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What to Wear on a Boat – Outfits to Inspire You

By Sandra Roussy June 20, 2023 Travel

Have you been invited to a friend’s sailboat or motor yacht? Are you wondering what you should wear and what type of footwear and accessories you should bring?

We typically wear casual and comfortable clothing on a boat, such as sundresses, shorts, and tank tops. Swimwear is also common, especially if the boat has a swimming area or if the weather is warm.

It is important to choose clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions and activity level, as well as clothing that is not too bulky or restrictive. Also, it’s a good idea to wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunblock for protection from the sun.

There is no specific clothing to wear on boats, but there are garments that are better suited for the elements that you will possibly face while on a boat excursion.

There are a few factors that will help you to choose your clothing, footwear, and accessories. First, what type of boat are you going to be on, and the second thing to keep in mind is the weather forecast. The best way to prepare for your boat trip is to be aware of the weather forecast and elements: rain, wind, swell, and sun exposure, for example.

Go-To Brands for Boat Clothing

These brands offer a variety of clothing items specifically designed for boating and other water-based activities, such as quick-drying shirts, shorts, swimwear, and life jackets. They often feature specialized materials and technologies to provide protection from the sun, wind, and water.

I have put together some outfits that are practical and that look good for a sailing adventure, a yacht day, a cruise ship, or a sport boat outing.

Ahoy Sailor

For sailing, it’s best to wear comfortable and suitable clothing that allows for ease of movement. These may include:

  • Lightweight tops, such as T-shirts or tank tops,
  • Quick-drying shorts or pants,
  • Sun-protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts or rash guards,
  • A hat or visor for sun protection,
  • Deck shoes or boat shoes (if shoes are allowed on the sailboat),
  • Lightweight waterproof or water-resistant jacket or windbreaker.

Women’s Molene Wool Striped Sweater


Women’s Sport Knit High Rise Elastic Waist Pull On Capri Pants

Women’s SeaCycled™ Authentic Original™ Boat Shoe

Costa del Mar Untangled Victoria Collection Polarized Sunglasses

SPerry Baseball Hat

Yacht Day

A motor yacht typically has more indoor space or shaded areas to stay out of the sun, but you will still be exposed to sun rays and UV protector gear is highly recommended.

What you wear on a yacht can vary depending on the setting and occasion, but often leans towards smart casual or semi-formal attire.

  • Sundresses
  • Khaki pants or shorts
  • Polo shirts or blouses
  • Light jackets or cardigans
  • Sandals or boat shoes
  • Sunglasses and a hat for sun protection

For more formal or upscale events, you may opt for evening wear, such as cocktail dresses or dress pants and blouses. It is important to dress appropriately for the occasion and check with the host or captain.

Women’s Plus Size Starfish Mid Rise Elastic Waist Pull On Crop Pants


Costa del Mar Waterwoman Polarized Sunglasses

Women’s Sea Bags Slim Cross Body Bag

Cruising Along

The clothing you wear on a cruise ship can vary depending on the itinerary, destination, and activities planned, but often includes a mix of casual and dressier outfits.

  • Casual wear such as sundresses, shorts, and tank tops for more relaxed activities and excursions.
  • Dressier outfits, such as slacks or skirts and blouses, for formal dinners and events.
  • Swimwear for pool or beach activities.
  • Light jackets or sweaters for cooler weather or air-conditioned areas.
  • Comfortable shoes for walking and excursions.
  • Sun-protective clothing, such as hats, sunglasses, and sunblock.

It is important to dress appropriately for the activities planned, as well as any specific dress codes indicated by the cruise line. Some cruises may have designated formal nights or theme parties, for which more formal or elaborate attire may be required.

Nautica Dress

Women’s Cotton Open Long Cardigan Sweater

Broad Brim Hat

Women’s Waveside PLUSHWAVE™ Slide Sandal

Sport Boating

Heading out on a speed or sport boat? You want comfortable and practical clothing. The attire should allow for ease of movement and protection from the elements.

  • Lightweight tops, such as T-shirts or tank tops
  • Quick-drying shorts or pants
  • Swimwear
  • Sun-protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts or rash guards
  • A hat or visor for sun protection
  • Deck shoes or boat shoes
  • Lightweight waterproof or water-resistant jacket or windbreaker

When you are participating in high-speed water sports, it is recommended to wear a life jacket or personal flotation device.

HH Ocean Race T-shirt

Sport Cap

Racing LIFALOFT™ Sailing Jacket




Let’s Have a Conversation:

Are you going boating? How will you dress? What are your favorite watersports clothing brands? Do you have any suggestions for our readers? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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The Author

Sandra is the middle-aged woman you hear about who sheds everything she owns and sets out into the world to rediscover and redefine herself. After more than twenty years spent in the fashion industry designing collections for brands such as La Senza, Victoria’s Secret, and JACOB Lingerie, she shifted her path and pursued her longtime passion for writing, traveling, and photography. Sandra was published in the NY Times best selling book Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. A deeply personal essay hand-picked by Elizabeth Gilbert about loss, facing fears, and going after dreams. Visit her website:

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