Ice Cream and Crabbing and Spades, Oh my! This Staycation Season is All About British Seaside Style
There is something deliciously retro about the British seaside. Positively Victorian delights such as golden carousel horses, taffy pink sticks of rock and striped helter skelters are so firmly embedded in our visual lexicon that they simply are how a British holiday should look.
Going hand in hand with the instantly recognisable fairground aesthetics is a British seaside style which is just as iconic.
While many of us eschew the flashing lights and devious claw crane of the penny arcade for quaint harbours off the beaten track, the colourful seaside palette is a feature of the British coast which is rarely seen inland. There is something about the salty air and striking shades which positively inspires a simple, crisp style.
Image credit: Frank Pickvant
The recent experience of being confined between four walls during lockdowns has invited a certain bucolic sensibility into fashion with “cottagecore” becoming a wistful representation for our desire for the great outdoors.
As the August Bank Holiday approaches, there has been a turn in the fashion tide to quintessentially coastal pieces such as stripes, white linen and cable knits.
Since trips to the coast were popularised in the 18th century thanks to doctors promoting the revitalising powers of “taking the water”, the carefree charms of the seaside have generated their very own fashion microcosm.
According to BBC journalist Amanda Butchart, the seaside as a holiday destination:
“was a place, on the fringes of the nation, where the land meets the sea, where social rules could be broken. This heady, holiday atmosphere led to relaxed moral codes as well as relaxed wardrobes.”
While the public pearl-clutching behind a more relaxed wardrobe for women has dissipated, a distinctive mix of understatement and glamour gives beachside fashion it’s tousled sea salt flavour.
Realistically, our tempestuous climate means that British seaside dressing is as much about the waterproof rain mac as it is the breezy linen dress, but the more wistful items in our luggage contain the essence of our love affair with the seaside. In the words of Simon Middleton — founder of Blackshore, a hand-made coastal clothing company:
“The coast is where people go to relax, to dream, to get in touch with a different side of life and the human condition. It’s elemental.”
So while donning an oversized boyfriend shirt and your favourite cossie with the sun on your skin and the breeze in your hair might be a bit of a British Bank Holiday fantasy, there’s no more suitable place to dream it than by the sea!