Full speed ahead, Mr. Barkley!

Given my track record with boats, you’d think I’d be big on ‘nautique’ – that’s nautically-inspired fashion for those at the back of the fashion class. Being a slightly nervous flier (10mgs of Valium and half a litre of vodka to get to Brittany) I’ve always preferred to travel on the water. The old adage ‘I can swim, but I can’t fly’ looms large in my legend.

I do have a problem with fruit machines and cinemas on boats (it’s not natural) and yes I have laid, awake and anxious, on my bunk during overnight crossings, dwelling on thoughts of Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio; but apart from the time I went to the wrong station and missed a cruise to Denmark (long story) my water-bound experiences have been broadly positive.

A year ago, I interviewed the amazing yachtswoman Dee Caffari. She’d completed the Vendee Globe around the world race, and her tales of life on the high seas were exhilarating. Although I’d cracked a few funnies about not being able to manage a slippery deck in a wedged sandal, she invited me onboard her boat last summer, to train with her crew ahead of another world record attempt.

Subsequently, I learnt a lot about sailing. I found out that (my favourite colour) green is a bad omen onboard a boat. I was asked to pack “lucky knickers” … given that all my lucky knickers are green, what was I going to do about that? I also found out there are no electric sockets for GHDs/hairdryers/heated rollers onboard a racing yacht! And there is no shower!! Even worse, the toilet is a (deep breath) bucket!!! I did a lot of sitting with my legs crossed, I can tell you.

Even on a massive boat (avec sockets and sanitary facilities), style is problematic. Let’s face it, unless you’re cruising the Caribbean, it’s impossible to look good on a ship. The wind factor is debilitating to anything but a scraped back ponytail (aka Croydon Facelift), and when you’re crossing the Channel in gale force conditions a ‘jaunty’, striped mini dress is hardly de rigeur.

It’s also hard to fathom how natutical themes are ever sexy; anchors? Gold? Boat shoes? Stripes *adds 10lbs alert* No offence to older readers, but nautique has always been the preserve of mature ladies who enjoy catalogue shopping and eating at the captain’s table. Shudder.

Still, it’s happening now (Elys of Wimbledon has put signs up and everything) so let’s make the best of it.

My biggest piece of advice to you is, unless holidaying (or actually on a boat) keep your nautique subtle. Just a hint is enough, as opposed to a full-on Poseidon costume – see how Claudia does it with aplomb, whilst the lady to her right looks a bit of a pranny.

A touch of nautique with a casual outfit can work well – not so much for going out; no one wants to look like they’re off on a date with Captain Birdseye.

This pretty tee from Top Shop works with jeans, or you could team this cute playsuit from Dotty P’s with non-nautical accessories.

I’d also invest in this lovely little sailor tee from Ben De Lisi’s new Principle’s range – it’s kinda cute, and perfect if you just want to make one nod to the trend this spring.

Be careful with knitwear as it’s all too easy to end up looking like a Littlewoods model circa 1985. For example, this little jersey top from Oasis is highly acceptable, but this monstrosity is not.

You’d also be well advised to steer well clear of anchors in any form. And forget the nautical blazer (help – it hurts my eyes!!)

If you do find yourself lounging on a private yacht off Cannes this summer (happens to me all the time) nautique can be pulled off. But, with all those stripes and skimpy bikini cuts, it helps if your figure is more Olive Oyl and less Popeye … doesn’t it always?

Nice life on the ocean waves.

Written by Johanna Payton