautical business casual". Red, white and blue come to mind! Any suggestions?

Classic nautical colors are white and navy. A few other neutrals and bright colors can also set sail when white and navy tones are the basics, particularly when white dominates. Gold and silver mix well and are considered “nautical” only when mixed with white and/or navy. Red, white, and blue combos lead you down a patriotic trail rather than nautical. That’s not to say that red cannot be worn for nautical, it can when mixed with white, but you want to avoid looking like a flag.

“ Nautical Business Casual” is an interesting twist. The business casual aspect suggests that the host’s attire preference for this party is that the guests do not wear shorts or jeans. And, it says that suits and ties, semi-formal wear, or dressy evening attire is not appropriate either. According to my book, Casual Power, this occasion calls for dressed-up “sporty” casual wear with a nautical flair.

This category is easier to define for a man than for a woman, as menswear is far more standardized than women’s is. For example, a classic outfit for your husband, one that fits into the nautical business casual realm includes these pieces: khakis, a white knit shirt, a navy blazer or navy cardigan sweater, deck shoes (brown soft-sole shoes, slip-on style), and a brown leather belt. He could also wear white trousers with a colored knit shirt or light sweater, such as yellow, ocean blue, sea-foam green, aquamarine, navy, or tan.

Women always have more fashion options. Your personal preferences will dictate the decision of wearing a skirt versus pants. Without knowing your coloring, body-type, or fashion personality, I can only make general recommendations. With that in mind, consider this outfit option: white slacks worn with a silver-toned blouse or top and a cardigan tied around your shoulders (such as a white one or even a striped style of navy, silver, and white). Soft-soled shoes are considered nautical and they are physically stabilizing for on-deck meandering. Opt for stylish shoes that are not obviously soft-soled.

Other outfit options include a stylish white blouse (perhaps the latest look, one that is made of a stretchy, almost see-through fabric with crisp cuffs and collar) worn with silk slacks (navy or camel), or a wrap/sarong skirt paired with a white blouse or knit top is also appropriate. Depending upon the climate, you may need a jacket or sweater, as decks can be breezy when sailing at night. Fabrics touting anchors, stars, sails, knotted ropes, horizontal stripes, etc. are all nautical designs. Shoulder epaulets and military-style buttons can also have a nautical flair.

Since it’s an evening party event, look stylish and complete. Although somewhat sporty, you can still add some glamour and be appropriate. It’s a yacht cruise, not just a sailboat, so don’t overdo the casual aspect by wearing ultra-relaxed cotton fabrics and sneakers.

Enjoy as it sounds like a fun party!

Best of luck to you,
Sherry Maysonave


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