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Dark Nautical is a subgroup of the Nautical aesthetic. Though it shares a lot of imagery with both Nautical and Pirate aesthetics, it borrows much more from cottagecore in its romanticized interpretation of western life by the sea. Whereas Nautical tends to focus on much more higher economic class aesthetics and Pirate on chaotic, Dark Nautical centers around a more simple and harmonized life like cottagecore. What makes Dark Nautical distinct from cottagecore is its focus on the sea aspect of nature rather than the forest or meadows. Dark Nautical is also characterized by a healthy dose of melancholy that does not exist in any of the previously mentioned aesthetics. The aesthetic involves being both aware of the vast ocean: what it is capable of, and what lies below, as well as being isolated for long periods of time. This awareness of the danger involved with the sea aligns Dark Nautical with such aesthetics as Witchcore and Forestpunk. Originally conceived earlier, it experienced a resurgence in early 2021 as sea shanties became more popular. Earlier versions of the aesthetic includes such works as Moby Dick by Herman Melville and the works of H.P. Lovecraft.


Visuals of Dark Nautical revolve around the sea, especially the more mysterious, dark aspects. This can include:

  • Lighthouses (of which there are various types and designs)
  • Intricately woven rope or knots
  • Aran sweaters
  • Wood burning stoves
  • Chronometers
  • Sea salt
  • Sailing ships
  • Storms brewing
  • Fishing nets
  • Rowboats
  • Gas lamps
  • Sea monsters and creatures, such as serpents, merfolk, or giant squids
  • Seashells
  • Compasses
  • Old maps, especially the ones with monsters on them
  • Sea glass
  • Barometers
  • Brass diving helmets
  • Colored bottles
  • Rain and fog
  • Sea creatures
  • Rock pools


Dark Nautical fashion is reminiscent of the 18th and 19th centuries and primarily broken up into two categories: feminine and masculine, but one shouldn't feel restricted to only one of these categories; gender isn't binary and dark nautical isn't either.

The style is beachy yet dark, with lots of blues and grays. In cooler weather, comfy sweaters, thrifted goodies like flannels or old sweaters, and hand-knit beanies, socks and gloves are suggested. Warmer weather necessitates breezy articles such as linen skirts and loose-fitting tops.


  • Ankle-length dresses made of cotton or similar simple materials without much embellishments
  • White aprons
  • White underskirts
  • Long hair tied back or styled to be kept away from face
  • Blue or black and white striped stockings
  • Sturdy boots
  • Minimal jewelry; a brooch or a locket (containing the picture of your love lost at sea)


  • Aran or fisherman sweaters
  • Henley shirts (striped blue or black and white or solid colors of grey or blue)
  • Sturdy boots
  • Pipes
  • Flatcaps
  • Peacoats
  • Nautical tattoos (anchors, mermaids, compasses, etc.)
  • Oilskin jacket and sou'wester
  • Large beard
  • Little to no frivolities
  • Breeches, jeans, trousers, or other such simple garments



TV Series[]

  • Storm of the Century (1999)
  • Poldark (2015-19)
  • The Terror (2018)
  • Siren (2018-2020)
  • Nancy Drew (2019)


  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Pharos: A Ghost Story by Alice Thompson
  • What the Sea Wants by Tracy E. Banghart
  • The Visitors by Simon Sylvester
  • Tales of the Sea by Maggie Chiang
  • The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
  • Selected works of H.P Lovecraft
    • "The White Ship"
    • "The Terrible Old Man"
    • "What the Moon Brings"
    • "The Horror at Martin's Beach"
    • "The Call of Cthulhu"
    • At the Mountains of Madness
    • The Shadow over Innsmouth
  • Selected works of Edgar Allen Poe
    • "A Descent into the Maleström"
    • "MS. Found in a Bottle"
    • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
  • The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda Hall
  • Fog Magic by Julia L. Sauer
  • The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer
  • The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova
  • Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen
  • Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
  • The Kraken's Sacrifice by Katee Robert
  • The Memory Eater by Rebecca Mahoney


Other Media[]

  • Ghosts of Saltmarsh (5e D&D campaign)



  • The Longest Johns
  • The Dreadnoughts
  • Celtic Woman
  • Stan Rogers
  • David Coffin
  • Gordon Bok
  • Schooner Fare
  • Storm Weather Shanty Choir
  • Kraken Shanty Band
  • The Seadogs
  • Pyrates!
  • Ye Banished Privateers



  • "Sea Swallow Me" by The Cocteau Twins
  • "Constellations" by The Oh Hellos
  • "Wellerman" by The Longest Johns
  • "The Lighthouse Keeper" by Sam Smith
  • "The Call of Ktulu" by Metallica
  • "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Iron Maiden

Real world destinations[]

Some destinations in the real world have Nautical cultures comparable to the aesthetic of Dark Nautical. Some of these are:

  • Asturias, Spain
  • Brittany, France
  • Falkland Islands
  • Faroe Islands
  • Galicia, Spain
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • New England, United States
  • The Atlantic Provinces, Canada
  • United Kingdom


  • Going to the beach/shore
  • Tending to a lighthouse
  • Reading (see Media for suggestions)
  • Fishing
  • Sailing
  • Sipping rum, or single malt scotch whisky
  • Visiting a maritime museum
  • Befriending the seagulls
  • Deep-sea diving
  • Storm watching
  • Foraging for seaweed and shellfish (here's a guide to seaweed)
  • Cooking, baking (make seaweed bread!)
  • Knitting: hats, gloves and socks to keep you warm while walking along the coast
  • Witchcraft
  • Soaking in the tub surrounded by seashells and candles
  • Make your own sea salt
  • Listening to the BBC shipping forecast
  • Write letters to a pen pal or lover
  • Writing messages and putting them in a bottle and tossing them into the sea
  • Leaving offerings on the beach for the deep ones
  • Film photography
  • Collecting sea glass
  • Handicrafts such as carving driftwood or jewelry making from found objects
  • Befriending ghosts
  • Gazing at the horizon during storms to look for ghost ships