Tips and Tricks

A Guide For Wearing Boat Shoes

Rapidly gaining world recognition for its intriguing design, the rubber sole, short laces, and tight stitching has made the boat shoes quite popular. Its sneaker-like fit makes it practical to wear and its outer looks make the wearer look mature and sophisticated.

One of the best parts about boat shoes is that they are versatile and can be worn to reflect many different styles. You can look casual if you pair them with shorts and a t-shirt or more formal if you stick them with an oxford shirt and chinos. It all depends on your personal style, but you can mix and match these shoes to form exactly the kind of look that you want.


Also known as the deck shoe, the boat shoe is made up of a rubber sole that works to support the foot. The simple laces cross at the top of the shoe and loop around the sides to achieve decoration that contributes to the overall design.

The shoes are made from canvas or leather depending on the style and the brand. The canvas options are best worn during the warmer weather while leather designs are often matched with a casual or smart outfit to create a more alternative sort of look.

How to Lace Them

Boat shoes already achieve a distinct look, but you can make them stand out, even more, depending on how you decide to lace them up, especially since the laces tend to wrap all the way around the shoe. Try implementing various different kinds of ties like a fishtail, barrel, or tassel.  To create a look that is more formal, try keeping the lace colors dark like putting brown boat shoes with black laces. If you are feeling a little bold or want to go for a more casual look, try wearing brown boat shoes with yellow or white laces too. The choice is yours, but there are plenty of combinations to choose from.

How to Choose

There are so many boat shoe options that searching for the perfect one can be quite difficult at times. However, we have created this simple guide to help you choose the one that you will enjoy the most. Only you truly know what kind of shoe and style fits you best. So, while we encourage you to follow our lead, please make sure to listen to your heart.


Boat shoes come in many styles and colors from navy, brown, black, and nude to more vibrant colors and even patterns. Each type of shoe will be its very own fashion statement which you can utilize in your existing wardrobe however you please.


Most importantly, it’s necessary to choose a boat shoe that fits properly. Comfort is of top priority so make sure to choose wisely. It has a rubber sole, and easy to slip on the shape and a simple design that makes boat shoes effortlessly comfortable. Make sure to remember a few key things when deciding which boat shoes to purchase.

  • Check that there is a half-inch space between the top of the shoe and the big toe when you are standing.
  • The ball of your foot should fit effortlessly into the widest area of the shoe.
  • Make sure to walk around the store once the shoes are on to check for any tightness or extra spaces.

Size Suggestions For Different Shaped Feet

A Normal- Pick a shoe size that is exactly the same as the foot length.

B Big Toe That Sticks Out to One Side- Pick a shoe that is one size larger.

C Second toe is longer than other toes- Pick one size larger.

D The whole foot shape is wide-Pick one size larger.

E The whole foot shape is small- Pick one size smaller.

F The Foot arch is high-Pick one size larger.

Personal Preference

Stick with what you know you like. This is where you must decide if you prefer canvas or leather, neutral colors versus bold and lighter versus more heavyweight shoes. If the shoe fits your criteria for your personal preference, then chances are, it could be right for you.

Break Your Boat Shoes In

A close up photo of shoes

Once you have finally made your decision and purchased a pair of boat shoes, you’ve got to take the time to break them in. If you manage to get your shoes fully broken in, this is when you can finally wear them with maximum comfort. For an easy way to break in your shoes, do it slowly and put them on for small amounts of time each day. Your heels will thank you for it.

Try wearing them around the house and work them in with a slow rocking motion. Progressively add an hour or two each day or week until they finally feel perfect. Then you can go out and wear them out on the town for longer amounts of time.

The Rules

Wearing boat shoes is completely up to you. Honestly, there really aren’t any rules when it comes to rocking some boat shoes. However, we do have a couple recommendations that could help you out.

  • Try not to wear your best boat shoes during the wintertime. They are a great choice during summer and spring, but their design is quite ideal during the winter and fall months.
  • OK, so while they aren’t necessarily sandals, you still shouldn’t wear socks with boat shoes. Socks may be comfy, but they mess up the entire vibe and look that the boat shoe strives for.
  • Avoid wearing a tuxedo or suit when you have those boat shoes on your feet. They are meant to look casual or casually classy and can really ruin a formal outfit. We know that you love wearing them as much as you can, but black-tie events are simply not the place for them.

Boat Shoes For Every Occasion

Many people wish that they could wear a pair of boat shoes every day. I mean, they are comfortable and super stylish but as we talked about before, wearing boat shoes is not ideal for every single occasion. However, there are plenty of great occasions to rock your boat shoes and here are just a few.


Running to catch a plane, moving luggage in and out of trains; traveling can really do a number on your feet. Plus, with airport security on the rise, you will need to take off your shoes which can be time-consuming and irritating. It almost seems that boat shoes were made for travel as they are easy to slip off and offer just the support that you need for the hardships your feet may face on travel days. Choose a pair of white or black boat shoes for your day of travel so that they don’t get dirty while in transit and because you can pair them with comfy clothes which are ideal for travel days.

Beach Day

People love spending the day at the beach! Between the squishy sand, warm sun rays, and cool sea, what could be better? Throw on your boat shoes when you decide to leave the sand and head to the boardwalk to roam around. They will stop your feet from burning and breathe enough to keep your feet from overheating. Light-colored boat shoes go well with summer-inspired clothing too.


No matter what sort of atmosphere you work in, boat shoes can be useful. It could be a cubicle or out in open air, but boat shoes will help you get that professional or business casual look that most employers are after. The black leather variety could look great in the office as they exude professionalism. Try pairing them with an oxford shirt and straight-leg pants.


If you want to dress to impress your date, boat shoes will have you covered. People tend to worry so much about making their hair perfect or getting the outfit right that they completely overlook the shoe aspect. By choosing a pair that matches your outfit, you can look well put together without seeming like you tried too hard.

How to Wear Boat Shoes With Jeans

In our opinion, the ideal way to sport some boat shoes is with a nice pair of jeans. Jeans themselves are endlessly versatile on their own but pairing them with a pair of shoes that are versatile as well makes them a perfect match because it can create a whole variety of new looks!

Basic Blue Jeans

Basic blue jeans and a neutral colored boat shoe are a great pair. Start by cuffing the bottom of the jeans to give a more laid back and casual style to the entire outfit. This works well with distressed denim and especially if you put it on a flannel shirt. This outfit combination helps the boat shoes to look more natural and casual and the cuffed pants draw attention to the feet so that you can show off your boat shows even more.

Dark Wash/ Black Skinny Fit

Another option for pairing your boat shoes with jeans is to match them with a dark wash or skinny black jeans. The black and dark colors make the look more sharp and slick while the skinnier fit pulls everything together and makes the look well fitted. The best way to add boat shoes into this outfit is by choosing either an all-black pair or a colorful design to make the whole outfit pop. Our advice is to wear a black leather jacket on top to be really styling.

Colorful Pants

We love to recommend wearing boat shoes with colored jeans. However, it is vital to make sure the color of the pants and shoes don’t clash. For example, if you decide to wear salmon-colored pants, wear boat shoes that are a darker blue or navy color. If you go with a red pair of pants, opt for a brown shoe. This pairing may seem strange in the beginning but use your best judgment.


Boat shoes also go great with shorts. This combo tends to be incredible for the summer months as it makes a regular pair of shorts look more classy and also helps to draw attention to feet. Avoid clunky or darker colored shoes when you wear them with summery shorts and try to opt for the ones that are a bit longer or flared at the bottom.


Boat shoes first started popping up in 1935 and they were invented by Paul Sperry who also invented the popular Sperry Top-Sider brand. He originally created these shoes for sailors so that they could prevent sliding around on the deck of their boats.

He got the inspiration for the soles from his dog Prince’s Paws, giving them a textured grip that helped them stay put on surfaces. Now it has been over 80 years, and the use of the shoes has shifted to people in the fashion know.

How to Wear Boat Shoes Cheat Sheet

  • Figure out which occasion you need the boat shoes for.
  • Choose a base style to start your look.
  • Decide on a color scheme for the shoe.
  • Choose leather or canvas shoe.
  • Choose a particular boat shoe style.
  • Decide on jeans or dress pants that best compliment the shoe.
  • Pick a top that will finish off the look.

Boat Shoes Conclusion

Now it’s time to get out the boat shoes and start incorporating them into your everyday style. They have evolved drastically over the years since their invention which was aimed primarily at sailors. And, it seems that they will continue to evolve to be fashion-forward.