Whether you live five miles from the water or five hundred, it’s highly likely you have at least one pair of boat shoes in your closet. Since their introduction in the 1930’s, boat shoes have become an essential in the prep wardrobe. There are as many options on the market as there are names, so whether you call them boat shoes, deck shoes or topsiders, there’s a pair out there for you.
You might not realize it but boat shoes actually came about because of man’s best friend. When Paul Sperry noticed his cocker spaniel, Prince, could easily run across ice without slipping, he mimicked the paws by using a knife to cut siping into his shoes’ soles. Hence, the boat shoe was born. White is the traditional sole color, prized for its non-marking capabilities, but many nowadays have dark soles. Traditionally, boat shoes are made from leather and offer coated with oil to repel water.
Where to Wear
While boat shoes were originally designed to be worn on, well, boats, its pretty easy to find them almost anywhere these days. Depending on your office dress code, they can be worn at work just as easily as they can be worn in casual situations. If your boat shoes will actually be seeing the deck of a boat, make sure to stick with white non-marking soles. You don’t want to be leaving marks on your or somebody else’s boat.
1. Quoddy Boat Shoe ($265) – Three eyelets instead of the regular two on these made to order in the USA boat shoes
2. Oak Street Bootmakers Natural Boat Shoe ($262) – Natural Horween® Chromexcal leather, handcrafted in the USA
3. Allen Edmonds Fastball ($115) – Red stitching gives this boat shoe the look of America’s pastime
4. Eastland Freeport Boat Shoe ($90) – A hidden center gore lets you wear it as a lace-up or a laceless slip-on
5. Rancourt & Co. Read Boat Shoe ($215) – Not your typical leather color
6. Sebago Docksides Dark Brown Nubuck ($100) – Nubuck uppers, like your favorite buck shoes, rather than the typical leather
7. Frye Sully Boat ($148) – Super soft pebble grain leather
8. Sperry Top-Sider Salt-Stained Boat Shoe ($90) – The original boat shoe in salt-stained leather for that worn in look right out of the box