Intro – Why boat shoes are a staple for warm weather and water activities
As the weather heats up and we head into the summer season, our footwear choices shift as well. Gone are the boots and closed-toe shoes of winter, swapped out for open, breathable shoes made for the warm sunny days ahead. And for many style-conscious folks, that means breaking out the boat shoes.
Boat shoes have become a seasonal staple and wardrobe essential for good reason. With their low-profile design,non-slip soles and water-friendly materials, they are ideal for days spent by the water or strolling along the coast. They manage to strike that perfect balance between comfort, functionality and timeless preppy style.
But what exactly are boat shoes? And where’s the best place to buy a pair this season? I’ll walk through everything you need to know about finding the perfect boat shoes for you.
The Origins of the Boat Shoe
Boat shoes were originally designed in the 1930s for sailors and boaters (as the name implies). Sperry Top-Sider is credited with creating the first boat shoe, featuring a non-slip siped sole designed for optimal traction on slippery boat decks. The shoes were an instant hit among sailors and yachtsmen.
It didn’t take long for the stylish, hand-sewn leather shoes to catch on among non-boating circles. By the 1950s, boat shoes had become a fashion staple among preppy East Coast elites and appeared on Ivy League campuses across the country. Their preppy pedigree was cemented.
Key Features of Boat Shoes
So what sets boat shoes apart from other warm weather footwear options? There are a few key features to look for:
- Non-slip soles – Boat shoes typically have siped rubber soles to prevent slipping on wet surfaces
- Waterproof or water-resistant materials – Leather or suede uppers that won’t get ruined by water spray
- Lightweight and breathable – Designed for comfort and wear without socks
- Moccasin-style stitching – Distinctive casual styling
- Padded insoles – For shock absorption while walking on hard surfaces
- Durable materials – Leather or suede uppers stand up to frequent wear
These details make boat shoes the perfect footwear choice whether you’re on the dock or strolling city streets.
Popular Boat Shoe Brands
When it comes to top boat shoe brands, there are a few legacy companies that stand out:
- Sperry – The original maker of the boat shoe for over 80 years
- Sebago – Crafting boat shoes in Maine since 1946
- Timberland – A trusted name in casual footwear
- Cole Haan – A contemporary take on traditional boat shoes
- Dockers – Known for affordable, stylish boat shoes
Of course, many other brands like Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren and Rockport also offer boat shoe options.
Boat Shoe Styles
Boat shoes come in a range of styles to suit different tastes and settings:
- Low tops – The classic style, with canvas or leather panels above the sole
- Mid tops – Extend slightly up the ankle for added support
- High tops – Cover the ankle bone completely providing maximum stability
- Slip-ons – Easy on/off with elastic gores rather than laces
- Two-eyelet – Simple two-eyelet lace-up design
- Three-eyelet – Extra eyelet allows for more customized fit
And boat shoes come in a rainbow of colors – from classic brown and tan to bright blues, reds and oranges. There are styles suited for casual weekend wear or dressed up with chinos and a button-down.
Where to Buy Boat Shoes
Shopping online is a convenient way to access the largest selection of top boat shoe brands. Some popular online retailers include:
- Zappos – Wide selection with free shipping/returns
- Nordstrom – High-end designer and contemporary brands
- DSW – Affordable deals on boat shoes
- 6pm – Discount prices from past seasons
- Amazon – Fast shipping and good prices
For trying shoes on in person, visit local department stores like Macy’s or Dillard’s which carry many boat shoe options in-store.
Finding the Right Fit
The right fit is crucial when selecting boat shoes. Here are some tips for getting the right size:
- Size up by a 1/2 size – Boat shoes run slightly narrow
- Try on with socks – For an accurate fit
- Ensure heel doesn’t slip – Heel should be locked in place
- Toes have wiggle room – Shouldn’t feel pinched across toes
- Don’t be too loose – Feet shouldn’t slide around
Also consider width sizing for wider feet. Order multiple sizes to compare at home if needed.
Caring for Your Boat Shoes
A little care will keep your boat shoes looking their best. Be sure to:
- Spray with waterproofer – Maintain water resistance
- Use shoe trees – Retain shape when not wearing
- Clean stains promptly – With warm water and mild soap
- Brush suede regularly – Restore nap with brush
- Store in breathable bag – Allow to dry fully between wears
With proper care, quality leather and suede boat shoes can last for many seasons.
When to Replace Boat Shoes
Even with the best care, boat shoes wear out over time. Signs it’s time to retire your favorites include:
- Thin, worn out soles – Loss of traction
- Holes in leather or canvas – Can’t be repaired
- Permanent stains – Can’t be cleaned out
- Loose stitching – Allowing water seepage
- Odor that won’t go away – Despite cleaning
For maximum performance and style, retire boat shoes at the first sign of excess wear.
Boat Shoes vs. Other Summer Shoe Styles
How do boat shoes compare with other warm weather footwear options? Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Flip flops – More casual and beach-friendly than boat shoes
- Sandals – Allow more air flow than closed-toe boat shoes
- Espadrilles – More lightweight and flexible sole
- Drivers – Similar moccasin style but with perforated pattern
- Camp mocs – Very similar to boat shoes but more casual
Boat shoes strike a balance of casual style while still looking put together enough for cocktails on the pier or daytime events.
Ready to Make a Splash in Boat Shoes?
As you can see, boat shoes are far more than just leisure footwear for sailors. They have evolved into a beloved warm-weather staple perfect for coastal living or just channeling laidback preppy vibes. With a rich history and timeless style, quality boat shoes are a wardrobe investment that will never go out of fashion.
Follow this guide to find the ideal pair showcasing your personality. Then wear them in good health for many seasons ahead (with proper care of course!). Just be prepared for the compliments on your cool kicks all summer long.
Different types of boat shoes – leather, suede, canvas, etc.
One of the great things about boat shoes is the variety of materials they come in. From classic leather to lightweight mesh, there are boat shoe options suitable for any climate or setting.
Some of the most popular boat shoe materials include:
- Leather – The most traditional boat shoe material. Leather varieties like oiled leather or premium leather are naturally water-resistant. Leather shoes offer a classic preppy look that pairs well with chinos or shorts.
- Suede – A soft napped leather with a brushed finish. Suede is less prone to water-staining than smooth leather. It provides a casual, textured look. Suede shoes require more careful cleaning.
- Canvas – Boat shoes with canvas uppers are extremely lightweight and breathable, great for hot weather. Styles like cotton duck are durable while also being comfortable. The fabric loosens up over time.
- Mesh – Very lightweight and airy boat shoes for maximum ventilation. Mesh styles are ideal for boating or beach days when feet are likely to get wet. The open weave dries out quickly after being in water.
- Synthetic – Manmade textiles that are easy to clean and fast-drying. Synthetic leather and nubuck are vegan options. These materials tend to be more affordable as well.
The material you choose depends on factors like usage, climate and personal style. Leather offers classic prep while mesh and canvas are great for hot humid regions. Consider where and how often you plan to wear the shoes.
Leather Boat Shoes
Hand-sewn leather boat shoes have been around nearly a century for good reason. The supple leather forms to the foot over time for customized comfort. Full grain leather boat shoes look better as they age.
With proper conditioning, leather shoes gain a well-worn patina and vintage appeal. Their rich leather scent also adds to the appeal.
For a more modern look, smooth leather boat shoes pair well with causal business attire like chinos and a sport coat. For preppy appeal, opt for a classic two-eyelet style.
Suede Boat Shoes
Suede boat shoes offer and textured look and feel very different from smooth leather. The soft nap and casual vibe make suede models ideal for relaxed daytime activities.
Since moisture can discolor suede, these boat shoes are best in drier conditions. Use suede protector spray to guard against stains. Limit wear in wet, muddy conditions.
For maximum versatility, look for boat shoes with leather panels in high-contact areas and suede detailing. The mixed media pairs best with jeans or shorts.
Canvas Boat Shoes
Don’t overlook canvas as a boat shoe material. Canvas styles have a laidback, casual vibe perfect for the weekends. Models made from cotton duck fabric offer durability close to leather.
The lightweight canvas construction provides superior breathability on hot sunny days. Canvas loosens up over time for a flexible, broken-in feel.
Opt for cotton canvas boat shoes in a classic style paired with shorts or swim trunks for the boat or beach. The material dries quickly after getting wet.
Mesh Boat Shoes
For the ultimate in lightweight ventilation, mesh boat shoes can’t be beat. The woven mesh fabric is featherlight and promotes air circulation around your feet.
Mesh boat shoes work especially well for boating, fishing, and other water activities. Even after being submerged, the open mesh construction dries out quickly once back in the sun.
Just note that the thin material doesn’t offer much protection. Reserve mesh boat shoes just for laidback activities rather than extensive walking or hiking.
Synthetic Boat Shoes
Synthetic boat shoes offer animal-friendly options for vegans or vegetarians. Materials like synthetic leather are water-resistant and fast-drying.
Synthetic boat shoes tend to be more affordable as well. This makes them ideal choices for kids who will quickly grow out of them.
The manmade materials are also easy to wipe clean after wear. However, they lack the luxurious feel and patina forming of genuine leather.
With so many types of boat shoe materials now available, you’re sure to find the perfect pair to complement your seasonal style – whether made of leather, suede, canvas or mesh. Just be sure to select materials suited for the climate and your intended usage.
Then you’ll be ready to set sail in total comfort and maritime style.
Key features that make boat shoes practical – non-slip soles, water resistance
Beyond just being stylish, boat shoes are designed with specific features that make them exceptionally practical footwear for marine activities.
These key design elements include:
- Non-slip soles – Siped, lugged rubber or injected EVA soles provide traction on wet surfaces
- Water resistance – Leather or synthetic uppers repel water and dry quickly
- Lightweight – Minimizes fatigue for extended wear on the water
- Breathability – Allows ventilation and airflow without socks
- Quick-drying – Materials and construction drain water rapidly
- Comfortable fit – Contoured footbeds prevent sliding and blisters
Let’s look closer at how these important features make boat shoes so functional as well as fashionable.
Slipping and falling on a wet boat deck can be dangerous. That’s why non-slip soles are a critical boat shoe feature.
The siping on boat shoe soles (the fine slit cuts) allows for water drainage and improved grip. Lugged soles provide additional traction. The sole tread pattern is designed to channel water away as well.
Quality boat shoes use thick, durable rubber or injected EVA soles that maintain their traction over time. Compression molded soles ensure even contact and stability on uneven surfaces.
Since boat shoes will inevitably get wet, having water-resistant leather or synthetic uppers is a must.
Premium leathers are naturally water-repellent. Coated leathers and suedes also discourage water absorption and staining. Synthetic blends are inherently quick-drying.
Many boat shoes also have seam sealing and waterproof linings to prevent leakage. This keeps feet drier on rainy days or wet deck conditions.
Heavy, clunky shoes can really fatigue your feet on long active days on the water. That’s why the best boat shoes are lightweight.
Leathers are shaved to reduce weight. Mesh panels and canvas fabrics keep shoes airy and comfortable. Low-profile soles avoid added bulk.
The lightweight construction reduces muscle strain compared to regular street shoes or work boots when boating or fishing. You stay more sure-footed as well.
To stay comfortable sockless, boat shoes utilize breathable design elements. Mesh panels allow air circulation inside the shoes. Moisture-wicking linings prevent sweaty feet.
Stretchy laces and lightweight construction prevent pinching or rubbing discomfort. Anti-odor treatments minimize unpleasant foot smell.
Well-ventilated boat shoes keep feet cool and dry on hot summer days while avoiding the abrasion of wet socks.
Even water-resistant shoes can get soaked occasionally. That’s why boat shoes are made of materials that drain and dry out rapidly.
Mesh panels allow quick water drainage. Synthetic blends and suedes dry faster than smooth leathers. Removable insoles allow the interior to dry fully.
Quick drying minimizes moisture contact with feet. Wet shoes also return to maximum traction faster after being submerged.
With their specialized no-slip soles, water resistance, lightweight design and breathability, it’s easy to see why boat shoes have endured as functional boating footwear. Their practical features keep you safe and comfortable out on the water.
So don’t just think of boat shoes as a fashion statement. Appreciate how their design innovations keep you sure-footed from ship to shore.
Most popular brands for quality boat shoes
With boat shoes having such a long and celebrated history, there are a number of brands that have cultivated reputations for high-quality designs over the decades.
Some of the top boat shoe brands include:
- Sperry – The original boat shoe creator. Renowned for innovation and durability.
- Sebago – Crafting handsewn boat shoes out of Maine since 1946.
- Timberland – Trusted for rugged, well-constructed boat shoes.
- Allen Edmonds – Premium quality leather boat shoes made in America.
- Dockers – Budget-friendly boat shoes with timeless styling.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes these brands stand out in the world of boat shoes.
As the original creator of the boat shoe, Sperry is still the brand most synonymous with the category. Their innovative, non-slip siped soles revolutionized wet deck traction in the 1930s.
Sperry focuses extensively on technological advances like moisture-wicking linings and cushioned footbeds. Their designs fuse comfort, durability and style.
The Sperry Authentic Original boat shoe remains one of the most iconic American shoe designs with its hand-sewn construction and moccasin toe stitching.
Hailing from Maine, Sebago has been handcrafting premium boat shoes since 1946 with a focus on craftsmanship.
Their triple-stitched moccasin construction and leather sourced from small Maine tanneries results in well-made shoes that mold to your feet. The rustic, New England vibe permeates the brand.
Sebago boat shoes offer classic styling with contemporary comfort features like Ortholite foam insoles and anti-fatigue heel pads.
Known for sturdy boots, Timberland brings its same dedication to rugged quality to its boat shoe collections.
Expect premium full-grain leathers, durable rubber lug soles and seam-sealed waterproof construction. Rustproof eyelets and reinforced stitching enhance longevity.
Timberland’s outdoor heritage focus results in boat shoes ready for adventures both on land and sea.
For luxurious leather boat shoes crafted in America, Allen Edmonds is a top choice. Their shoes are hand-stitched and custom-fitted in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
Meticulous attention goes into selecting premium leathers with natural water resistance. The contoured footbeds provide arch support for comfort during extended wear.
While investment-worthy, Allen Edmonds boat shoes deliver heirloom-quality craftsmanship and materials.
Known for affordable basics, Dockers offers well-made boat shoes without designer price tags.
Dockers focuses on timeless styling in leather, suede and canvas rather than trendy embellishments. This results in versatile shoes integrating into any summer wardrobe.
While budget-friendly, Dockers’ boat shoes still offer features like cushioned insoles, traction outsoles and moisture wicking. They’re a great choice for relaxed seasonal style on a budget.
When selecting your next pair of boat shoes, consider sticking with brands dedicated to quality construction and materials. Your feet will thank you in the long run.
Styles – low top, mid top, high top shoes and color options
Beyond just the standard low-cut boat shoe, today you can find boat shoes in a range of styles and colors to complement your personal tastes.
Popular boat shoe styles include:
- Low tops – The iconic style with canvas/leather panels above the sole
- Mid tops – Extend slightly up the ankle for added support
- High tops – Cover the ankle fully providing maximum stability
- Slip on – Elastic gores allow easy on/off without laces
- Two eyelets – Clean, minimalist row of two eyelets
- Three eyelets – Extra eyelet allows more adjustable fit
And when it comes to color, boat shoes go far beyond just neutral browns these days. You can find pops of color like:
- Bright navy blues
- Reef and seafoam greens
- Coral and salmon pinks
- Fiery reds
- Citrus yellows and oranges
- Crisp whites
Let’s explore some of the top boat shoe style options to decide which fits your personal style best.
Low Top Boat Shoes
Low top boat shoes ending right above the ankle are the original style. They’re ideal for slipping on easily and pairing with shorts or swim trunks.
Low tops work well for casual relaxed activities where you want ventilation and freedom of movement. The low cut design is timelessly preppy.
Mid Top Boat Shoes
Mid tops provide a bit more coverage and stability by extending to just below the ankle bone. This additional ankle support reduces chafing.
Mid top styles work well for walking longer distances where you want support without the confine of a high-top design. The extra coverage also keeps out small pebbles or sand.
High Top Boat Shoes
For maximum ankle stability, high top boat shoes cover and cushion the ankle joint completely. This prevents rolling and protects the ankle bone from rubbing.
High tops offer the most secure fit for hiking or climbing around docks and decks. Some high tops integrate useful features like pull tabs at the heel for easy on/off.
Slip On Boat Shoes
For ultimate convenience, slip-on boat shoes eliminate the need for laces. Elastic gores allow these clog-style shoes to flex on and off easily.
Slip ons are great for quick trips outdoors when you want the quickest footwear option. They also work well for boaters who are frequently removing and putting on their shoes.
Two vs. Three Eyelets
Traditional two-eyelet boat shoes have a minimalist row of just two eyelets for lacing. This clean, simple look keeps the focus on the moccasin-stitching.
Three-eyelet shoes add an extra eyelet for increased lace tension control. This allows you to customize the snugness and shape across the foot.
When selecting your perfect pair of boat shoes, consider all the variations in style, color and detailing now available. There are options ideal for any taste and summer activity.
Where to buy the top brands online – top shoe ecommerce sites
One of the easiest ways to access all the top boat shoe brands is by shopping online. Some popular e-commerce sites for getting boat shoes delivered right to your door include:
- Zappos – Massive selection with free shipping and returns
- Nordstrom – Upscale designer and contemporary brands
- DSW – Discount prices on name brands with fast delivery
- 6pm – Deep discounts on past season styles
- Amazon – Convenient for Prime fast shipping
Let’s look at some of the benefits of buying your next pair of boat shoes online.
Huge Selection of Brands
Shopping at shoe specialists like Zappos provides access to hundreds of boat shoe choices across all the top brands in one spot. Narrow or wide sizes also available.
Once you know your size, you can filter by features like waterproofing, sole type, width, price and more. This simplifies finding your ideal pair.
Avoid driving all over town trying to find your perfect boat shoes. Online shopping allows fast and convenient delivery direct to your doorstep.
Many sites offer free shipping and returns to remove the hassle. Exchanges are easier than driving back to the mall if sizing is off.
Comparison Shop Different Sites
You can quickly compare boat shoe styles and pricing across retailers without leaving home. Searching on sites like Google Shopping lets you find the best deal.
Shopping online makes it simple to price compare between models. See which trusted retailers have sales or promo codes to maximize value.
Read Reviews From Owners
Research how boat shoes fit, feel and wear over time by reading reviews from verified buyers. This provides insights you can’t get in a store.
Customer reviews can reveal sizing quirks, style cautions, comfort levels and more unique details that help make the best selection.
Avoid crowds and lines
Skip the headache of busy malls or outlet bargains hunting. Shop top brands from the comfort of home without dealing with crowds and parking.
Online shopping allows buying boat shoes on your own time. No pressure from sales reps either.
For the ultimate selection without the legwork, order your next boat shoes from a trusted online retailer. Just be sure to check return policies in case any sizing adjustments are needed.
What to look for when buying – fit, traction, comfort
With so many boat shoe options available, it helps to know what features to evaluate when selecting the ideal pair.
Some key purchasing considerations include:
- Fit – Snug heel and secure lacing without pinching toes
- Traction – Effective siping and lug depth for wet/dry grip
- Comfort – Cushioned footbed, shock absorption, support
- Construction – Durable stitching, quality materials, craftsmanship
- Water-resistance – Leather or synthetic uppers that repel water
- Style – Design suits your intended activities and personal tastes
Focusing on these key criteria helps ensure you select durable, high-performing boat shoes.
Evaluating the Fit
Since boat shoes are worn without socks, fit is crucial. The heel should fit snugly without slipping. Toes need wiggle room.
Leather and suede styles mold to your feet over time so allow for a brief break-in period. Order true to size or size up half a size.
Lace-up designs allow you to adjust tension across the foot. Buy what’s most comfortable rather than sizing down.
Examine the sole tread pattern and siping depth, running a finger across to feel the texture.
The outsole should be thick and sturdy. Rubber compounds are grippier than cheaper EVA foams.
Press down on the sole to ensure it’s firm and inflexible for stability on wet surfaces.
Evaluating Comfort Features
Try on shoes fully laced to assess overall comfort and support. Walk around to break them in.
Quality footbeds provide arch support and cushioning. Removable footbeds allow air circulation.
Mesh lining and perforated footbeds enhance ventilation to keep feet cool and dry.
Examine stitching to ensure it’s tight, straight, and reinforced with multiple stitches per inch.
Quality leathers feel supple yet sturdy. Synthetics shouldn’t feel cheap or plastic-like.
Outsoles should be securely attached to uppers. Pull on seams to test durability.
Taking the time to inspect key factors like traction, fit and construction will ensure you select boat shoes ready for adventure.
With warmer weather on the horizon, it’s time to break out the boat shoes! These casual, slip-on style shoes have been a spring and summer staple for men’s fashion for decades. Boat shoes offer a stylish yet functional way to complete all kinds of warm weather outfits, from weekend casual to smart casual. Read on for tips on rocking boat shoes this season, including where to find the top styles both in-store and online.
What to Look for in Boat Shoes
When shopping for boat shoes, there are a few key features to look out for. First, you’ll want genuine leather uppers, preferably smooth leather rather than suede, for better water resistance. The soles should have deep lugs or siping to provide traction on wet boat decks. Go for lace-up styles for a secure fit, or opt for slip-ons with elastic goring at the sides if you want the ultimate in slip-on convenience.
Traditional boat shoes come in brown, tan, or navy blue shades. But the range of available colors and patterns has expanded. Feel free to go for nautical stripes, two-tone combinations, or a pop of color like red or mustard yellow. Just be sure to choose versatile colors that will coordinate well with the rest of your wardrobe.
Where to Shop for Boat Shoes
Department stores like Macy’s and DSW are reliable sources for quality boat shoes in classic and updated styles. Or check out outdoor specialty retailers like L.L. Bean and Zappos for their extensive boat shoe collections. Going directly to brands known for boat shoes can also yield great finds; Sperry, Sebago, Timberland, and Dockers all offer dependable options.
For the best deals, keep an eye out for boat shoe sales at outlets like Nordstrom Rack or discount retailers like Marshall’s. Amazon is another handy source for boat shoes spanning all price points. Their customer reviews can help you hone in on styles with the best durability and comfort.
If you have wider or narrower feet, it’s worth seeking out brands that offer multiple width options. Or have your feet professionally measured and buy your exact size rather than going by general size charts.
How to Wear Boat Shoes
One of the best things about boat shoes is their versatility. While invented for boating, today they transition seamlessly from casual days to dressier looks.
Boat shoes pair perfectly with shorts for a classic spring and summer look. Go for flat front chino shorts or cuffed denim shorts and combine with a polo shirt or linen button-down shirt. Add some shades and a baseball cap for a relaxed vibe. On chillier days, try the shorts with a lightweight sweater or hoodie on top.
For a smart casual ensemble, wear boat shoes with flat front chinos or khakis and a button-down collar shirt or polo shirt. A blazer or sweater layered on top polishes off the look. Boat shoes also look right at home with jeans; opt for dark washes without distressing for the most refined ensemble.
With Swim Trunks
Boat shoes make perfect sense with swimwear when heading to the pool or beach. Just add some comfy, lightweight swim trunks or board shorts. Throw on a tropical print shirt or casual hoodie and you’re ready for a day of surf and sun.
One way to instantly dial down the formality of a suit is by swapping dress shoes for boat shoes. Stick to navy, gray or seersucker suits combined with a simple tie or bow tie. Add a pair of sunglasses for a Riviera-ready aesthetic. Just beware wearing boat shoes in a more formal business setting.
Caring for Your Boat Shoes
With regular care, a quality pair of leather boat shoes should last for several seasons. Be sure to allow them a day to air out after wearing to prevent odors. Remove laces and use cedar shoe trees to help maintain the shape and absorb moisture.
Clean boat shoe uppers with a leather cleaner then apply leather conditioner to protect and soften the material. Use a toothbrush to scrub away salt stains. Allow sufficient drying time after getting boat shoes wet before the next wear. With regular cleaning and conditioning, boat shoes will stay looking shipshape all season long.
Beat the spring and summer heat in style with the perfect pair of boat shoes. Shop top brands known for comfort and durability. Look for versatile neutral shades as well as fun pops of color to complement your existing wardrobe. Then get ready to pair your boat shoes with everything from swim trunks to chino shorts for endless warm weather outfits.
With warmer days ahead, now is the time to pick up a pair of boat shoes for your spring and summer wardrobe. Boat shoes offer a relaxed yet put-together vibe that works for everything from casual weekends to dressier occasions. Keep reading for tips on styling boat shoes this season, along with advice for finding the best fits and most versatile colors near you.
What Makes Boat Shoes So Stylish
Boat shoes have been popular with women for decades thanks to their laidback preppy style. The smooth leather or suede uppers come in classic shades like tan, brown, navy, and grey that pair well with much of your wardrobe. The grippy rubber soles provide traction on slippery decks while also being comfortable enough for all-day wear.
Look for genuine leather or suede uppers and a herringbone or lugged rubber sole. Lace-up styles allow a secure fit, while slip-ons with elastic goring deliver fuss-free convenience. Consider width options if you have narrow or wide feet. Brands like Sperry, Sebago, and Timberland offer quality materials and construction.
Where to Find the Top Boat Shoes
Department stores often carry selections of boat shoes for women come springtime. DSW, Macy’s, and Nordstrom offer both classic and updated boat shoe styles from top brands. For the biggest selections, check out outdoor recreation retailers like L.L.Bean and Zappos.
Going directly to brands known for boat shoes like Sperry and Timberland can also yield great options. Discount retailers like TJ Maxx provide additional sources for name brand boat shoes at reduced prices. Amazon delivers an extensive range with the advantage of reviews to help determine sizing and comfort.
How to Style Boat Shoes
From dresses to jeans, boat shoes complement a variety of warm weather looks. Here are some foolproof ways to wear them.
Boat shoes add a casual flair when paired with breezy sundresses. Opt for knit or jersey dresses in solid colors or prints that pick up colors from the shoes. Belted shirtdresses also look chic with boat shoes for a refined yet relaxed vibe. Linen sundresses in seersucker or gingham check evoke a nautical New England aesthetic.
Boat shoes maintain a casual feel when matched with skirts for the warmer months. Pull on a denim, corduroy, or twill skirt in tan, navy, black, or white to complement classic boat shoe hues. For dressier occasions, try them with a flared midi skirt and tucked-in blouse.
Few warm weather combos beat boat shoes with shorts for weekends and getaways. They look equally chic with both tailored bermuda shorts or cuffed denim shorts. Complete the look with a breezy button-down or tank top. Add some sunnies, a tote bag, and a hat for vacation-ready style.
Boat shoes allow you to dress down jeans and chinos for casual Fridays and weekends. Opt for slim or straight leg cuts in lighter washes that show off the shoes. Roll the hems for a relaxed vibe. Pair with a simple tee, tank, or blouse for an effortlessly cool look.
Swap sandals for boat shoes when wearing breezy strapless jumpsuits or rompers. The shoes bring a bit of prep to the one-piece outfits. Look for solid colors or minimal patterns that allow the shoes to pop. Add wedges or platforms for a little extra height.
Finishing Touches for Boat Shoe Outfits
Accessories like hats, jewelry, and handbags can pull your whole boat shoe outfit together. Wide-brim straw hats or baseball caps continue the casual aesthetic. Statement necklaces, dangling earrings, and stacked bangles add eye-catching flair.
Tote bags in canvas, leather, or rattan complement boat shoes’ laidback vibe. When cooler weather hits, light pullover sweaters, denim jackets, and rain jackets transition the shoes into fall. Simply add tights or leggings to keep wearing boat shoes into the cooler months.
Caring for Your Boat Shoes
With regular cleaning and conditioning, a quality pair of boat shoes should last for many seasons of wear. Allow them to fully dry out between wears and use cedar shoe trees to maintain their shape. Wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove dirt.
For deeper cleaning, use a leather cleaner and apply a conditioner. Scrub away salt stains with an old toothbrush and baking soda paste. Ensure boat shoes fully dry after getting wet before the next wear. Follow these tips and your boat shoes will hold up well for years.
Make boat shoes your go-to footwear this season for everything from dresses to jeans. Shop brands known for comfort and durability in versatile shades like tan, navy, and grey. Then get ready to enjoy effortlessly stylish warm weather outfits all season long.
Finding the perfect pair of boat shoes for your feet starts with nailing the sizing. Boat shoes come in the full range of standard shoe sizes, but variations in styles and brands means getting the fit right matters. Follow this guide to measure your feet, understand sizing, and select the right boat shoes to perfectly cradle your feet in comfort.
How to Measure Your Feet for Boat Shoes
Using an accurate measurement of both feet will help you identify the optimal boat shoe size and style for your needs. Here’s how to measure:
- Kick off your socks and grab a tape measure
- Stand with your weight evenly distributed on both feet
- Place the tape measure against the inside of your foot, from the heel to the tip of your longest toe
- Record the measurement in inches or centimeters for both feet
- For the most accurate sizing, repeat measurements a few times
Your boat shoe size will correspond with the longer of your two foot measurements. If your measurements fall between sizes, opt for the next half or full size up for the best fit.
Understand the Elements of Proper Boat Shoe Fit
In addition to precise sizing, a few key points determine how well your boat shoes will fit:
With boat shoes, aim for a snug fit in the heel and a thumb’s width of space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
Boat shoes come in narrow, standard, and wide widths. Make sure there is no pinching at the metatarsal bones behind your toes or bulging along the sides.
Well-supported arches prevent foot fatigue. Look for contoured, cushioned insoles. You can always add custom orthotics as well.
Heels should grip snugly without slipping or chafing at the back. Padded collars provide comfort.
Choosing the Best Boat Shoes for Your Feet
With your measurements in hand, use these tips to select quality boat shoes tailored to your needs:
Consider brand sizing
Some brands like Sperry and Timberland run true-to-size while others like Sebago fit small. Check size charts and reviews.
Factor in materials
Stiffer leathers don’t flex as easily. Softer leathers and suede molds more closely to your feet over time.
Try wide and narrow sizes
Brands like Rockport, New Balance, and SAS offer wider and narrower widths for better fit.
Look for adjustable laces
Lace-up boat shoes with eyelets across the tongue allow custom tightened fit.
Examine arch support
Removable insoles allow you to add orthotics. Textured rubber outsoles also provide arch support.
Consider slip-on ease
Elastic gore panels ensure secure fit. Side tabs allow you to cinch closure. Look for cushioned heel pads.
Tips for Trying on Boat Shoes
When possible, head to a store to actually try on boat shoes while using these tips:
- Wear the socks you plan to wear with the shoes
- Try shoes on at the end of the day when feet are largest
- Walk around the store to test comfort and fit
- Try both shoes for proper bilateral fit
- Ensure toes don’t hit the front when walking
- Check that heels don’t slip when stepping
Finding your exact boat shoe size and style takes a bit of effort. But the right fit means stylish shoes you can wear comfortably from the marina to the cafe. Follow these measurement, fit, and selection tips to get boat shoes that are sized just right.
A quality pair of boat shoes can last for many seasons when properly cared for. Follow these boat shoe care tips for cleaning, storage, and repair to keep your shoes looking shipshape year after year.
Cleaning Boat Shoes
Regular cleaning keeps boat shoes looking pristine while also extending their lifespan. Here are some effective cleaning methods:
Rinse and brush
Rinsing boat shoes with clean water prevents dirt and salt from building up. Use a soft brush to gently remove debris stuck on soles or in crevices.
Spot clean stains
Dab stubborn stains on leather or suede uppers using a clean, damp cloth. For tough grease stains, use a gentle leather cleaner applied with a soft bristle brush.
Spray shoe interiors with an antimicrobial spray designed for shoes to kill odor-causing bacteria. Allow shoes to fully air dry after cleaning.
Deep clean with leather cleaner
For a more thorough cleaning, use a specially formulated leather cleaner. Test first on an inconspicuous spot to ensure colorfastness.
Remove insoles and wash gently by hand using mild soap and water. Allow insoles to fully air dry before replacing in your shoes.
Scrub away salt stains
Mix baking soda and water into a paste and gently scrub salt stains using a toothbrush. Rinse shoes thoroughly and allow to dry.
Storing Boat Shoes
Use these storage tips to help boat shoes maintain their shape and keep odors at bay:
Add cedar shoe trees
Placing cedar shoe trees inside boat shoes after wear absorbs moisture and preserves the shape of the uppers.
Keep them dry
Allow boat shoes time to fully air dry between wears. Place a cloth inside damp shoes to speed drying.
Use breathable storage
Store boat shoes in a well-ventilated area rather than an airtight container to prevent moisture buildup.
Conditioning boat shoe leather helps repel water and prevents cracking. Use polish to restore luster.
Place charcoal sachets or odor absorbers inside shoes to keep the interior smelling fresh.
Keep shoestrings loose
Leaving laces a bit loose when storing boat shoes helps maintain the shape and prevent creasing.
Repairing Boat Shoes
Catching minor boat shoe damage right away allows for quick repairs. Here are some repair tips:
Re-lace loose eyelets
Re-thread the laces through any eyelets that come loose from the upper using waxed thread.
Re-adhere separating soles
Use waterproof adhesive like Shoe Goo to re-adhere soles that are beginning to separate from uppers.
Patch minor holes
Seal small holes in leather uppers using an iron-on leather patch applied to the inside of the shoe.
Remove scuffs and scratches
Gently buff scuffs and scratches using fine grit sandpaper in small circular motions. Then condition the area.
Replace worn heels
Take shoes to a cobbler to have worn heels replaced to restore proper height and support.
With some occasional TLC, a good pair of boat shoes can serve duty for many seasons. Follow these care tips to keep your boat shoes looking shipshape no matter how much time you spend on or off deck.
With proper care, a good pair of boat shoes can last for years. But at some point it will be time to retire those well-loved shoes and replace them with a fresh pair. Here is what to look for when assessing the wear and tear on your boat shoes to determine when it’s time to swap in a new pair.
Checking for Exterior Wear
Inspect the exterior leather or suede uppers of your boat shoes for these signs of wear indicating a need for replacement:
Holes, rips, or tears
Punctures, rips, or large tears that can’t be easily patched mean the boat shoe uppers have reached the end of their lifespan.
When the leather uppers feel papery thin, the protective layers have worn off making them prone to further tearing.
Fading and discoloration
While some creasing is normal, excessive fading and uneven discoloration signal excess wear. Time for a fresh pair.
Scuffing and scratches
Scuffs and scratches that can’t be remedied with polishing indicate worn out uppers. Buffing creates holes in tired leather.
Seams coming apart no matter how much adhesive you apply mean the materials have reached their limits.
Checking the Soles
Turn your boat shoes over and look for these signs of excess wear on the sole:
Soles with flat, bald spots or completely smooth treads won’t grip well on slippery surfaces, creating a safety issue.
Cracks and splits
Deep cracks or splits through the sole rubber mean its structural integrity is compromised and can’t be repaired.
Soles beginning to peel away from uppers have reached the end even if other treads appears fine.
Compacted EVA foam
Midsole foam that is smashed down and remains compressed has lost shock absorption.
Holes worn through the outsole tread exposing midsole foam indicate fully worn soles.
Evaluating the Interior
Inside issues can also point to the need for replacement. Look for:
Insoles with worn thin foam or fabric lining don’t offer support. Time to swap them.
Lingering odors you just can’t eliminate mean insoles and lining have likely broken down.
Stiff, misshapen interiors
Heels and toes that are smashed down and misshapen from extended wear cause discomfort.
Interior lining detaching from the sides makes the interior uncomfortable and prone to further tearing.
Assessing Boat Shoe Comfort
This simple test checks boat shoe comfort to indicate a need for replacement:
- Walk across a room in your boat shoes, paying attention to feel
- Do your feet feel supported? Or do they pinch, rub, or cause fatigue quickly?
- New boat shoes shouldn’t require “breaking in.” They should feel great right away.
- Uncomfortable boat shoes have likely conformed fully to your feet and need replacing.
Retiring well-worn boat shoes when they show signs of wear guarantees your feet stay comfortable. And who doesn’t love breaking in a brand new pair ready for all your warm weather adventures?
Comparison of boat shoes versus other summer shoe styles
As the weather warms up and we head into the summer season, our footwear choices shift as well. Gone are the snow boots and insulated hiking shoes, and out come the open, breathable, and lighter summer styles. One of the most iconic summer shoes is the boat shoe – but how do boat shoes really stack up against other popular summer shoe options? Let’s take a look at some key factors to consider.
Traction is important for summer shoes, whether you’ll be walking on slippery boat decks, hiking trails, or just uneven city sidewalks. Boat shoes are designed with anti-slip rubber soles to prevent slipping on wet surfaces. The deep grooves and lugs provide decent traction without feeling like you’re clomping around in heavy boots. Other summer shoes like canvas sneakers or flip flops don’t offer nearly as much traction. So boat shoes get the edge here.
When it comes to all-day comfort in the summer heat, boat shoes really shine. Their open design allows air flow to your feet, keeping them cool and dry. The supple leather uppers and cushioned footbeds conform to your feet without any pressure points or rubbing. And there are no laces to pinch or bind. Compare this to sneakers, which can get hot and confining despite their mesh panels and lightweight materials. Sandals and flip flops offer that airy feel, but don’t provide much arch support. For versatile comfort on the deck or in the city, boat shoes can’t be beat.
Let’s be honest, style plays a big role in our summer shoe choices. And boat shoes have undeniable preppy appeal that works equally well with shorts, swim trunks, or casual pants. Their sleek low profile gives a refined finished look, unlike bulky sneakers or sport sandals. But flip flops and other open sandals do have that carefree vibe that says “summer state of mind.” So style preference will be individual here – boat shoes win for their classic versatility but aren’t quite as laidback.
Summer is prime time for outdoor activities, so durable footwear is a must. Boat shoes are designed to withstand all kinds of water exposure without damage or warping. Their stitching and construction will hold up to frequent wear. And the leather can be maintained with periodic cleaning and conditioning. Compare this to canvas sneakers that can get soaked through or start tearing with heavy use. Leather boat shoes easily outlast most other summer shoe options in terms of durability.
Price should be a consideration too when picking summer shoes. Well-made leather boat shoes are not cheap, typically starting around $80-100 and going up from there. But their quality construction makes them worth the investment for seasons of wear. More budget-friendly options are flip flops, which can be found for under $20 in most cases. Canvas sneakers fall in the middle – you can find basic pairs for $30-50, but better brands cost more. If keeping costs down is key, flip flops win out – but you sacrifice comfort, traction, and durability.
At the end of the day, choosing the right summer shoes comes down to weighing your priorities – whether it’s peak comfort, solid traction, preppy style, or spending less. For an optimal blend of comfort, durability, and classic style, boat shoes emerge as a top choice that checks all the boxes. But sneakers and sandals have their perks too for more casual summer vibes. Consider where you’ll wear them most and what features matter to narrow down your best options.
Looking for the perfect pair of boat shoes this season? Check out local retailers that specialize in boat/deck shoes and summer footwear. Many carry a wide range of trusted brands like Sperry, Sebago, Timberland, and Dockers so you can find the right style and fit. Try them on in-store and walk around to get a feel for comfort. The sales associates can offer advice as well. And don’t forget to treat your new boat shoes with protective sprays or cleaners to increase their lifespan.
Get ready to walk and boat in stylish confidence this summer with iconic boat shoes! Just be prepared for the compliments you’ll get on your classically preppy footwear whenever you head out the door.
Local stores to shop popular brands and try on in-person
Summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about updating your warm weather wardrobe. And an essential part of any summer outfit is a good pair of boat shoes. Boat shoes offer a perfect blend of comfort, style, and nautical flair. But with so many brands and styles available, how do you find the right pair for you? Your best bet is to check out local retailers carrying top boat shoe brands so you can try them on in-person before buying.
Many department stores have an extensive selection of casual and dress shoes, including boat shoe styles. Stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, and Von Maur are great places to browse brands like Sperry, Sebago, Dockers, and Timberland. Try on different fits like regular, wide, and extra wide widths to get the ideal size. Department store pros are the convenience of one-stop shopping and the wide range of styles and prices. Just beware that selection can vary by location.
Outdoor recreation stores
Check out outdoor recreation retailers like REI and L.L. Bean for rugged, durable boat shoes built for performance. Brands carried include Keen, Merrell, and Teva. These stores really know summer footwear and can recommend styles suited for activities like hiking, fishing, or water sports. Their boat shoes focus more on grip and stability than fashion looks. And L.L. Bean has an excellent return policy if you end up not liking them.
Men’s clothing stores
For guys looking for preppy, stylish boat shoes, head to men’s specialty clothing stores. Brands stocked tend to emphasize classically handsome looks over sporty function. You’ll see selections from Sperry, Sebago, Vineyard Vines, and other brands aiming for a country club vibe. Make sure to ask about sizing, as some styles run narrow. Trying them on is key. And check if shoe purchases come with extras like shoe trees, polishing cloths, or monogramming.
Shoe retailer stores
Another good option is a shoe specialty store focusing just on footwear. DSW, Famous Footwear, and Foot Locker all carry boat shoes along with their full range of sneakers, sandals, and casual shoes. An advantage is getting expertise from salespeople who really know fit and function when it comes to shoes. Try on multiple pairs and walk around the store to test comfort. Watch for sales and special promotions on boat shoe styles too.
Shopping at an outlet mall is a smart way to save on big name brands of boat shoes. Check outlet stores like Nike, Timberland, Sperry, and Calvin Klein for discounted prices on last season’s styles. Selection will vary, so look over options carefully to find the best deal on the pair you want. Trying them on is highly recommended, as sizing may differ from regular retail versions. And inspect for any defects before purchasing.
The benefit of visiting local stores to shop for boat shoes is being able to try them on for fit, feel the materials and construction quality, and test comfort. Friendly sales associates can provide guidance to find the right pair. Just be sure to consider your needs – casual style, rugged performance, narrow/wide fit, etc. With some in-person shopping at shoe retailers near you, you’re sure to find the perfect boat shoes to complement your summer style.
Once you’ve purchased the ideal pair of boat shoes, don’t forget to care for them properly so they last. Apply waterproof sprays, clean dirt and stains promptly, and store with cedar shoe trees to absorb moisture and retain shape. And replace worn laces to keep them looking sharp. With some TLC, your new boat shoes will be ready for many summers of nautical style ahead!
Conclusion – why you should add boat shoes to your seasonal wardrobe
As we’ve explored, boat shoes offer a winning combination of comfort, style, traction, and durability that makes them a smart addition to your summer footwear rotation. They’ll take you seamlessly from the deck to the streets with their versatile good looks. Trying on different brands and fits at local retailers gives you the chance to find the perfect pair suited to your needs and taste.
Investing in a quality pair of boat shoes is a savvy move this season. The right style and fit will make them a staple you reach for summer after summer. So consider your planned activities – boating, parties, traveling, city walking tours – and choose boat shoes that complement your lifestyle. Going nautical doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort or good looks.
The breathable feel, non-slip soles, cushioned footbeds, and handsome leather styling make boat shoes a standout choice. Wear them with shorts, slacks, swimsuits – they’ll complete any summer outfit with that cool, preppy vibe. And they’ll withstand all your warm weather adventures while keeping feet cool and stable.
So don’t just flip flop into another forgettable summer. Step up your style game with the iconic, perennially fashionable boat shoe. Trying on options from Sperry, Sebago, Timberland and more at local retailers lets you find the ideal fit and look. With some smart shopping, you’ll set sail this season in head-turning, comfortable boat shoes ready for wherever summer takes you.
Looking sharp never felt so easy! Make this the year you incorporate boat shoes into your warm weather wardrobe. Trust us, your feet and style will thank you!