close button

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

25 thoughts on “Spring Time = Boat Shoes”

  1. I love these shoes… I tried convincing my brother to buy a pair while we were shopping this weekend!Love your blog and I LOOVE shoes! :)xoxstacieblair

  2. Right post at right time, Justin! Thanx.. We are looking right now for some nice boat shoes for me & my husband.. we want to find something similar.. 🙂 Salvatore Ferragamo's boat shoes are the best!

  3. Hey, thanks for posting this to show people different alternatives for summer shoes. I am loving the Paul Smith patent blue and Zara boat shoes but I can't find the zara's? Can you let me know where to purchase (hopefully online?). Thanks so much! I'm loving this blog, I'm a shoe snobber for life!

  4. Thanks Calvin, unfortunately it might be hard to find the Zara one's. They are from Spring 2009 and don't think that they are around anymore, I unfortunately did not get them when i had the chance and regret it, but you might have luck searching online, like eBay or just a manual search. Good luck, hope that you find them.

  5. There is a shoe by Ralph Lauren that was a SS09 boat shoe and is supposedly called the Telford Handsewn boat shoe in wine/red/maroon but I tried customer assistance and the factory outlets, even internet searches got me nothing, I love that shoe but have no idea how to get this shoe, any ideas from you?[URL=][IMG][/IMG][/URL]

  6. damn that is exactly it, I never thought guardian angels existed until now, they even have it in several sizes!!!! I feel like I owe you my life.I have a question for you, since you actually make shoes and would know about fitment. I have a wide big toe joint (due to gout, I mean it's not monstrous but its bigger than average people) so I can't really fit in narrow shoes. I do wear a size 10 but the sperry top sider boat shoes are a tight fit for me in 10 (length wise) and the medium width (I believe D) is not good for me, what do you recommend I do for the case of the conrads? would a 10.5M be better for me or 10? Do you feel these shoes would run true to size? or small?

  7. Sounds like the same problem a good friend of mine has and what he does is take a 10 if the shoe runs wide but other than that takes a 10.5. Now he does not have gout, just a big bunion but considering that you do, you always want to be on the safe side and not constrict that toe joint, so i would say take a 10.5 if there are not wide options available or a 10W if they have it. Can't say for sure if they would run true or not, not having any experience with Ralph Lauren shoes but most boat shoes that i have experienced have ran true.

  8. I just measured yesterday with a thinner-than-average socklength: 10 6/8width: 4 4/8Do you think I'm more a RL 10 or RL 10.5? and in your experience, is the width freakishly big? I have no idea what is average anymore.

  9. by the measurements i cannot tell, i have never actually measured a person's foot like that to make a pair of shoes, i have only made mine but had my measurements taken by someone else but just from what you told me, i think that the 10.5 would be better considering a 10 on boat shoes are usually a little bit short for you. Leather will never stretch length wise, only width wise.

  10. Seems like I was really behind the boat shoe trend as all of the great spring colors were last year've tried ebaying these, the green and pink are awesome!By the way, I bought the RL conrads, very excited to expect them, I paid $150, what do you think, good price?

  11. Yea those look great!! I like the pink one's too and the blue and yellow.Great! i hope that the RL's fit you properly, i would say that it is a good price, especially for RL and considering they would have cost $300 full price! Let me know how they fit!

  12. The hunt is now on for the pink and green Paul Smith red ear hashbury boat shoes. You have any idea? I have thus found tan, red and white but none of them are the ones you want either. There is one pair of pink on eBay in UK size 7

  13. no luck on my end, i tried searching for them online but only found the tan, blue patent and blue one's. I bet that they have them at the Paul Smith Soho store in NYC, you should call and ask them

  14. While I'm not related to Imelda Marcos, I am a shoe afficionado and own some 237 pairs, in addition to 108 prs of cowboy boots. I recently purchased both the Navy & Blood Orange Ralph Lauren Telford boat shoes which are wonderfully stylish & incredibly soft & comfortable. They tend to run 1/2 size large in length but true-fit as to width. They're currently on sale at Neiman Marcus for $154.50 and a "steal" at that…They're hand made, lined in glove-soft leather and arrive with really nice shoe pouches for storage. Highly recommended !

  15. i love the look of mine but i cant get them to fit comfortably for the life of me! heel in the back is too low so it slips out easily or feels like it will at any moment. suggestions?

  16. Robbie – There could be many factors at hand here and since I cannot be there to look at the shoes and your feet I can only offer what may seem like common problems. First, you may have a narrow heel or the shoe has a wide cut heel. They could be a half size large. Really the only suggestion that I could have is to either really tighten the string laces. If you try hard you can even tighten the back part. You could also add a tongue pad below the tongue to help stabilize your feet. This will press down on the top of your instep to help secure your heel. They only other option would be heel grips, but i don't recommend them, they are usually meant for ladies shoes, but you could try and if they work, so be it. Hope that this helps.

  17. I love the Faragamo boat shoes those are perfect.Where can I can find these at a decent price instead of spending 475…I like Zara ones as well nice look

  18. Al – Honestly, it might be hard to find them at all as they are from a couple of seasons ago. But your best bet would be eBay or some site that sells older models for cheaper prices. You might also try Bluefly. Best of luck-Justin, "The Shoe Snob"

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *