The Shoe Snob Blog

April 12, 2010

Written by , Posted in News

Spring Time = Boat Shoes

Every year in the States, without fail, you see the boat shoes come out just as sure as the sun does. You would think that the wearing of boat shoes would be an American pastime considering the amount of men that break them out each year. And why wouldn’t they? The classic boat shoe serves many purposes. Not only are they used for boating activities but they have also been adopted into society as a fun and casual shoe to wear in the sun, serving as an alternative, thank god, to the flip-flop. Their versatility allows you to pair them with many different things, such as shorts, jeans, khakis and even certain trousers. This, in turn, gives you a whole new look each sunny season to incorporate into your wardrobe.

Left Shoe: Blue patent boat shoe by Paul Smith
Right Shoe: Grey flannel boat shoe by Sperry Topsider

The boat shoe was invented by Paul Sperry in 1935. He created the idea of the boat shoe after watching his dog run easily over ice and snow without losing grip. After seeing this, he took a pair of shoes and cut siping (small slits that create grip) into the soles using a knife, thus creating the first boat shoe. The shoes then became a product used by many sailors before becoming popularized by the prep’s in America and the UK during the 1980’s. Ever since the 80’s the boat shoe has been considered a staple piece in the wardrobe of any preppy American male. However, up until a couple of years ago you would see the same boat shoe style year after year, never being reinvented. Sperry and Sebago had the domination on this market in those times and continue to be the ring leaders but now days you see them in all sorts of colors, materials and forms as well as being made by many different makers, even Ferragamo.

All three shoes by Salvatore Ferragamo

Whats great about their up and coming popularity is the fact that certain makers are now introducing versions of the boat shoe that can be used during the fall/winter season. An example would be the one pictured above right by Sperry in flannel or the two directly below. With this uprising of diversity in their styles offered they are quickly becoming a staple shoe for every man’s wardrobe and I have a feeling that they are on the verge of a super upcoming trend especially since designer labels like Lanvin are starting to make their own version of a boat shoe with a dress leather sole on it. So if you don’t own a pair and have always been curious about them, get a pair before every man in America has one and it will then just be like jumping on the band wagon.

Both Shoes Above: Band of Outsiders for Sperry

Left Shoes: Lanvin
Right Shoe: Sebago

Shoe Above By: Zara

How to wear them stylishly: Below, Justin Long with Band of Outsiders for Sperry


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