Woohoo! It’s summer again! Does this season mean anything to you? To many, it is all about enjoying the sunshine in abundance and feeling the occasional warm breezes that blow past. The beach, the lake and the sea are among the most popular destinations to be in touch with the very gift of nature during this time of the year. To accommodate the hot weather and truly tune into the energetic summer vibe, it’s also the time to dig out all your summer favorites or check out for new ones!
In this first post of the “summer series”, I shall introduce the boat shoes to you. These are some very popular shoes worn by both men and women during the summer, and if you don’t already own a pair, I’d urge you to have a look and see if you could get one. So, if you would like to know where to get some of the best boat shoes for women along with just about everything else related to them, then this is the article for you!
First, here’s a bit of their history for me to acknowledge their origin, which may in turn help deepen your appreciation for them.
History of Boat Shoes
Ever wondered how the boat shoe got its name? Admittedly, the shoe does resemble a boat in some way (with its decorative lace looped around near the topline, doesn’t it somehow reminds you of a small wooden boat and its attaching rope anchor?). However, that’s not how its name was derived. Well, at least not officially.
Seeing some resemblance?
But while we can never be sure if its creator had intentionally designed it to look like one, there’s certainly little argument on the fact that he had improved the working conditions of many a sailors who worked on the slippery decks. And yep, the creator was an avid sailor himself – not surprisingly. The boat shoes were therefore named after their practicality instead of their appearance. And for this same reason, the boat shoes are also known as the deck shoes. The next question here is then: what had inspired this sailor-turned-businessman to design the boat shoes in the first place?
It was on one winter day in the early 1930s, when Paul A. Sperry noticed how his dog, Prince, managed to trek through the slippery ice surface just fine. Amazed, Sperry reckoned that it had something to do with Prince’s paws. On closer inspection, he found that there were tiny grooves running across the paws in herringbone-like patterns. Realizing that this may be the solution to avoiding slips, he went on to carve the soles of his shoes by mimicking the pattern, using the siping process.
This had indeed improved the traction of his shoes, however, there’s another outstanding problem at the time: his soles, which were in black, had left quite a few unpleasant-looking marks on his deck. That’s not very nice, but fortunately, it didn’t take him long to figure out the correct fix either: adopt white soles instead.
White sole cut in herringbone pattern
Finally in 1935, Sperry introduced his first-ever authentic boat shoes, the Sperry Top-Sider, to the market. Their uppers were made from specially treated brown leather that enabled the shoes to be water-resistant, and also featured white rubber soles with herringbone pattern cuts underneath. This very design has provided grounds for the prevention of skids and markings on the decks, and thus became rather popular among sailors.
For the next few years, it pretty much remained as a type of work shoes worn only for boating. But in the following years to come, some deals had been going on until the United States Rubber Company eventually acquired Sperry’s business. From then on, the boat shoes have been marketed across different parts of the world as a form of casual summer footwear, as it is still known to be today.
So really, the boat shoes could be your ideal pair of shoes during the summer, whether you’re out at the sea or just going for a casual stroll along the beach or even in your neighborhoods. They are meant to be good substitutes for sneakers and loafers.
Now, you might also be interested in learning more about the distinctive features of the boat shoes. What makes them unique apart from the points already mentioned above? You’re about to find out.
Characteristics of the Boat Shoes
In the most traditional sense, boat shoes were made out of treated leather and only came in neutral colors (e.g. browns). Also, for historical reasons as mentioned above, they’re typically combined with white soles. But today, to meet fashion’s demands, they’re also available in a wide range of colors. Some even like to play around with the color of the shoelaces for more unusual looks. In terms of materials, both canvas and suede have become popular alternatives to leather.
Nevertheless, to qualify as a pair of genuine boat shoes, the following characteristics should always be met:
- Moc toe construction (i.e. moccasins that are supported by firm, rubbery soles)
- Hydrophobic leather/ canvas uppers (i.e. is water resistant up to some extent)
- Topstitched (i.e. the sewn stitches should be clearly seen on the surface)
- Criss-cross lacing that also gets looped around the sides
- One to three eyelet on each shoe
- Non-marking rubber soles
- Herringbone siping in the soles
- Easy to slip on and off once broken-in
On top of these rule-bound characteristics, on a more subjective level, the boat shoes should radiate nautical and/ or preppy appeal depending on the style you’re trying to pull off.
So, are you more into the classic styles or the flashier ones? Check out where you can get any of them next!
Where to Buy Boat Shoes for Women
Besides looking at the colors and styles on the very surface, this is also where you decide if you want a pair that is made of leather or canvas. This all depends on your own preference, and choosing either one over the other won’t just so limit your styling options. Some questions you might want to ask yourself here is: Are you a true loyal to the original or do you prefer some forms of variation? Which material do you usually wear more comfortably in? Are you comfortable with maintaining leathery products in general? What’s your budget? All these can hopefully be some helpful pointers for you. With this cleared, here are some of my picks recommended to you:
Are you a fan of vintage items? If so, you definitely wouldn’t want to miss this out! The Women’s Authentic Original 2-Eye Boat Shoe is simply the closest replica of the original you could possibly get. Get a pair from this series for a true remembrance of the seas and tides back in the 30’s! Also, wear them anywhere near the sea and you’re sure to stay right at the top of your game!
Feel like being more playful with the colors? Call it fashion-forward or rebellious, it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Here’s the thing: you’re really looking for a pair that makes its very own unique statement. So you want to grab others’ instant attention on your shoes? Or perhaps you want to bring out a lively summer vibe as soon as you walk out of your house? No problem – got you covered!
And for some inspirations on how you could integrate your summer outfit with a pair of boat shoes, here’s how.
How to Wear Boat Shoes
First things first, while the boat shoes offer quite a bit of flexibility in terms of styling, there’s one thing you should try to avoid wearing together with them: socks! But that’s not to say that it is wrong or anything, because it’s all down to personal preferences afterall. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the general norm doesn’t pair them with socks –just as how they’re worn originally (back then when sailors wore them on-board, they didn’t wear any socks). So yes, perhaps you should consider wearing them barefooted. Alternatively, if you absolutely feel the need for socks, you can go for a pair of no-show socks, so that no one will even notice they’re there.
Once you start wearing the boat shoes, you can work in various styles. Here are some ideas for you on how to dress and match:
Go totally casual: Shorts, Cuffed-up jeans, Tee shirts, Polo shirts, Short-sleeve shirts
Go for smart casual: Chinos, Jeans, Oxford cloth button-down shirts, Blazers, Trench coats
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest
Contrary to common belief, boat shoes and blazers can actually go really well together. And so long as you don’t ever wear your boat shoes with a tuxedo, you’ll be doing just fine. Be mindful that tuxedos are just way too formal to be paired with the boat shoes.
How to Get the Best Size and Break Them In:
As with any other kinds of shoes you buy, it is very essential that the right size is chosen. The boat shoes are of course no exception. As a general guideline, it is advisable to allow about half an inch of extra space in the shoes after you’ve fitted in.
Another commonly encountered problem is how to break them in properly and avoid blisters, especially since you’re probably not wearing any socks. While there is no guarantee that you can be totally blisters-free, here’s a method that you may want to try (at your own risk) with your boat shoes when the leather is really stiff: fit properly into the shoes with the shoelaces tightened, get the shoes wet and then just leave them to dry naturally that way (i.e. at room temperature, keep out of direct sunlight, no usage of radiators etc.). As you’re wearing them all along the process, the leather will conform to the shape of your feet as it dries.
If you don’t like the idea of getting your shoes wet, then you’ll have to wear them for short walks several times and let the leather get softened over time. Once that happens, however, you’ll realize that the shoes become very comfortable to wear.
Some Final Thoughts
I hope this guide has been helpful in providing you with what you need to know about the boat shoes. Personally, I think they look really nice in putting together a summer outfit. This is regardless of where you’re going to – at the beach, at the sea, or even just somewhere around the neighborhoods. And what are your thoughts? Do you think you’ll have the chance to wear some boat shoes this summer?