April 19, 2006
The word of the week is nautical. It means, "of or pertaining to ships, sailors or ocean navigation" How I love it! Just the word elicits white caps and salty spray. Ralph Lauren has surfed the waves to success with this classic style. CoCo Chanel, way back in the day, often sailed o'er the bounding main in her stunning collections. The great stars of yesteryear sported it with pride. Everyone who was anyone from the Vanderbilts to William Randolph Hearst to British Royalty (past and present) has strutted their stuff in this understated but terribly elegant style. Now it's your turn, maties!
The hottest trend in spring/summer fashion echoes back to the cool, crisp look that forever has been known as Cruise Wear. God only knows its true origins. Sometimes I think Cleopatra pulled-out the white linen with lapis lazuli jewelry when she set foot on her Pharoanic barge. Perhaps that's a bit extreme, but it was considered old hat when Hector was a pup.
Just look at what they chose for the uniforms when John Paul Jones established the American Navy in the 18th century. All the elements are the same. So many of my colleagues in Boyz Town have been bemoaning the loss of grace and style in our society. "Where are the elegant people?" — that's on the lips of gay guys from Southampton to Timbuktu. It's not that we're snobs, but puh-leez! We're afraid that Rome is about to fall all over again when you see people wearing tattered jeans and T-shirts to church. It's a big deal to get the twenty-somethings to dredge-up a necktie to attend a family funeral. The Nautical Look may just be our salvation. It's fun, it's simple, and it's so easy you can look good while you're coasting on automatic pilot. Stock up on the basics and you can't go wrong.
You know this one inside out: navy and white are the hallmarks. Dark blue blazers with brass buttons. Billowy white slacks in lightweight cotton. Brooks Brothers' ageless striped shirts. Topsiders or White Bucks. Pocket squares for the guys and silk scarves for the gals in bright red. Large, over-the-top Jackie-O sunglasses. Now that we all have sunscreen, we can actually get out there "on deck," so to speak, without looking like The Sea Hag by the end of the season. Ladies! Who doesn't have a decent string of pearls or some simple gold chains? (Believe me — it's a-okay if they're fake.) Gents! You can wear white socks without looking like Gomer Pyle. Jam a piece of navy-print neckwear in your pocket and you're ready to meet The Donald at The Club for The Gala the moment you dock.
Worried about money? Who the hell isn't? These days even the wealthy are riding high on Monday and pinching their pennies on Friday. It has to do with that thing called the Stock Market and its dysfunctional relationship with Alan Greenspan (now retired) and the stupid Federal Reserve. Trust me: the next recession and we're all going under. That's why we need to look good and set sail for the Isle of Chic while we still can.
Check the back of your closet for those clunky white shirts that everybody used to wear to work. (They're ship-shape for women, too.) You can always find them at thrift shops for a song, by the way. Soak them in a tub of hot water some bleach and bluing agent and voila — and you have one of the anchor pieces (no pun intended) of Nautical Hip. Remember how hot stripes were a couple of summers ago? My dears, they have found new life. Stores from Bergdorf's to Target are displaying thin cotton outerwear in blue or white or black. (All that spectator jazz is also back.) Wear a polo shirt with a white rag of a sweater tied around your shoulders and you, too are ready for the cover of Salty Vogue. Ahoy! See you on the poop deck, and order me a seabreeze, will you?