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The very name of ‘boat shoes’ likely conjures images of yacht decks and maritime voyages, but believe it or not, they long ago evolved past their origin as yachtwear. Today, boat shoes are a staple of everyday fashion, and thanks to their combination of style and versatility, they can go anywhere landlubbers want to take them.
They won’t ever look out of place on semi-formal occasions, (think: summer wedding or heading into work at a relaxed office), but they manage the tricky feat of substituting as trainers, to boot! Read on to have all your burning questions about how and when to wear boat shoes answered.
How do you wear boat shoes?
There are two secrets to pulling off boat shoes: never wear them with overly casual trousers or shorts, and make sure to show them off. Leave the tracksuits, joggers, and jersey shorts at home; instead stick to close-fitting pants, skinny jeans or tailored knee-length shorts that keep them uncovered.
If your trousers rest right on top of your deck shoe, the magic disappears, and depending on the design, you may give off the impression you’re sporting slippers rather than the fashionable footwear you’re wanting to draw attention to. That’s why you should keep your trouser length short - anything from ankle-length to knee-length works. Keeping the ankle visible guarantees the right details of the boat shoe are on display, leaving no doubt you’re properly “decked out.”
If you’re not comfortable baring your ankles, try pairing your shoes with a pair of skinny jeans or narrow-fit pants. That combination will show off enough of your boat shoes while keeping your ankle-modesty intact.
What can I wear with men’s boat shoes?
Boat shoes are versatile, so they can be worn with both smart and casual clothing. Their airy, comfortable appearance means anything on the smarter side of summery will work – loose shirts, knee-length shorts, or T-shirts, for example. They pair just as well with a casual suit, too.
When combining them with trousers, keep them close-fitting or ankle-length (or preferably both!), so the full effect of the look can be brought out. A polo shirt never looks out of place alongside leather deck shoes (thanks in no small part to the shoe’s origins and its preppy Ivy League connotations), but a casual button-up shirt or even a light sweater will round out your look equally well.
There’s a never ending debate as to whether leather boat shoes should ever be worn with socks, but we think the answer is a resounding yes – under the right conditions, of course. It’s too important a topic for us to ignore, so you can read us settling the debate right here.
What can I wear with brown boat shoes?
Boat shoes tend to be brown or blue, but brown boat shoes can make for a striking look. Most trousers and shorts will work well with brown shoes. White trousers can give a particularly dazzling contrast, and don’t shy away from brown or pale blue pants. Avoid blue jeans though.
Brown shoes always carry a slightly more formal air, especially if they boast a polished brown look. That’s probably why brown boat shoes pair better with trousers than with jeans and shorts, as a rule.
Looking for the right occasion to dust off those spiffy brown boat shoes? Lace them up at a wedding where the ceremony and reception are set for outdoors, or hop into a pair in preparation for a night out on the town where you’re keen to dress up while still keeping things low-key.
How do I wear women’s boat shoes?
Women’s boat shoes are inspired by the breezy maritime look that gives them their name. They work best with cropped three-quarter length trousers - especially if they’re loose-fitting - and a light top. Never underestimate how good they look paired with a sun hat, either!
You’re best off keeping with a traditional look with our Classic 2-eye leather boat shoe for women. Comfy, roomy, and perfect for striking a cool look all day when you’re sure to be on your feet for a prolonged period, they’re the perfect accessory for everything from holiday festivities to summer parties to a coffee date with friends.
What occasions are suitable for wearing boat shoes?
Rare is the occasion or social gathering that you couldn’t waltz into with a pair of boat shoes on your feet, as they’re suitable to be worn:
At a wedding
On a night out
In a relaxed office
At the beach
At a summer party
On a date
In a restaurant
And last but not least, on a boat!
Timberland has a fine collection of boat shoes to choose from. At the more formal end, there’s the classic boat shoe for men with its flat sole: a summertime favourite. The Handsewn boat shoe has a more substantial sole – typically Timberland, if you like – and is perfect for when you want a bit more grip, or if it’s going to be a long day on your feet.
If you’re not fussy about shiny leather shoes, take a look at these suede American Craft boat shoes; they’re super comfy and go great with jeans. All the shoes are available in various colours – see the individual products for details.