Fashion for the Sailor Girl

I am always amused when I read a fashion magazine showing stunning models dressed in heels and gorgeous outfits on yachts! Oh how I wish I was as glamorous as this! Sailing along on the bow in a stunning outfit, high heels onย with the wind not ruffling up my beautifully styled hair…


I am sad to destroy any illusions you might have had from magazines… women sailing do not look like this. In fact if they did, I think there would be a lot more women and men interested in sailing!

One of my crew has recently suggested we get some team T shirts made up. I think this is a fantastic idea so I started thinking about sailing fashion in general.

When you are sailing there are a few key outfits you need and some things you need to consider…

Wet Weather Gear

Quite possibly the most expensive sailing fashion item you are going to buy is your wet weather gear. There is no such thing as bad weather – just inappropriate clothing and good gear can make all the difference here! Looking good is also a key consideration here, as are a few other things –

  • Waterproofness – get something that is both breathable and waterproof! Don’t scrimp on $$. My last jacket lasted me eight years!
  • Jackets that come down to your hips, and have some nice deep warm fuzzy pockets, a hood, a warm fuzzy neck that can zip up and cover over half your face so just your eyes are peering out, and waterproof cuffs.
  • Also a bright colour or something with those reflective strips on there
  • Pants usually come with braces – so for girls it is good to get ones with a back flap so you can go to the loo without having to take off all your clothes – genius! Also for guys – get ones with a zip in the front that can open from the bottom for the same reason.
  • Dubarry boots – both comfortable, long lasting and fashionable. I love my Dubarry boots and they are HOT too!
  • Team this all up with a hat, sailing gloves and an inflatable life jacket and you are good to go!
  • Underneath I usually wear long socks, thermal pants, thermal long sleeve top and another jersey.

Note I wouldn’t recommend white pants as a good colour choice, but that was all they had in my size on sale. It is impossible to keep anything white clean on a yacht!



Yacht Club Clothes

Our club is pretty casual, so we don’t have to get dressed up to go in for a drink. However that might change when we get our brand new club building! Other clubs have a bit of a dress code, and I think it is polite for people to at least dress as if you were heading to any other restaurant or bar. This is the perfect opportunity to whip out the capri pants and blue and white striped top. This is also where your team T shirts come in to the spotlight and here is a pic of the Mermaids.



Cruising & Raft Up Clothes

The key considerations here are climbing over the life lines to get from one boat to another, or getting in and out of a dinghy and on to a yacht. Skirts can be a bit dodgy – I am just saying that it is very hard to climb from a dinghy up on to the side of the yacht without showing anyone left in the dinghy your knickers… So my suggestion – (and this is entirely up to you and perhaps also could depend on who is left in the dinghy) either wear really nice knickers or shorts! Same applies for climbing over lifelines to get from one boat to the next…

The other thing to think about is that unless you are getting on and off your yacht or dinghy from a marina – chances are you are going to get wet. Wet feet at best, possibly also a wet bum, and at its worst – you will get completely soaked. Instead of fashionable handbags, consider a switch to a waterproof bag – particularly for your phone and camera etc. Also take footwear that is going to be non-slip, flat and you aren’t going to be too upset if they get wet.


Party on Resolve in the marina

Party on Resolve in the marina


In On and Under the water

If you love the water then you will need some cool bikini’s to wear, something to look cool paddle boarding and your wetsuit snorkel and fins for under the water!

Clothes Ashore

Whether it is sightseeing, shopping, hiking or whatever – clothes ashore are of course essential and it is here you can cast aside all the complications of fashion on a boat and do whatever you like. Always pack a flash dress and some heels in case you get invited somewhere fancy, or if you are lucky enough to stumble across a lovely fish bag at a holiday house you are staying at – feel free to rock that out at the pub too – particularly if you are in Stewart Island. They love this kind of fashion there. (Sadly the bag did belong to the house and I only got to take it out that one time – have never had so many comments!)

The other outfit you need when you are a sailor girl is far from fashionable, however you do not want to get your nice clothes all messed up… so you need some…

Haul out clothes!

I tend to have a few sets as you can probably tell from the photograph I have a tendency to get more paint on me than on the clothes, and while they look terrible, having two sets means that I can wear a fresh set of messy clothes the next day. So in the haul out I recommend you have

  • Your old sailing boots – the ones before you bought your new Dubarry boots
  • Messy pants, T Shirt, Jersey and Jacket
  • Gardening Gloves
  • Ear muffs
  • Eye protection
  • A hat – so all the dust doesn’t get in your hair – yuck
  • Face mask so you aren’t breathing in that horrible stuff.



So – not convinced that I had covered everything, I put the word out to some other women sailors and asked their opinion on how they deal with fashion on boats. I had a fantastic response!

Some girls had some fantastic practical suggestions – Skorts – which are shorts with a skirt over the top – you get all the prettiness of a skirt but without flashing your knickers (or “showing everyone what you had for breakfast” as my dear friend Tracy would say!)

I picked up on a few new labels that aren’t stocked in New Zealand but they both have lovely online stores – Title Nine has got some gorgeous bright colours and one reader recommended the quality of their fabrics. The other was Athleta which also looks brilliant. I can feel a spend up coming on there!

Others recommended sarongs and a wrap called a “pareo” which looks like it can be tied different ways to make all sorts of lovely outfits. Jane suggested adding some accessories and chunky jewellery to snazz up an outfit but still allow you to hoist sails safely.

Many suggested fabrics that are quick drying, or that absorbed sweat – great suggestion!

Also another great recommendation was a poncho you could pull on for dinghy rides to stop you from getting splashed and overalls for the haulout yard.

Rona commented that in Europe in the 80’s, many sailor women preferred to go naked and sported “abundant peripheral hair…!” Others also liked that idea of going without clothing and just wearing sunscreen! Another handy tip was – painting your toenails so that people don’t notice your unshaven legs – fantastic idea!

I had some lovely positive comments about my Dubarry boots and the very sexy fish bag too!

Many were concerned for the health and safety of the model in the opening shot – Kim was concerned that she might get blown overboard, and others suggested she looked a bit – well – hungry…? A few worried that she might twist her ankle when stepping over a cleat with those heels on!

Elizabeth commented that some men and women turn up to their sailing lessons wearing suits or mini-skirts… perhaps those fashion magazines HAVE created a false sense of what is practical to wear on a yacht!

Thanks girls for all your wonderful feedback! It was lots of fun hearing your thoughts.

So there you have it – my guide to sailor girl fashion! What do you wear on your yacht? Any other suggestions let me know!


17 thoughts on “Fashion for the Sailor Girl

  1. Great post! Love the picture of the girl in heels. I can barely stand up on the boat with my Lil Grippers on without bumping into something, I can’t even begin to imagine trying to sail in heels!


  2. Love your post and it is funny. Mine did not shower, sticky hair, sea salt splash to my face. Terrible looking! Can even want to take a photo of myself. :v


  3. As my skipper told us, ‘you can party in your sailing gear but you can’t sail in your party gear’! Loved the post. Hair washing is soooo overrated (heehee)…. I swear by icebreaker thermals, even after 3 weeks they don’t smell! (Assuming you baby wipe wash your pits and re apply deodorant!) and after 10 months at sea they’re still brilliant.


    • Ohhhh I love that quote! “You can party in your sailing gear, but you can’t sail in your party gear”! Fantastic!
      Icebreaker is brilliant stuff isn’t it. I must get some more. Love that merino! And ahhhh baby wipes – aren’t they the best!
      Thanks for your comments! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought I had left a comment on this – maybe not – loved reading it and all so true – I have some great paint/antifoul splattered cloths that just gets me in the right mind-set!


    • Thanks Jackie, I am planning on getting some overalls… but not sure that I will want to get new ones all dirty…!?
      Hope you are well and enjoying the canal life! ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. Hi Vicki,
    Just found this and love it ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d add that you need “Devout South Pacific Village Clothing” too. Skirts may not be the best thing for rafting, clambering on board from the dinghy, etc. but you’ll need a knee-length or preferably longer skirt or sulu for visiting villages in Fiji, Vanuatu, and other devoutly Christian villages where it would be rude to show up in shorts (at least for your first visit). Happily skirts pack down super small and are easy to carry on the boat, plus you get a chance to feel pretty ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. Pingback: The Head of Design at Ikea on โ€œSamplingโ€ Versus Stealing in Fashion – Sail+Leisure

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