- Below Deck -The Various ‘Below Deck’ Uniforms & Shirts, Explained By A Former Cast Member
Listen, let's just get right to it. As a life-long fan of Below Deck (which is to say, as a loyal watcher of the series since its 2013 premiere) I've always questioned why the crew changes shirts so often. I mean, I get it. It relates to ceremoniousness. It relates to the time of day. It relates to comfort. But the how and the exact why of it all has never been clear to me.
Thank goodness for former Below Deck star and series' co-founder of sorts, Adrienne Gang, because she has the answers.
She and I spoke about the drama this season on Below Deck Med (she thinks a lot of the stuff that went down — Hannah Ferrier's firing, Chef Tom's attitude, and Malia White's managerial approach — is mostly bullshit) and at the end of our conversation, I had to (had to!) ask for some clarity on the logistics and protocol behind all the crew quick-changes.
What is up with all those damn shirts.
"It's all about formality," Adrienne tells me. Here's the deal:
Change Into Your Reds!
On The Wellington this season, we see the crew in red t-shirts, Polos, water shirts, and sometimes red fleeces if there's a Mediterranean chill in the air. What's up with the reds?
Adrienne says that each boat will have their own "boat t-shirt" of sorts. It's the crew's most relaxed option when it comes to their various uniforms.
"When we don't have guests on board, everybody wears their boat t-shirts, because it's obviously more comfortable than walking around in epaulets when you're vacuuming, you know?"
The t-shirts aren't always red, though. We've seen navy, teal, light blue, and gray on various seasons of Below Deck, Below Deck Med, and Below Deck Sailing.
"The red is just the color scheme of the boat," Adrienne says of this season's t-shirt choice. It's "whatever the owners chose or the management chose or Bravo chose."
There might be a specific reason they went with red: "Red creates interesting color on camera," Adrienne says. "If everything is just black and white all the time, it wouldn't look interesting."
My one beef with the reds is that, after the charter guests leave, the crew is told to change into their reds before meeting in the salon for the tip meeting. To me, I'd be like, "Why do we need to change, let's just go straight to the salon and hand me my cash and some praise about my tablescaping and we'll deal with the shirts later!!!"
I'd be eager to get my money, is all, and having to have an outfit change before the meeting just seems like a delay of game and a delay of champagne in my hand.
Adrienne says that I'd be eager to change into my reds, no matter what.
"The second the guests leave the boat, I would recommend changing into something more comfortable. You can't wait to get out of [the more formal whites]. They're not comfortable. I'll get you an epaulet shirt. You can wear it around for a day and see how you feel," she laughs.
OK, so the boat t-shirts (in this case, the red Wellington t-shirts):
- Are comfortable
- Are casual
- Are for cleaning, doing other chores, and mid-day guest services
- The color and style is chosen by the boat owners (or perhaps by production, if you're filming a reality show)
- You want to change into them, even if it delays cash in hand
Change Into Your Whites!
The crew wears their whites to greet the guests, then after some touring of the yacht and pouring of drinks, they change back into their reds while the boat is en route to its evening anchorage.
The deck crew will often wear long-sleeve water shirts (in red) while the interior wears red Polo shirts and t-shirts. The chef usually wears a shirt made of his or her own tears, and wears an apron made of sadness and self-doubt. Color TBD.
"Obviously in the Caribbean when it's 150 degrees outside, you don't want to be wearing black all day long. That's not terribly comfortable. So white is the daytime [formal] attire," Adrienne says.
OK, so the white shirts...
- Are for formal daytime events, such as embarking and disembarking the guests
- They're not comfortable!!
- They're usually responsible for some sort of drama in the laundry, when the third stew loses someone's shirt, or doesn't clean it in time
- They're physically cooler than the black shirts
Change Into Your Blacks!
When you see the crew in their black shirts with the epaulets, you know it's about to go down. Fire dancers are usually on the way, the chef is microwaving some nachos and/or baking a giant penis cake, and the charter guests are usually so drunk and hangry that anything can happen.
The black shirts "are for nighttime," Adrienne explains. "It just looks more formal. It's more impressive to look at."
The interior crew wears their formal black shirts to serve dinner and after-dinner drinks and so do the deck crew, since they're usually pitching in with service; even the captain and the chef put on their formal black attire when night falls.
OK, so the black shirts with the epaulets:
- Are for formal occasions in the evenings
- Signal to all watching that drama is ahead
- Look great
- Could use some shimmer or sparkle if you ask me, but anyway
This season on Below Deck Med, you've got your reds, your whites, and your blacks. But ... "Almost every boat that I've worked on has, you know, different types of uniforms for different times and different things," Adrienne says.
That said, Below Deck the series wouldn't exist if yacht uniforms didn't exist...
Adrienne's friend was on charter and out at a bar with her crew — wearing their boat t-shirts!! — when Rebecca Taylor Henning (who'd become the Below Deck pitcher and producer) approached her and asked what she thought about making a reality show about the yachting industry.
"My friend said, 'I think it's a great idea. I want nothing to do with it. Call my friend Adrienne.'"
Thanks to the shirts, the rest is Below Deck history.