Book Review – ‘Nautical Chic’ by Melanie Vandenbrouck

By Melanie Vandenbrouck, published October 2020

Abstract

Nautical Chic charts the sea’s complex relationship with fashion, from the birth of naval uniforms in the eighteenth century to the catwalks of the twenty-first century. In doing so, it debunks some nautical myths while throwing surprising light onto others. Dress arguably contributes to defining one’s identity and place in society, and the book’s chapters are appropriately organized by ‘characters’, following the influence that ‘the officer’, ‘the sailor’, ‘the fisherman’, ‘the sportsman’, and ‘the pirate’ have had on sartorial trends.

The first chapter, focused on the flamboyant figure of ‘the officer’, charts the fascinating cross-influences between fashion and military dress. As Amy Miller demonstrated in Dressed to Kill: British naval uniform, masculinity and contemporary fashion 1748–1857 (2007), early naval uniforms reflected contemporary civilian fashion. What fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart reveals, however, is how the Navy’s sharp tailoring in turn influenced fashion.

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Filed under: Popular Topics
Subjects include: Art & Music | Miscellaneous

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