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Home > Video > Video Display > Boat Shoe Guide - How To Wear Deck Shoes, Break Them In & Mistakes To Avoid

Boat Shoe Guide - How To Wear Deck Shoes, Break Them In & Mistakes To Avoid

See our comprehensive guide to BOAT SHOES here: 
http://gentl.mn/boat-shoes-guide


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In the early 1930's, Paul Sperry looked at his dog and was surprised that he had an amazing amount of grip on the ice. Upon closer inspection of the dog's pads on his feet, he realized that there was a slight herringbone pattern. Intrigued by this pattern, Paul started actually carving a herringbone pattern into his shoes and voila!, he had more grip. 

The process of getting the ridges in your shoe soles is also known as  siping. This concept is actually invented in 1923 by John F. Sipe. In 1935, the first Sperry Topsider boat shoe or deck shoe was introduced to the market and it was a mid-brown shoe with mid-brown leather laces and that was the birth of the boat shoe as you know it today. 

BOAT SHOE CHARACTERISTICS
- The traditional boat shoe came in brown, but today, you can find all kinds of colors. Basically any other color under the sun. 
- In terms of leather, boat shoes are made with a water repellent finish such as the chromexcel from Horween.
- An important feature of the traditional boat shoe is that it's hand-sewn so you can see hand sewing all along. 
- It has the moccasin toe construction which is also sewn by hand though today, sometimes, they're sewn by machine.
- Boat shoes, traditionally, feature a 360-degree lacing system 
- Most boat shoes in the market will feature two rows of aglet.
- In order for it to be a boat shoe, it has to have white soles

In theory, the thin ridges are better for a deck and these are better for streetwear. In practice, I haven't noticed much difference between the thin ridges and the thick ridges. 

The Subject of heated debate is whether you should wear boat shoes with or without socks. Most people wear them barefoot especially when you're in a setting on a deck or a boat simply because you have a better grip and it suits the original style. of course, when it's a little cooler outside and you're not in that setting, you can wear socks with them. If you're concerned that your feet sweat too much, simply get a cotton insert or you can also go with these socks that you don't see and then you have the best of both worlds.

So, when should you wear boat shoes and when should you avoid them? 
- Boat shoes are best paired with slim jeans or pants, khakis, chinos, or slacks.
- Boat shoes are a big step-up from sneakers, and they also work well with denim and jeans in darker tones or also white. They look particularly good at that setting if you combine them with a polo shirt. 
- Can be worn with Oxford cloth button-down shirt because it just fits that whole east-coast type heritage of the shoe. 
- Overall, it's a shoe that's great for the beach or the lake and any other casual setting. 
- Great for traveling.
 
When you buy a new pair of boat shoes, sometimes the leather can be very hard and you have to break them in. The easiest way to do that is to get into the shoe, tighten it, and then make it really wet so the leather can conform to your foot and dry that way. If you don't want to do that, simply wear them a few times on short distances to avoid blistering.

So, how do you take care of your boat shoes? 
- Ideally, use an emulsion based shoe polish, either in that color or in neutral, like the one here. It's important to use those because they soak into the leather. 
- I find these turpentine wax paste a little too much, I only use them very rarely because they add a layer of water proofing but if you only use them, you see cracks and it's simply too much for the leather and the look is not as good. 
- If you're in a dusty environment, they get dirty very quickly.  In that case, I suggest you use a toothbrush and some water and some saddle soap to clean the shoes. It will last you longer and develop a nice patina if you keep them dirt free. 
- Once they're wet, either through rain or because you washed them, make sure to dry them but in a natural setting. 
- Just like any other shoe, you should use a shoe horn to put them on, it will help you to keep the heel in shape. 
- If you get stains in your boat shoes, try to use a little bit of vinegar and water and rub on it.

Now that you know how to treat your shoes, what to pick, what to go for,  the question arises of where to buy your boat shoes? Please do check out our guide for brand recommendations.
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