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Boat shoes history & popular brands

February 23, 2015

Boat shoes are the footwear of comfort worn by both men and women. They’re usually made of one or two materials, leather or canvas. They have perfect rubber soles that are used specifically for their non-slip ability. As you can imagine, they were originally made for boating, but quickly became a firm fashion staple.

Practical and comfortable Boat shoes

The leather variety leather normally have been treated with oil which would help the shoe repel water. They were worn without socks, and probably look better that way, although it’s not compulsory! You can wear socks with them if you choose, but a plain colour is preferable, and one that matches the shoe.


A long history and some popular brands

Boat shoes have a long history and were invented in the mid-thirties by a Paul Sperry who, strangely enough, was inspired to invent the boat shoe after seeing his dog running over ice without slipping. It seems a random connection, but clearly it inspired him to create a shoe that’s not lost its style or versatility over the years. He created his own company “Sperry Top-Sider” and this type of boat shoe, the Sperry Top-Sider is still popular today. Another successful company who make the boat shoe are Timberland. They are popular throughout Europe, North and South America and China.

Vintage shoes – always the best

Regardless of where or which brand of boat shoe you wear, there’s always more value in a vintage shoe, because they’re often much better made, with clear subtle style differences that make the shoe both original and unique. Keep in mind too, that a vintage boat shoe is also going to be much better value as it will be a lot cheaper, and with every bit as much longevity as a brand new pair.


Women and boat shoes

If you really fancy a pair of boat shoes, it may be a good idea to think about how you’re going to wear them. They’re a great pair of flats to add to your shoe collection and are really versatile. Like ballet flats, they can be worn with a dress and skirt as well as with pants, so as long as you plan carefully, you can easily put an outfit together that includes your new vintage boat shoes.

Men's & Women's boat shoes

Men’s & Women’s boat shoes

Capri pants and cigarette trousers

Capri pants and cigarette trousers are all great with boat shoes, preferably without socks. You can wear them with a pair of cut off denim shorts, a short shirt dress or a mini skirt. Long dresses are not necessarily a good choice with them as it can be a bit of a chunky look and if you’re short in height, you’re likely to make your legs appear even shorter.

Timberland shoes from

Timberland shoes from

Boat shoes and men

For men, they’re a great choice, they can be worn with jeans, shorts (Bermuda or short) and straight or skinny pants. If you’re a little worried about wearing them without socks and the weather’s hot, you can buy some socks that don’t show, that will keep your feet comfortable and still look on trend. There are some athletic versions as well as general menswear socks.


Whatever occasion you wear them for, lunch or boating, a good pair will give you an elegant, masculine look that’s classic and clean cut. Whatever you do, no calf length socks.

Vintage boat shoes from every decade

Take a look at the great selection of vintage boat shoes in the Blue17 online shop, where’ll find every colour and style for both men and women. They’re in fantastic condition and you’ll be spoilt for choice, as well as a vast choice of styles, you’ll find brands like Adidas and Big Tramp vying for your attention. So come on over and take a look.



the Sperry Top-Sider