6 May 2015

"Nautical Chic" at Beyond Retro, Kingsland Road

Ahoy! I don't know if many of you have heard about Beyond Retro's newest store on Kingsland Road, but if you're a fan of vintage and retro wares, it's not to be missed. Firstly, it's HUGE. And secondly, it has a stage that hosts talks like the one I attended a few weeks ago, called "Nautical Chic".

As with the Jonathan Saunders sample sale, I found out about this event on Eventbrite (can't recommend the site enough for cheap events).

The event was advertised as a brief summary into the history of Nautical fashion, hosted by fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart. Amber has released a book titled "Nautical Chic" (which was available to buy at the event for a discounted price) and often lectures at the London College of Fashion.


There's no denying that nautical seems to be less of a trend, and more of a fashion staple. After all, where would we be without Breton tops, anchor prints and square collars?

Below is the stage, suitably nautical with a saucy Sailor Jerry mascot cut out. Sailor Jerry sponsored the event, which makes sense as they have a brilliantly nautical namesake... but the best bit was that on arrival we all got a rather strong rum and coke to whet our appetites.

Here are some fun facts I learned about Nautical fashion at the event:

1. Back in the day, the main location of battle was at sea. Nautical fashion stems from navy uniforms, and was originally associated with patriotism at times of war and invasion.

2. Blue - a colour heavily linked to all things nautical - was the French king's colour. Britain adopted it when we invaded the froggie country, because we're vicious like that (sorry, France).

3. Unlike other soldier's uniforms, the navy uniform was more fitted to men's form, which drove the ladies cray cray. Avid readers of Jane Austen may remember the part in Pride & Prejudice when the navy went by on their horses and drove the Bennett sisters into a frenzy by their appearance.

Incidentally, the tightness of navy uniforms have since been fetishised in fashion, particularly by that Jean Paul Gaultier Campaign in 1995. Ooer.

Brilliantly camp (source)

4. Coco Chanel was a huge fan of nautical dress (of course), and was one of the first women to adopt the nautical trend, taking inspiration from fishermen.

Coco Chanel, with a man wearing very small pants (source)

5. Many clothing features were strongly associated with sailor life, such as square collars and trousers. Yup, trousers were once seen as the working class's preferred choice of clothing, whereas society men wore breeches.

A child from yonder year - I want to say the 19th century - in a full sailor get-up

So it's pretty safe to say that nautical fashion is unique in that it's unisex, feminine, masculine, hypermasculine, and worn by children and adults alike. Impressive, right?

After the talk I got a lovely snap of Amber, complete with red hair, blue turban and nautical attire. She looked fabulous!

And on to the rest of the shop, which is a vintage magpie's dream. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

When you've exhausted yourself hunting around for some retro gems, you can pop into the adjoining restaurant, which serves an array of food (I spy a quesadilla on the menu, yum) and drinks (tea, coffee, milkshake, juices).

So that pretty much sums up my trip! If I've tempted you into learning more about the history of nautical fashion, Amber's book "Nautical Chic" is available to buy here.


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