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What to Wear on a Boat: A Complete Guide


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Boat-related sales have boomed during the pandemic, topping a record $47 billion in 2020. Anecdotally, boat manufacturers are struggling to keep up due to the surge in first-time buyers.

And as gathering restrictions are lifted across the country and around the globe, people are planning events and outings. Of course, many of these are on the high seas or local rivers or lakes.

While many experienced seafarers are ready to step up the gangplank right now, many others may not know what to wear on a boat.

FYI, it’s not all spotless whites and bikinis.

In the following article, we’ll take a look at what you should wear when taking to the waves for an afternoon or longer.

Know Your Destination, Duration

Whether you’re hitting booze cruises off a great lake or sailing on a sound, find out how long you’ll be spending on the water.

Due to the wind and water, the temperature can suddenly cool even on sunny days. The longer you’re boating, the more you should plan on packing a variety of layers.

Of course, you want to look fashionable, but if you plan to sail for 12 hours or more, you may want to focus on more practical adventure wear. Sunscreen, engine oil, and other spills do happen on longer trips and can turn your boating outfit into a spotted tragedy.

T-Shirt Dress

One fashionable boating outfit is a stylish T-shirt dress. You’ll find this light garment perfect for slipping on over your bathing suit.

Many named designers have their own version of this dress, and for a short sail with friends, a white one is perfect for making you stand out against a deep blue background.

A Quick Drying Skirt

If the T-shirt dress isn’t your thing, look in your wardrobe for a comfortable skirt. Again, make sure the garment can easily go over your bathing suit.

Also, choose a skirt that drys quickly since you’re bound to get wet from your suit or the waves.

Linen Shorts

Comfortable and airy, linen shorts are great for a boat trip because they dry quickly. When selecting your shorts, make sure there isn’t excess fabric.

Billowing shorts will pick up the breeze like sailcloth, and you’ll be standing on deck looking like you’re ready to fly away.

For that same reason, you may want to choose a Bermuda short. They are slim fitting and give a little length to the leg for some sun protection.

Light Jacket or Sweatshirt

As we’ve said above, the temperature can change, and the wind can pick up on your booze cruise, so always bring along a light jacket or sweatshirt.

If you decide on a sweatshirt, make sure it has a hood for your hair. And if a jacket is more your thing, pick one that sheds water and stands up to the rain.

Practical Shoes

The most important thing about the shoes you choose to wear is their treads. Falling or slipping on a boat is often a bummer because, unfortunately, they often end with hard stops.

Lightweight sneakers with grippy soles or hiking sandals are a good choice. You may have to adjust your outfit a little bit, but you’ll be thankful later if the deck gets wet.

What to Wear on a Boat Is Simple

Choosing what to wear on a boat ride doesn’t have to be complicated as long as you remember how exposed to the elements you’ll be. There’s a good chance you’ll run into sun, rain, wind, and rocking waves — sometimes all on the same cruise.

So pack practical and remember you might be the most fashionable sailor if you’re the only one with a rain slicker when it starts to pour!

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