What Is The Correct Attire For Classic Boating?


Stars and stripes are always in – Photo Shaun Fenn

Today’s topic is fashion related. Yes, we know that a t shirt and shorts is usually the go to boat attire. But with a classic boat you do have a social responsibility to be part of the scene. Do you really want to be in a day glow neon lime green shirt in a classic boat? No. You don’t and no one else wants you that way either. Now, you can also go to far and wear costume, or vintage, which “over done” can be a little odd. Like Star Trek convention odd!

Its one of the subtle dangers of matching cloths. It’s a fine line. To be honest, even our sexy Lancaster hats can be a bit much. Just ask your wife, if you can still find it after she hid it. So what is right? Well, first, who are we to have an opinion on what you wear on your boat? Well, we are Woody Boater and together we can decide.


This cool timeless look is available HERE at Asos

We like simple patterns that are timeless. For shirts, simple stripes, or patterns have been around at the time.If you are getting into the 1960’s fashion though, bolder colors and possibly some more pazazz.


Basically anything JFK would wear is OK  -photo John F. Kennedy Library / Zuma

But the stripes and solid colors always work.  Which brings up color, which may be the most important thing. A great site for reference is called VintageDancer, yeah yeah, we are not dancing, but its a great reference.

Color. Each period of time, has certain colors that were popular during that time period. So for example, if you own a 1948 boat, that was designed with a certain color pallet in mind.


Note the colors!

Not day glow lime green. But certainly a green. One way to figure this out is to google fashion from your time period. You will quickly get the jist of things. Khaki, Argyle, more earth torn versions of color.


Colors from Vintagedancer.com

Boats in the 50’s loved Pastel colors where as in the 70’s they shifted back to earth tones, browns ,tan, sunflower yellow, Avocado green. The point here is that you should be aware of the color trend of your era of boat. That way, you can get away with wearing a avocado t shirt in your 70’s Orange boat, and it fits. But you would look wrong in a 1950’s boat. See, wasn’t that simple. Now hats.

Hats. You can NEVER go wrong with a simple Ball Cap. Khaki, Blue, Black. The second you wonder into new shapes and colors you need to be aware that the Dale Earnhardt Hat is NEVER a go to. In fact, that hat doesn’t really go with anything, except a trailer. HEY, just say’n. This is fashion, we can be catty! As to your skipper cap. Sorry, the cheap ones are just as bad as the Dale Earnhardt hat. And maybe just maybe the Lancaster Hat, Maybe????? work in certain situations. But the fact is, they are somewhat costumeish on men. And costumish is not what we are going for here. But women? It works also sometimes. BUT???? OK, lets talk sunglasses!


Sheela and her special specs!

Sunglasses. OK, this is a big one. You need to make sure you are not wearing high tech orange mirrored sunglasses. I know you think you look cool, you don’t. Not on a classic boat. Simple RayBan’s Way fair are always OK, but after the 1940’s. Pre 1950’s you may consider The RayBan Aviators. There are of course lots of fun options here. Post 1950 stuff got fun, and for Women, real fun. Floor it in that area.


You know these are cool! Photo – klasik.org

The crazier the better. For men, stick to simple but period.


The real deal. Photo klasik.org


Blue Womens pre war sunglasses. Hell ya! – klasik.org

Consider green lenses, blue, not the grey of today. Also Clip ones were part of the look back in the day. Here is a great website on old sunglasses. CLICK HERE to Kalsik.org


Orange boat shoes? Not acording to the wife? But I like them

Shoes. OK, Simple boat shoes are always OK, Certain simple Keds are OK. Certain canvas shoes, yes. Red White and Blue Sperries? Well, we made the call on that last week. NO! And a HUGE NO. Clog CROCS. NO, No, NO! And I was a fan of them. But no! Not to mention they can be not so good boat shoes when they wear out.


Yeah, thats me back in the day! OUCH The blood red does go with the blue and tan though!

And you look like a dork in them. Sorry. Trust me, I heard it enough. Crocs have come out with a more boat shoe looking version. So? Maybe, But leather and canvas are made from a material that was used back in the day. That’s the way to go.


Funny thing, in an old phot, it all looks great, but today? This is the fine line of costume and timeless cool?

Sport Coats and nice shirts. You know what, we like that. Its not done enough, but many of our boats in the 1930s and 20’s were used in formal attire. So a nice button down shirt is nice. The Sport coat thing, could be a bit much if you are alone, but if you are the driver and have pals, its a fun thing. And the idea of a “Formal boat ride” is a fun idea. It might get a tad warm, but this is fashion. You know what they say?

This will be an ongoing feature on Woody Boater, as spring comes close we can talk shorts, swimsuits, more hats, watches, socks or no socks. maybe help people with there boats that are fashion challenged. Got a lime green Donzi?

31 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Doesn’t really matter what you wear when you own a old cruiser and work on it yourself. The Tyvek suit is the outer garment of necessity

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    So what happens to all my Woodyboater shirts that are the wrong color? My Woodyboater hat can only be worn off the boat? Now I’m just confused and it’s too early to start drinking. Wonder if there’s any bacon in the house.

  3. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    And for those of us that are color blind we are happy to show up wearing something that is not stained.
    After my divorce the X admitted to dressing me funny when she was pissed.
    Looks like shorts and “Sons of varnish ” shirts for me.

  4. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    The proper atire is NOT to be period correct. That looks like a costume. When woodyboating, one should wear a woodyboater T-shirt, basic earth tone shorts that don’t call attention away from the shirt, and safe non-marking footwear. Woodyboater hats are always an acceptable accessory, as is a varnish mug of caffeine in the morning or a woodyboater plastic wine glass in the evening.

  5. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    Genius Matt!
    Now you have opened up woodyboating to the fashion industry and found a secondary way of using the woodyboater tent at night at Mount Dora….. Here is comes fellow woodyboaters…. the first annual woodyboater fashion show! Tent, runway, lights, a few models and here we go…

  6. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Now I suppose it is back to H. Stockton in Atlanta for appropriate attire and those woody boater ties we talked about some time back and for those who can’t get there I suppose it is to Brooks Brothers for a pair of kakis, button down collar shirt topped off with a blue blazer

  7. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Look for me at Dora! I will be wearing a Dale Earnhardt jacket, grey lens sunglasses, my cheap captains cap, and definitely Crocks (unless I am bare foot). All this simply because I have a dislike of anyone telling me what I SHOULD be wearing.
    It is kind of like having your spelling corrected on a public forum.

    I don’t see the problem myself. (Image thanks to NASCAR.com)

  8. Kelly Wittenauer
    Kelly Wittenauer says:

    Typically t-shirt & shorts for me. Dressy attire would not be functional in a 12′ speedster. And a hat would quickly belong to Davy Jones! I do usually wear a recent, but vintage-appearing, yellow vinyl life vest in my yellow trimmed Aristocraft. But for those who want to dress in the era of their classic boat, I think period photos & advertisements would provide valuable info.

  9. Mo Sherrill
    Mo Sherrill says:

    Oh! I doubt you would see my wife or me in a 1920’s Chris 26 foot runabout wearing the attire of the day!! That for sure would be an award winning costume! We tried wearing swim suits of the period at one show and I itched all day from the wool in that suit- never again!! Even then I didn’t win any prize but of course it might have been because of the out-of-shape body inside the suit! LOL

  10. Bill and Linda
    Bill and Linda says:

    You neglected to mention very much about correct boating attire for the ladies. Would this be considered ok….?

    • Mo Sherrill
      Mo Sherrill says:

      Yes! I forgot to mention what my wife wore but she joined with me with the typical bathing attire of the day but her’s didn’t itch like mine- even our two boys ages 7 & 9 were dressed in the correct attire for the day, a fact that they have never forgiven us for!!! Needless to say we never did that again!!

      • dreed
        dreed says:

        Mo. You refinished my Riviera back in the 80’s or 90’s. Glad to see you are still involved in the hobby. “Flash” is back on Cdga. lake

  11. fashion researcher
    fashion researcher says:

    when you talk fashion you have to lean from the best in places such as Italy; I love the look of Riva Boats and some of the outfits worn say in places such as NIce France .

  12. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    Since I have a 100 ton Master’s Captain’s Licence since 1988, I always have been fond of wearing shirts with Alpeletts on the shoulders, to wear my four stripe bars. These days I would always buy a couple of Captain Shirts every time I would buy a new Classic Boat, and have the boats name embroidered on the shirts. I would wear them at Classic boat shows and evening dinner events at the shows. For the cruising days I would buy nice Polo shirts, again with the boats name on them.
    Over the past several years, and changing boats, it seems every couple of years, I now find a closet full of shirts with boat names and fond memories of wearing them.

  13. Dennis J Mykols
    Dennis J Mykols says:

    As for hats, I never worn then until I several years ago I started to my find my hair had thinned out so bad I would start to get sunburned! So I have a collection of Baseball type caps with each marque logo for the boat at the time, as well as almost every WoodyBoater cap offered. But one of my favorite caps of all times, is the ol’ salt’s Greek Fisherman’s cap. Can not go wrong with it, nautical look, without the costume look should you sport a white Captain’s hat. Seeing a guy in a Bayliner go by, wearing a white Captains hat, just makes me shake my head…

  14. Kentucky Wonder
    Kentucky Wonder says:

    Being a fairly traditional dresser, typical boating attire is khaki shorts (or slacks in cold weather) and a golf shirt with leather TEVA sandals. The trick is to wear microfiber versions of the clothes, because they look the part, do not scratch the boat, and most importantly, DRY QUICKLY when you get wet.

    The TEVA sandals have great grip on wet decks without being harmful to varnished finishes. Just make sure there are no pebbles in the treads before stepping onto the wood.

  15. J Funk
    J Funk says:

    I like the Captain’s Hat, and actually wear mine quite a bit while boating around our lake. It also stays on better than baseball caps when standing at the helm with the wind in your face. It’s the shape of the bill. Other boaters give the thumbs up for the small token of period-correct attire (maybe after calling the fashion police and telling each other the asylum has let the patients out again). I don’t care what they think, it makes me feel good when wearing it. Just another time machine. Make sure if you wear one it’s not one of the $5 cheapies.

  16. Greg Wallace
    Greg Wallace says:

    I realized a long time ago that when I’m driving a vintage boat or vintage car nobody is paying any attention to the occupant. So why should I care ?

  17. Gregory Jones
    Gregory Jones says:

    Usually any one of my 50+ vintage skipper caps…Lancaster being my favs. But got the wife and myself matching flat toppers for sportier days. Lol!

  18. Maurizio Hublitz
    Maurizio Hublitz says:

    Well we see that on board our boat it is somewhat a timetravel, so we are trying to keep everything as a museum including magazines in the news stand and clothing. All items regarding safety we try to be as modern as possible.

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