As the calendar flips to warmer months, our minds begin to drift toward summer – summer warmth, summer adventures and of course, summer outfits.
Summer reminds us of our history sponsoring some of the world’s most famous sailing races, when we outfitted the sport’s top sailors with their footwear. Luckily for lovers of boat shoes, they’re no longer made just for teak decks. Boat shoes can be worn everywhere, from the boat to the BBQ, casual Friday to date night.
What are boat shoes?
Boat (or deck) shoes were originally designed to help sailors better grip the deck. Virtually every boat shoe has the same anatomy: siping (thin slices in the rubber sole’s surface to help with traction in slick conditions); oiled leather or canvas uppers made to repel water; and highly durable stitching throughout the shoe to literally tie it all together.
The question for many men: how do I style boat shoes for a day on or off the water? The answer: working this summer staple into any outfit is easy. Once you realize how versatile the shoe can be, the rest is smooth sailing.
Here are three ways to pull off boat shoes (with a bonus outfit for the ladies).
Cool days & cooler evenings
While summer is on our minds, spring is still very much a thing here in New England where temps range from 70º one day and below freezing the next. While we don’t suggest building a snowman while wearing boat shoes (we don’t like frostbite), we do recommend breaking out your pair in early spring. They wear nicely on a windy day and easily transition to a cool spring night.
Bonus: several colors of our Bennett Lane 3 Boat Shoes are machine washable. Should muddy, wet weather strike on a romantic walk (or walk with the dog), you can just throw them in the wash and start fresh tomorrow. (Shoe care tip: click here for directions to wash machine washable shoes.)
Here we combined Nantucket Red pants, a cowl neck sweater (to keep out the spring chill), and our Bennett Lane 3 Boat Shoes, which are lightweight and flexible – perfect for a day on the boat, weekend exploring, or a nighttime bonfire.
Dressing up the boat shoe
Boat shoes are here to stay as a comfortable addition to any work-appropriate summer wardrobe. We’d even go as far as saying that the style crosses over into the men’s loafer family, as it can add a bit of personality to a professional look. Long story short: you may be stuck at work on a gorgeous day, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a little summer (and comfort) into the office.
Casual dress pants, a button down, our Jeffrey’s Bay 2-Eye Boat Shoe, and some sharp accessories will have you ready for any meeting. Just be sure to keep your bucket hat and aviators close by for when you sneak out to catch some rays (your secret’s safe with us).
Summer soiree style
If you’re looking for something a little more “party ready” for warmer afternoons, this is where it gets even easier to style boat shoes.
Try the layered look with a canvas jacket for when the wind picks up off the water and a fun button down shirt that lets people know you put effort into the look (even if you’d prefer to be wearing that old, but no less loved t-shirt from your college days). Canvas shorts and our Summer Sea 2-Eye Boat Shoes complete the look.
For the ladies…
Ladies and gents alike enjoy a good nautical-inspired outfit, so we couldn’t leave the ladies out. This look is for those days when you (or your gal pal) want to rock the boat (shoe) with a dressier look, so you’re ready for anything the day brings: cheering on the sidelines at t-ball, scouring the local antique fair, or…stay with us…for those times you find yourself on a boat.
We rounded this outfit out with a layering jacket for that morning chill; a nautical bag large enough to carry the day’s essentials (and any fun finds you may stumble across along the way); and our favorite part – our women’s Cambridge Blvd, machine washable boat shoes.
Then, place the shoes by themselves into the washing machine. Use a gentle cycle with cold water and a liquid detergent (not bleach).
Once the cycle is complete, lay the footwear on a nonporous surface to air dry overnight (time to dry will depend on local humidity)
The footbed can be washed separately in warm, soapy water and air-dried.