Ahoy there! Say hello to a wonderful new fashion book to add to your collection. Nautical Chic by Amber Jane Butchart charts our love of seaside fashion from its historical and practical origins to its present-day incarnation as a modern day style staple. I have always been a fan of the humble Breton stripe, there's something so eye-catching about those hypnotic horizontal lines than means I find it hard to go shopping without coming home with another stripey top. I feel similarly weak at the knees whenever I spot a sailor-style collar or a set of brass buttons and once owned a pair of wide legged blue sailor pants which I loved but was too scared to leave the house in!
I've long been an admirer of fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart, she has a great blog and has written another book Fashion Miscellany, a compendium of fashion anecdotes. Reading through Nautical Chic it's clear to see that Amber has a real love of all things nautical, rivera and pirate. I love how she goes into real detail into the origins of our favourite clothing, instead of using the usual tropes and references, she really gets into the hows and whys of the ways we dress.
The book is divided into five sections, each detailing a particular aspect or 'character' of nautical style: the officer, the sailor, the fisherman, the sportsman and, of course, the pirate. It's fascinating seeing how each of these individual influences have evolved to form what we now think of as nautical style. Amber incorporates both history and politics into her analysis of maritime fashion. I particular love the mention of the ship-shape hat that became popular in 18th century France at the time of Marie Antoinette, and then, much later became part of the inspiration behind milliner Philip Treacy's hat collection of 2013.
Nautical Chic also captures that chicness and sense of je ne sais quoi that is part of the iconic Breton top. Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn and Anna Karina and Edie Sedgwick all feature as stylish women who popularised the Breton top as 'a marker of effortless classic French chic' that is both 'bourgeois and bohemian'.
The book itself is gorgeous and scattered with quotes, illustrations and beautiful photographs. If you have even the smallest interest in nautical fashion, I'm sure you'll find something of interest in this book, so much of what we wear today is influenced by these styles and I learnt so many wonderful nuggets of fashion history through reading Amber's text. Now that we're getting into some warmer weather I will definitely be using this as some much needed Spring/ Summer fashion inspiration. As you know, stripes never go out of style.