10 Essential Items for Your Sailing Clothing Wardrobe

10 Essential Items for Your Sailing Clothing Wardrobe

A Guide to Your Top 10 Must-Have Sailing Clothes 

The 37th America's Cup, on between 22nd August and 27th October 2024, is, of course, a highlight for every sailor, but also draws countless fans from across the globe, who can't get enough of the high winds, close calls, and pulse-quickening excitement. 

And it's safe to say, the Holland family is one of those fans. 

While our roots are firmly planted in the countryside, the ocean has always held a special place in our family's heart. You could even say it's part of our heritage. 

Malcolm Holland, the visionary behind Hollands Country Clothing and my grandfather, was not only a successful entrepreneur but also a passionate sailor. He built his own boat and spent countless hours navigating the open waters, instilling in us a deep appreciation for the sport and its unique culture.

His love for sailing has trickled down through the generations, shaping our understanding of what it means to truly appreciate the sea. Including the knowledge of what makes a great ensemble for life on the water.

So, with this in mind, we thought we'd take the opportunity to share the experience and passion that my grandfather brought by compiling this comprehensive guide. We've got the ten key items you need to build up your sailing wardrobe, so let's take a look at what they are. 


1. Sailing Jacket

Keeping the wind and rain at bay so you can stay comfortable, warm, and dry? Music to a sailor's ears! And that's where the trusty sailing jacket comes in. 

Musto Championship Aqua Hoodie Jacket in Black against a white background

When choosing your new go-to, there are a few things worth bearing in mind:

  • Waterproof Rating: You're out on the water, the weather is unpredictable, and splashes are inevitable - it just makes sense for your main outer layer to be a waterproof jacket. Opt for one with a high rating, but remember to check for breathability factor too. 
  • Adjustable Features: Any good jacket should feel like it was made just for you, and that's the beauty of having adjustable cuffs, hems, and hoods. You can customise the fit and make sure it fits as it should. 
  • Reinforced Fabric: Here's a pro tip - check for reinforced areas in high-wear spots like elbows and shoulders. It might seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference in the jacket's durability. 

Helly Hansen and Musto are two of the fantastic brands featured in our wide range of sailing jackets, so take a look and you'll be spoilt for choice!


2. Base Layers

The key to any good outdoor outfit is layering, and that includes your sailing clothes. Base layers allow you to start out successfully.

Musto Mens LPX Cooling Long Sleeve T-Shirt in Grey Melange against a white background

Now, you've probably heard the term "moisture-wicking properties" thrown around when talking about base layers. But what does that actually mean?

Well, it's simple: it's what helps essential body temperature regulation. You'll feel cool when it's hot, and warm when it's chilly. A win-win combination if you ask us!

You can pick up both long sleeve tops and long johns in our collection of baselayers, so make sure you get them on your packing list. They may not be the flashiest part of your sailing outfit, but they're essential for a successful day and a comfortable feeling.  


3. Sailing T-Shirt or Polo Shirt

An everyday shirt might seem like a good idea at the time, but a well-chosen sailing t-shirt or polo shirt is where the magic happens.

Musto Polo Shirt in white against a white background

Shirts specifically designed for sailing often have features which your standard tee doesn't. And when you're trying to focus on the demands of the boat (and enjoy yourself at the same time!) then it's these choices which you'll be thankful for.

So, what should you be looking for when making the decision? Let's break it down:

  • First off, you want something made from lightweight and breathable materials. This ensures you stay cool and comfortable, even when the breeze picks up.
  • Secondly, look for shirts with quick-drying properties too—because let's face it, a little splash of water shouldn't slow you down.
  • Thirdly, choose designs with minimal seams to reduce chafing and irritation during prolonged wear.
  • Lastly, don't forget about sun protection. It can be useful to go for shirts with UV protection, particularly if you're heading out in warmer weather. 

Whether you love a classic t-shirt or a smart polo shirt, we have everything you need to stock up on these essential garments. 


4. Mid Layers

Nobody wants to feel like the Michelin Man while sailing. That's where the right mid layers come in handy.

Helly Hansen Mens HP Windproof Fleece 2.0 in Cobalt Blue against a white background

The key here is to find something that provides warmth without adding unnecessary bulk. Think of it as your Goldilocks layer—not too heavy, not too light, but just right.

So what options do you have? Well, the possibilities are endless. You could go for a classic fleece jacket, a versatile softshell, or even a lightweight down jacket, depending on the weather conditions. Look for designs with features like zippered pockets and adjustable hems for added convenience and customisation.

Personally, we're big fans of fleece jackets like the Helly Hansen HP Windproof Fleece Jacket 2.0. Lightweight, warm, and quick-drying—perfect for those unpredictable days on the water. But we have a fantastic selection of all types of materials and designs, so there's bound to be a new favourite in our full collection of midlayers.


5. Sailing Trousers or Shorts

When you're out on the water, your choice of legwear depends a lot on the weather.

Musto EVO Deck UV Fast Drying Shorts In Light Stone against a white background

If it's a bit cooler or you're facing rougher conditions, sailing trousers are your best bet. These provide full coverage, keeping you warm and protected from spray. Look for reinforced knees and seat areas, adjustable waistbands, and ankles to ensure a snug fit and keep the water out.

On the other hand, if it's a sunny day and you're in for some summer sailing, shorts are the way to go. They offer freedom of movement and keep you cool when the sun's out.

And here's some great news: no matter whether you're a trouser or short kind of person, they often come with quick-drying materials and water-repellent finishes, perfect for those occasional splashes.

You could also opt for sailing tights, which are incredibly versatile and move with you for active days. Wear them on their own or underneath your shorts if you want added sun protection for your legs.

Check out our full collections below:


6. Sailing Gilet

If there's one thing we can guarantee, it's that some days the weather never really seems to make up its mind. 

Musto Snug Vest 2.0 in Navy/Cinder On A White Background #colour_navy-cinder

Having a sailing gilet on hand is an easy answer to these days. Adhering to the philosophy of always being there when you need it but never in the way, this garment quickly becomes your go-to piece of gear. 

All it takes is slipping it on over your base layer or under your jacket, and just like that, you're cosy and warm again, ready to take on whatever the cold weather throws your way. And the best part? It doesn't restrict your movement, so you can still move around the boat with ease. 

We have brilliant choices in our extensive collection of gilets, whether you love something slick and technical or more classic and insulated.



7. Sailing Shoes

Ever chosen the wrong tool for a job and cursed yourself for your mistake? Don't make the same mistake with your pair of shoes for life on deck!

Musto Dynamic Pro II In True Navy White on a white background

There are a few different types of footwear you can go for, which all serve slightly different purposes:

  • Sailing Boots: Offer full coverage and ankle support, making them ideal for rough conditions and colder weather. They are often waterproof and insulated to keep your feet dry and warm. 
  • Deck Shoes (aka Boat Shoes): These are great for a more casual and lightweight option in warmer weather and for more relaxed sailing. You can usually expect to find key features such as non-marking soles and quick-drying materials.
  • Sailing Trainers: An easy go-to for more active sailing adventures, offering a balance of support and agility. They also give an overall more modern and sporty look. 

We all know that sailing conditions can change in the blink of an eye. One moment you're basking in the sun, the next you're battling wind and waves. Having a variety of footwear options ensures you're prepared for whatever the days bring. So, if you're taking a long sailing trip, it's wise to pack some different styles.


8. Sailing Salopettes

If you'd like to layer up securely, say in colder weather or when you're particularly active on deck, sailing salopettes are what you have been looking for.

Musto Womens BR1 Channel Trousers in True Navy

We call them one-piece wonders and that's because they have plenty of reasons to be part of your sailing wardrobe:

  • Protection from the Elements: Wind, spray, and sudden rain showers can quickly dampen your spirits (and your clothing). Adjustable shoulder straps and high backs create a secure barrier against the elements that you will be thankful for when the rain starts pelting down!
  • Durability: Reinforced knees and seat areas withstand even the toughest tasks on deck. But don't worry about that dread clammy feeling - often these overalls are made with breathable fabrics so moisture is able to escape and prevent you overheating.
  • Extra Layering: In colder conditions, salopettes offer an extra layer of insulation, keeping you warm and comfortable as you navigate the waves. You can wear them over base layers and don't forget to pair them with a waterproof sailing jacket for exceptional foul weather gear. 

And with our extensive range of styles and features, you're bound to find the perfect pair of salopettes that suits your style and sailing needs.


9. Accessories 

Musto Essential Fast Dry Crew Cap in True Navy on White background #colour_true-navy

Here, we're talking your hats, gloves, neck gaiters, socks... all those little finishing touches that can be the fine line between comfortable and uncomfortable.

You don't want a hat that flies off your head every time there's a gust of wind, or socks that slip down into your shoes every time you walk across deck. So while you may focus on technical clothing for sailing, make sure you're not forgetting about your accessories. 

For example, there are plenty of different sailing hats:

  • A wide brim hat shields your face, neck, and ears from harmful UV rays and glare off the water, offering extensive sun protection for sailors.
  • You could also opt for a baseball cap for a more sporty look or a beanie hat for the cooler weather.
  • Neck gaiters are also a fantastic option due to their versatility - wear them as they are, as a face mask, or a sweatband.

Protecting your hands is also crucial, especially when handling ropes and dealing with harsh weather conditions, and sailing gloves are carefully designed to suit life on the water. Plus sailing socks are exactly what's needed to keep your feet comfy in your chosen footwear.


10. Safety Gear

Imagine you're out on the water and unexpectedly encounter rough seas or strong winds, leading to a capsize or a fall overboard.

Musto Regatta Buoyancy Aid in True Red On A White Background

In such situations, a well-fitted life jacket instantly becomes your best friend. It provides crucial buoyancy, keeping you afloat until help arrives or until you can safely reboard your vessel. Without a life jacket, even the strongest swimmers can struggle to stay above water, especially in cold or turbulent conditions.

Buoyancy aids offer a similar level of protection, but with a focus on comfort and mobility. While they may not provide the same level of buoyancy as a life jacket, they're perfect for activities like dinghy sailing or kayaking, where freedom of movement is essential.

Proper safety gear is not just a recommendation; it's a necessity for every sailor. Life jackets and buoyancy aids are critical components of this gear, serving as your lifeline in emergencies.



As we bring this guide to a close, I'm again reminded of the rich heritage that fuels our passion for sailing at Hollands Country Clothing.

From the days of my grandfather, Malcolm Holland, who built his own boat and sailed with boundless enthusiasm, to the upcoming excitement of the 37th America's Cup, there's so much to love about this fantastic sport.

So, as the winds beckon and the waves call your name, trust in us to outfit you for the voyage ahead. Check out our full collection of sailing clothing today and set sail with confidence.

What are your sailing essentials? Are there any must-have items we missed? We'd love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or get in touch, and let's continue the conversation.


About the Author

Matthew Holland brings a wealth of expertise and passion to the world of shooting. Residing and working in the beautiful Cheshire countryside, Matthew not only writes about shooting experiences but lives them firsthand. As a member of a regular shoot, he draws from his personal experiences to share insights and recommendations for this country sport. Combining his practical knowledge with a genuine love for country living, Matthew is your trusted guide to all things shooting and hunting.

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