History of the Boat Shoe, and How to Wear

Written by Marc | 21/09/2016


Get The Look

Boat shoes are an essential smart shoe that every man should have. The great thing about them is that they look much smarter than trainers, but aren’t as heavy or formal as brogues or boots. You can wear them all year round in countless situations, making them a very versatile shoe.

At Mainline Menswear, we’re big fans of the boat shoe. Therefore, we think everyone could do with a quick guide on how to wear them. In order to allow you to get the most out of your footwear, and look and feel stylish.

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What are boat shoes

Boat shoes originated in 1935, invented by Paul Sperry. The inspiration was taken from watching a dog maintain its grip on an icy surface. This led to Sperry trying out cuts in rubber soles for more grip and eventually led to the boat shoe we see today.

The typical boat shoe is made up of a rubber sole with the upper made from either leather or canvas. Leather uppers tend to look smarter but are only available in a few colours. If you choose a canvas upper, the range of colours and designs is much more extensive, so you can find something unique to your style.

What to wear boat shoes with

Boat shoes look best when you can really see the shoe. Buy yourself a pair of no-show socks, so your ankles are bare and you can’t see any fabric poking out from the shoe. This is a much better option than skipping socks altogether, as when your feet sweat in the shoes this will cause the material to deteriorate and the shoes won’t last as long as they’re supposed to.

Further complement the bare ankles by wearing shorter-length trousers. Or if you don’t want to specifically buy some new trousers to wear with your boat shoes, simply roll up the cuffs on a pair you already have. The versatility of boat shoes means they can be worn with jeans, chinos or a smarter pair of trousers, so they’re something you can always rely on. If you’re wondering what are the best shoes to wear with shorts – here’s your answer!

Finally, complete your outfit with a smart, preppy shirt or polo top. Either a light, linen shirt in the summer or a slightly warmer shirt in the colder months will pair well with your footwear, and give you an understated yet stylish look. If you’re not a shirt fan, a polo is the best alternative. They have a similar style to a shirt, and the addition of a collar really makes the whole ensemble look much better than it would with just a t-shirt.

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When to wear boat shoes

As we’ve said earlier, there isn’t really a time that you can’t wear boat shoes. Create a casual look with shorts and a polo, go slightly smarter with chinos and a shirt, or you can pair them with a suit to wear to work.

If you have leather boat shoes, in a darker colour like brown or black, these are the ones to wear to work, or for smarter events. Canvas boat shoes in brighter colours can be used as accessories for the weekend, to the races or for summer garden parties.

We really think you can wear your boat shoes for any occasion though, and with almost anything. We sell a selection of boat shoes, in either leather or canvas. With different colours available too. Visit our website here to browse our extensive collection of stock.

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