An Introduction to Nautical Themes

Spring is an interesting season. It starts with a warming of the winter cold that transitions the occasional, light snowfall into torrential downpours sometimes continuing for a week with no end. Contrasting the few weeks of rain, on occasion the cumulonimbus clouds dissipate to reveal a scintillating sun as the temperature simultaneously rises into the increasingly warm 80s. Make no mistake however, this is not a linear progression: the weather doesn’t actually go cold →  slightly less cold → slightly less cold + rain → actually warm. To demonstrate, it is mid-May and nature decided the nonstop rain and chilling drafts characteristic of April are more appropriate than brilliant blue skies and blooming flowers. Within a week the shorts/tee shirt ensemble has taken the backseat for jeans and a rain jacket.

Whatever, the world wants to delay the onset of shorts season by a few more weeks, so be it.

A few days ago a friend asked, “So tell me, what are gonna be the best trends this summer?” Aside from feeling slightly self conscious that she asked me for my opinion, I realized I hadn’t really been keeping up with what was in for spring/summer. Technically I knew looser fitting pants and mint colors were all-present on many designers’ S/S 16 shows but those aren’t looks the typical high schooler will ever wear (not until they hit the mainstream at least). Ever since I found “my look” last year – a white tee shirt coupled with shorts/pants of some sort and white sneakers – I haven’t had the need to update the clothes in my closet because of the ubiquity and versatility it offers. Realizing the dedicated followers of Optimal Outfits needed guidance and inspiration to navigate a spring/summer filled with pastel-laden walls and Sperry-shaped roundabouts, I went through my wardrobe to find a few looks that instantly bring to mind “spring.”


Breton stripes are perhaps the most spring thing I can recommend. Since it’s creation in 1858 as the standard wear for the French Navy and its later implementation into casual fashion in the 1920s, breton stripes have always been an underutilized weapon in most people’s arsenal (hint: this means wearing them makes you fashionable). The French intended the stripes to aid in finding sailors fallen overboard, for you the stripes help in standing out amongst a sea of pastel polos and pocket tees.

Seriously, it seems silly how some simple navy stripes can elevate your look so drastically yet it does. Consider this: most guys wear plain, solid colored button down shirts; a small subset of guys who think they know what they’re doing (but really don’t) splurge on tacky “palm tree” or “sailboat” print short sleeve button downs to wear with their salmon colored shorts and middle school era boat shoes. Meanwhile you’re rocking the classic, quintessential shirt that defines “lounging in my Mediterranean villa.”

Traditionally, the breton stripes are found on a 3/4 length sweater but in this case I found them on a button up from Gap. A lot of people laugh at this brand for reasons I can’t fully comprehend. While this was probably the store your mom dragged you into in the third grade to dress you up for the new school year in horrendously over-branded sweatshirts and nylon sweatpants, they’ve done plenty to change that. If there is one thing Gap does well, it is making quality basics at a reasonable price. Many of the simple pieces that see high usage (sweaters, jeans, chinos) I prefer to buy from them because of how well they construct the clothes. Initially a high $49.50 but later copped for a much more reasonable $38, working the sales is your best strategy to fill up your wardrobe with their essentials. From them I own two pants, two button ups, one sweater and a multitude of tee shirts and it wasn’t until after four years of nearly constant use did my favorite pair of jeans finally blow out its crotch.

I bet he thinks he’s cool because his shirt matches his belt

Wear the top with slim-fit blue jeans in a lighter wash (because it is summer after all) and white sneakers for a trendy take on a timeless look, or if you’re feeling particularly bold, don the shirt with a pair of white pants to fully embrace the vacationing aristocrat look.

I’ve already spoken a bit on the jeans/sneakers combination here and talked about cuffing your pants to show off your ankles here, so there isn’t too much to add about the lower half of the outfit.

The jeans I bought from Gap as a freshman in the fall of 2012; their continuity in fitting me thus implying I haven’t actually grown in height since then damn. (Drink your milk, kids) They started out as a fairly dark wash with almost no pre-fading and now look significantly lighter and have nice fades on the thighs and honeycombing around the knees. Unfortunately, I was not well-versed in my knowledge back in those dark days and so I washed them on a weekly basis, a mistake that no doubt limited their potential fading and one which was not corrected until recently.

Walking with the bees’ knees

Notice the pinrolled cuff of the jeans. This is probably the coolest thing a teacher ever taught me and made signing up for AP European History the greatest decision I ever made. Pinrolling creates a tight cuff just above your ankle; this is useful because it creates a slimmer silhouette and draws attention to the break in line (AKA showing off your kicks). The advantage of pinrolling over regular cuffing is how it tapers your pants almost effortlessly, but its main drawback is if you have large feet it can make them look comically big. Nonetheless, I highly recommend pinrolling all your non-skinny fit pants until someone asks what’s up with your clown shoes.

If you haven’t already copped white sneakers, your refusal to do so is borderline impressive. What started out as a trend among designers two summers ago has slowly filtered down to the general population. Last summer I hope aboard the hype train and copped these Stan Smiths that you’ve probably seen me in because I have a bad habit of wearing them nonstop. This year I’ve witnessed the white shoe train pick up two friends of mine (funnily enough one of them told me they’d bought their ticket while I was writing this post) – I’d like to say because of my insistence.

Blue watch alert
Everything about this outfit is awesome
Even the sculptures match his outfit

Closing thoughts:

  1. Nautical stripes are in, buy a pullover, sweater or shirt with the iconic stripes to embrace your inner longing of joining a Mediterranean yacht club.
  2. When it’s a bit chilly outside, light wash denim is the best pant to wear this summer.
  3. My next post will not feature my white sneakers, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pull out your card and order a pair right now.

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