Our Top Tips On How to Wear Boat Shoes

by Welcome to Outsons
How to Clean Sperrys & Boat Shoes

Because of their name, you might think that boat shoes are simply for boating. However, there are countless looks, styles, and occasions where the boat shoe can be worn. From shorts to trousers, take a look at our definitive guide on how to wear the staple shoe.

With their short lace variations, rubber soles, and tight stitching details, boat shoes have gained worldwide popularity with their unique and striking design. Being both presentable and sophisticated, this shoe offers the support and comfort of a trainer, while displaying a mature look to any outfit. You can wear it with denim pants, a blazer, polo shirts, and when on a beach during warmer weather! Keep on reading to nail down this dress code.

Choosing Your Perfect Boat Shoe

Looking for the right pair of boat shoes can feel impossible at times, but luckily for you, we’ve created a guide to help you find the perfect pair. A few things to remember when picking out your boat shoes:

  • Make sure there’s half an inch of space between your big toe and the top of the shoe when you’re standing up.
  • The ball of your foot should fit neatly into the widest part of the shoe.
  • Have a quick walk around when you first try on the shoe to see if there are any gaps or tightness.
  • The back of the shoe shouldn’t move around when you’re walking as this can cause blisters.
  • If the budget is not an issue for you and you need several pairs for the summer months or if you’re someone who prefers versatility, add stylish and cool footwear to your wardrobe.
Boat Shoe
@Rui Silvestre via Unsplash

What are the Best Boat Shoes?

Brown Boat Shoes

Brown boat shoes are definitely one of the more popular styles when it comes to men’s deck shoes. They’re so widely in demand that there’s a pair for every pocket. For that reason, finding a cheap pair of men’s boat shoes will never be a problem. The reason why brown is such a popular colour is due to its ability to be worn with nearly enough every outfit. Whether you’re in the navy, tan, or even brown, the brown boat shoe will go. It’s also easy to wear both casually and smart, meaning it’s a great investment piece.

Navy Blue Boat Shoes

Boat shoes in navy blue are extremely versatile and just about go with most colours and pieces of clothing. However, they’re probably at their best when paired with light colours such as grey or a dusky burgundy. They’re also perfect if you want to achieve the full sailor look. To do that, all you need is a pair of navy chino shorts and a navy and white stripe T-shirt – an easy, quick summer outfit that’ll keep you cool and stylish.

Break Your Boat Shoes In

Now that you’ve chosen a pair of boat shoes, it is vital to break them in because you don’t want to find yourself with massive blisters every time you whip them out. Plus once they’ve been broken in you can wear them anytime with maximum comfort. So to break in your boat shoes, slowly work yourself into wearing them for a small amount of time each day. Walk around your house wearing them or wear them to simply run a quick errand.

Boat Shoe Socks

We now come to the question of do you wear socks with the boat shoe, and if you wish to show socks off. As the design is fairly open and you’d be able to see any ankle and trainer socks, then we’d say no to these, and go sockless. But, in today’s day and age, we have alternatives to sweaty, smelly feet in your sock-less shoes. You can buy small, ‘invisible’ socks that don’t show when you wear shoes like boat shoes and loafers, etc.

Boat Shoe Socks
@Matthew Sleeper via Unsplash

The Rules of Boat Shoes

By rules, we don’t strictly mean rules. These are basic guidelines that we believe will make your boat shoe-wearing days better.

  • Avoid wearing your best boat shoes in the winter. Boat shoes are a wonderful choice for the spring and summer when the weather’s at its best, but once autumn and winter hit, the design doesn’t match too well with your winter wear.
  • Avoid visible socks when wearing boat shoes – you can get away with going sock-less or go for the invisible sock.
  • Know what works well with boat shoes. Casual attire that’s summer-based is the best option. So think T-shirts, chinos, maybe some light smart trousers, but no suits or overly formal wear, please.

When Should You Wear Boat Shoes?

While we all wish we could rock our boat shoes every day, the fact is there are some occasions where the design works and others where it doesn’t. It’s a fairly casual shoe, so knowing the best place to wear it is key. For instance, when traveling, boat shoes are a good option to go for. Waiting in long lines and shuffling luggage from tram to tram can be hard on your feet, and with the increase in security through airports it’s nice to have a shoe that can easily slip on and off. Choosing a pair of boat shoes in a nice tan or brown colour will keep your shoes maintaining that clean look, even if the airport or tram is filthy. Pair them with some simple jeans and a T-shirt and you’ve got yourself a comfortable, casual outfit that’s perfect for travel.

To the Beach

This is what they’re designed for – the sun, sea, and beaches. There’s nothing like spending a day at the beach. The warm sand between your toes and the sun beating down upon you. While walking on the hot pier, boat shoes are perfect for protecting your feet from burning and are cool enough not to overheat your feet. Pick a pair in a light colour to match with the summery vibe, and match with a pair of shorts and a light button up shirt.

And if you’ve loved wearing your boat shoes to the beach, you could attempt to fit them into your office attire. It may be tricky, but when the weathers hot, what else is a man to do? Office outfits of course need to be kept business casual and professional. And although we’re not suggesting you should wear a full suit with a pair of boat shoes, you can still achieve a clean smart casual look. An all-black leather boat shoe is slick and suave for the office.

Boat Shoe
@Oleg Prachuk via pexels

Shorts and Boat Shoes

Boat shoes correspond well with shorts just as they do well with a trip to the beach. Often shorts and boat shoes are a fantastic match in the summer and on vacations. The best boat shoes for this pairing tend to contain a lighter feel and look to them. Avoid clunky and darker coloured boat shoes when pairing them with shorts. The light and airy feel of the shorts and boat shoes complement one another and together create the perfect look for the summer and springtime, making them an ideal pairing for all things sunny.

A Little History

Boat shoes first appeared in 1935 and were invented by none other than Paul Sperry, the inventor of the popular Sperry Top-Sider brand. Sperry created boat shoes for sailors in order to prevent them from sliding about on the decks. His inspiration for the soles of the shoes came from his dog, Prince’s paws, with the textured grip helping him stay steady even on slippery surfaces.

How to Wear Boat Shoes

  • There are four main factors to consider when choosing your boat shoe – style, fit, colour, and material.
  • Boat shoes can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion and colour choice of the shoe. Are you going for a modern boat shoe, or a super preppy look?
  • Boat shoes are best for spring and summer as they can be paired with chinos and shorts. The lightness of these complements the boat shoe well.
  • You can choose between either a canvas shoe or a leather version, all depending on your personal style.
  • Ditch the socks when wearing boat shoes. Go sock-less or opt for the invisible sock. This will make the shoes a whole lot more stylish.
Wear Boat Shoes
@Antony Trivet via pexels

On That Note

So, break out your boat shoes and incorporate them into your everyday style. Boat shoes have evolved immensely since Paul Sperry originally invented them, from being simply just shoe for the boats to now being worn by more than just sailors. The boat shoe is a fashion evolution that will surely continue to update. The boat shoe works well for a variety of occasions and is extremely comfortable to wear on a daily basis. To implement the boat shoe into your own style, wait for a nice spring or summer day to pull them out for a casual sharp look.

boat shoe
@RODNAE Productions via pexels

Feature image from pexels

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