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The Return Of The Boat Shoe

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Get acquainted with this summer classic

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The thing about fashion is that it’s a cyclical unceasing churn of things making a comeback.  Styles we thought we’d never see again are all back: The ’70s-inspired corduroys, pleated pants, Bermuda shorts and dad shoes! So, here we are with a pair of shoes that were not considered cool until fashion ace Miuccia Prada put them on the runway—where they were done up with touches of pop colours and more contemporary silhouettes! Voila, just like that the most-dad shoe out there became uber cool! 

ORIGIN STORY
The first-ever boat shoe referred to as the Sperry Top-Sider, was made in the US in 1937 by Paul S Sperry. While sailing on his boat, Sperry slipped on the deck and fell overboard-and that’s when he had a eureka moment to develop a non-slip shoe! While experimenting with various designs, he noticed his dogs’ ability to run down the icy hill without slipping and grooves on their paws inspired him to try cutting grooved patterns (siping) into a natural rubber sole. The two unique features of the classic boat shoe are the laces traverse the heel for a 360-degree lace-up, ensuring they don’t fly off the deck in high winds, plus the patterned, soft sole made sure you didn’t either! In the late 1930s, it is said to have become the official footwear of the casual uniform of the US Naval Academy!

A SUMMERTIME ICON
The boat shoe keeps being relevant because it just works. It’s essentially a fantastic summer shoe—slouchy, comfortable, can be dressed up or down and can be easily slided on and off! Having said that, the boat shoe can be a tough one to pull off. Get it wrong and you could end up looking like a sailing-club dad or like an older guy who just got kicked off the campus. Getting it right will earn you major streetwear creds, especially during summer. They’re also a laid-back alternative to the more formal styles from the summer shoe rack—such as the leather loafer, Oxford or Derby shoes.

WEAR THEM RIGHT
You can style the boat shoes in different ways. If you’re looking to take a plunge and give this style a try—start by getting a basic pair—in neutral leather. An all-black monochrome look with ripped jeans with a black pair has a big-metropolis vibe. The boat shoe is the go-to pair of the preppy or Ivy League style, but now with street creds.  So, while it will work perfectly well with chinos and polo shirts, add a bit of edge by teaming a boat shoe in a bold hue with pleated khakis and a vest with a pair of boat shoes. Channel beach-vacay style in a Hawaiian shirt, cotton pants, a two-toned brown moccasin-style upper boat shoe and sunglasses. When in doubt, stick to ankle-length cotton trousers and denims. 

Editor’s tips: Choose no-show socks to make your boat shoes last. Your friends will thank you too! There isn’t a look that says summer than Khaki shorts paired with a linen button-down shirt and tan-leather boat shoes.

Opt for leather,  suede or a colour-blocked one if you’re feeling adventurous. Get a chunky sole to help you glide over those murky puddles. While it’s true that we won’t be spending much time on a boat or a yacht, these nautical-themed shoes will make you feel like you’re on a tropical holiday no matter where you are. 

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

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