All You Need To Know About Choosing And Wearing Boat Shoes

Boat shoes are the classic footwear for this time of the year- when the sun is shining and when we need a type of shoe which is ventilated enough to bear the summer’s heat. They are popular and well loved by many men on Earth. But how much do you know about these iconic shoes, their features and why they are so popular?

This article below will provide you with information about the history of boat shoes and their features. There are also information about what you need to consider when you go out shopping of boat shoes and how to take care of them. At the end of the article, there are some tips and suggestions of what you should wear with your boat shoes to make sure you look trendy and stylish.

The History Of Boat Shoes

First, let’s get to know more about the history of this iconic footwear?

No one knows exactly when the ancient boat shoes were invented and by whom. You might get it right; boat shoes are first invented and developed so that they can be worn by sailors and boatmen. Before they were invented, these people need to have a firm foothold while they worked on their ships and boats. These decks were so slippery that normal shoes at that moment can’t help those men working and walking properly. Still there were problems with the shoes. Over time, these ancient shoes are developed a modified to be meet up with today’s standards and sense of style.

It is recorded that in the early 30s, a sailor called Pau Sperry, though that the current shoes were too much of a problem. He then observed his dog running across ice without any difficulty. He found that which allows his dog to run freely in a slippery surface is his dog’s special pad underneath the feet. The pad also had a herringbone like pattern, which Paul thought the support the good grip.

With that discovery in mind, Paul cut the sole of his sole just like what he saw from the pad of his dog feet and this is the invention of modern boat shoes as we see today. One more modification of Paul Sperry is that he changed the black sole into the white one. This would prevent the shoes from leaving the dark mark on the ground.

The boat shoes had been around until around 1940 when they became more popular to the public. Since then, there are hundreds of companies making boat shoes in various styles, colors and materials.

Significant Features Of Boat Shoes

Here are some of the most significant features of boat shoes:

  • For the upper sole: A boat shoe definitely has ability to repel water and resist stain.
  • They are often made in leather, suede and canvas with different colors- both dark and bright, as well as patterns such as checkered pattern or herringbone pattern.
  • For the toe: It was made in moccasin style with hand sewn and fine stitched lines.
  • Lacing system: Most of the boat shoes come with a 360 degree lacing system.
  • 3 eyelets.
  • Outer sole: It is often made from rubber. It is most popular in white color but there are other choices of colors as well.
  • Sole Pad comes with herringbone like pattern carved into its body.

What you need to consider when buying boat shoes:

There are a lot of things that you need to consider when choosing boat shoes. Three of the most important factors are materials, sizes and colors.


There are several materials for you to choose from including leather, suede leather and canvas. Each of them has their own pros and cons.

Leather boat shoes tend to be the most expensive. They are also available in limited color. However, they are soft and smooth. Also they would look nicer when they age over time.

A cheaper choice for you to consider is the suede leather. Also, you have a wide range of colors with this material, some of which would never be available with real leather boat shoe. It is also easier for you to care for suede leather. However, it looks a little bit more casual and of course, not as durable as real leather boat shoes.

Another popular material for you to consider is canvas. Canvas material is cheap. It also comes with many choices of colors, in both bright and dark shades. The main problem with canvas material is that it is quite tough on your skin. Also canvas boat shoes are for trendy look only. They would not last for a long time. And when they look worn out, they should be put away immediately.


Since boat shoes come in a wide range of colors, you might be overwhelmed with a lot of choices. Here are 2 things that you should remember. If you aim for a versatile pair of boat shoes to wear with a lot of clothes, go for one with neutral colors such as navy, brown, black or even beige. Boat shoes with these colors can also ensure that you can wear them for a long time. On the other hand, if you prefer something fun and trendy, go for bright colors such as red and yellow. You can consider boat shoes with pattern such as stripes as well. Keep in mind that these styles of shoes will go out of style quickly.


Choosing the right fit is crucial. It would ensure you have the utmost comfort while wearing the shoes. If the shoes are too wide, you wouldn’t have good grip onto the ground. On the other hand, if the shoes are too tight, your feet will definitely be hurt. It is best that you can go shopping in physical stores and try these shoes on. The best fit means that there is enough room for your entire feet a little bit of room between the top of the toe as well as the back of your feet. Then walk around the store with these shoes to see if they are too tight or too lose.

After you find yourself a pair of boat shoes that you love, you should break in the shoes to make sure you can wear it comfortably right away. Here is now you can use to break in boat shoes.

When you take the shoe from the store, wet them with water. Wear these shoes when they are wet. Keep on wearing them until they dry. It is a little bit uncomfortable but your shoes would break in quickly. And you are able to avoid some tough times wearing tight shoes which aren’t broke in before.

Another method you can try is applying oil to your boat shoes and use newspaper to warp them and prevent oil from drying quickly. Put the wrapped shoes in a dark place. When the boat shoes dry up, they break in thoroughly.

You may concern : 10 Coolest Boat Shoes For Men 2017

How To Care For Your Boat Shoes

In order to help your boat shoes last as long as possible, you should take care of your shoes properly. How to care for your boat shoes depend much on the material of the shoes. Here are some common tips:

Cleaning your shoes:

  • After you come back home, use a brush to gently brush off all of the dirt and deposits that get stuck in the shoes.
  • Wash your shoes by hand with warm water and mild detergent only. You should immediately wash the shoes when you go back from a rain or a boat trip. If salt particles stay on the shoes for a long time, it will degrade the quality of the material quickly.
  • For cleaning leather boat shoes. If your shoes are made from leather, make sure you use the product which is made for treating leather only. Polish your shoes regularly to make sure they always look nice. You can use the water based cream polish for the task. Don’t use liquid polish or any product that contain alcohol or silicone.
  • For cleaning suede boat shoes. You don’t have to use mild detergent to wash these shoes. On the other hand, you can use cornmeal and rub it onto the surface of the shoes. Leave the cornmeal on the shoes overnight and brush it off the day after.
  • For cleaning canvas boat shoes. Some shoe manufacturers claim that you can wash their shoes with the washing machine. However, it is safer to wash them by hand.
  • For treating tough spots on the shoes: You can use a mixture of water and vinegar and apply it onto the spot gently in circular motion. Wait for some time for the mixture to penetrate deeply into the fabric. Then wash it normally.
  • After you wash your shoes, leave them in a cool and well ventilated place for them to air naturally. Don’t hand them in a sunny place. The direct sunlight might degrade the quality of the shoes’ fabric.

Storing your boat shoes:

  • You should out your boat shoes into a shoe rack or a shoe tree so that they can retain their shape.
  • In addition, you can put a shoe horn inside these shoes to help them maintain their shape well.
  • If you don’t intend to use your boat shoes for a long time, you should put them into a shoe box and put them away in a dark cool place.

How To Wear Your Boat Shoes

After you are able to choose some good pair of boat shoes, it is important to know how to wear them well. In case of boat shoes, if you don’t handle this pair of shoes well, it would just look like you are a casual student, which is a bad thing if you are in your 30 or more. Luckily for us, it is not tricky at all to wear boat shoes. All you need to follow is some simple rules about the trousers and the socks. Along with some ideas of how to make it classic style or preppy style and you are good to go.

Here are some ideas and tips on how you can wear your boat shoes:

Make It Classic

With boat shoes, you have a huge selection of color to choose from, from navy, tan to dark brown and chocolate. While you can have fun experimenting your style with different choices of bold and colorful shoes, it is always safe and crucial to have a classic pair of boat shoes in your wardrobe. These pair should be made of leather with neutral color. They should be in moccasin style with rugged laces and of course, rubber sole. With these features, you can enjoy wearing boat shoes for a lot of occasions of different formality.

In case you want to look even more outstanding, go for clothes in solid or bright stripes. But make sure the colors are matching and bring out a pleasant look for you.

Try The Preppy Style

The best combination of clothes that you can try with your boat shoes is collared shirt and chinos. They would make a perfect preppy loom for you. Like the suggestion above, it is always a good idea to keep it classic and simple. Choose pastel colored clothe, a signature belt and your favorite boat shoes. You would never go wrong with them.

Show Your Ankle

Here is another tip you should remember when wearing boat shoes. Unless you want to copy the fashion sense of the 80s when students wore boat shoes with high socks, you should keep your ankle bare while wearing this type of shoes.

However, I am not saying that you shouldn’t wear socks with your boat shoes. Wearing socks is crucial if you want to feel comfortable on your shoes. Also it would make your shoes last longer. The tip here is to go for no show socks. They have shorter length and will not show themselves when you wear shoes with lower vamp like boat shoes.

Still you can choose not to wear socks at all. I have seen many people wearing boat shoes without wearing socks. After all, the choice is up for you to decide.

Pair With Pants Of Shorter Length

You can wear boat shoes with a lot of different types of trousers and jeans as well as suits. To make your look become more casual and stylish, try rolling your pants. Also when you roll up your pants, other people would be able to see the beauty of your shoe.

And since boat shoes are summer shoes, you can wear them with pants of shorter length such as slacks and shorts.

Make Sure Your Boat Shoes Look Nice

Finally, make sure you wear boat shoes that don’t look worn out. Some types of shoes such as Converse sneaker just look better when they start to show their wear and tear. It is not the case with a pair of boat shoe. They would look a bit dirty and you seem like a person who doesn’t care for your look when you wear a worn out pair of boat shoes. You can still wear your old favorite boat shoes but save it for informal event or when you need a pair to go to the super market.

On the other hand, if you wear boat shoes for a hangout or fancy dinner night, make sure you choose a nicer and newer pair.

Other Common Rules

Finally, here are some common rules you should know about wearing your boat shoes:

  • Boat shoes are for the summer. You should not wear them in the winter.
  • Boat shoes can replace your sneakers and loafers. Sneakers are more casual while some styles of loafers are a more formal.
  • You can wear boat shoes for a lot of occasions such as when you go travel, go to the beach or go to work.
  • In general, boat shoes should not be worn to formal events. They shouldn’t also be paired with formal clothing such as suits and coat.


Boat shoes are definitely a summer staple which can’t be replaced by other types of shoes. Their styles are kind of young and casual with a huge choice of materials and colors for you to choose from. Overall, if you want to build a versatile footwear wardrobe, having a pair of boat shoes is a thing that you must do.

I hope with the article above, you would be able to gain more knowledge about one of the most iconic and popular shoes, how to choose them, care for them and wear them properly. If you can handle them well, I am sure that you would have the perfect look that everyone is going to admire in the summer.

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