The Boat Shoe: Primer Approved

Not owning a boat is no reason to not have a pair of boat shoes in your footwear arsenal. With a timeless look and a versatile style, you'll look great at a company barbecue or just heading out in the sun.

Until recently I always thought boat shoes were reserved for guys that are my father's age and the New England prep crowd. I was wrong — the boat shoe is THE quintessential summer shoe for all guys, regardless of age or proximity to Cape Cod.

A well-chosen boat shoe is the most versatile light shoe in your wardrobe armory. Looks great sockless with a pair shorts? Check. Dresses up a pair of jeans for a date while remaining casual enough to not scare her off with your formality? Check. Combined with khakis keeps you professional at your company's summer barbecue? Of course.

Boat shoes also serve another important summer function: they keep our feet, a part of our body oft not seen, safely out of view while not looking out of place on the boardwalk.  This doesn't apply to the dapper readers of Primer, though it's safe to say foot grooming doesn't rank high on the to-do list for most guys.

If you're a guy who has never felt comfortable fwapping flip-flops in the summer, you should definitely check out a pair of boat shoes. There are tons of brands who make them, from the original Sperry Top-Siders to J.Crew. Our pick comes from the  Canvas line from Lands' End. Their low profile keeps the shoes either dressy or more casual depending on the situation. They keep you casual and comfortable while you're enjoying a summer weekend afternoon, and dressy enough if you make your way to drinks in the evening.

Once you start looking for them, you'll see tons of guys wearing them, and the more they get beat up the greater they look.

If you're nervous about any negative side effects of wearing shoes without socks, our pal Brett over at Art of Manliness has an excellent guide on going sockless in the summer. Definitely give it a look-see.

Check them out, currently on sale over at Amazon.


  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Primer Magazine, Chris Meisenzahl. Chris Meisenzahl said: RT @primermag: New on Primer: The Boat Shoe: Primer Approved […]

  • Reply June 22, 2010


    Classic. I wore 2 pair of Sebago Docksides through my college prep high school. Just picked up a canvas pair from Lands’ End over the weekend.
    .-= Speedmaster´s last blog ..When Does Sympathy Become Counter-Productive? =-.

  • Reply June 22, 2010


    Speedmaster, I’ve never owned a pair of Docksides myself, but the blue ones look awesome. Enjoy the Lands’ End pair!
    .-= Andrew´s last blog ..The Boat Shoe: Primer Approved =-.

  • Reply June 22, 2010


    Andrew, the first pair I had WAS the blue ones! 😉 Got the more traditional brown after that.
    .-= Speedmaster´s last blog ..When Does Sympathy Become Counter-Productive? =-.

  • Reply June 23, 2010


    Very cool! Why not have both? 😉 I think I may go for blue or a pair of canvas ones at some point.

  • Reply September 10, 2010


    Just ordered a pair of these! Thank you Primer (via AoM) for the heads-up.

  • Reply September 16, 2010


    Rich, That’s awesome, thanks for letting me know! I hope you like them!

  • […] white canvas sneaker is in the same family as the boat shoe. These shoes are both casual and refined, classic and contemporary, they look great with jeans, […]

  • Reply April 4, 2011

    billy k

    i hope those aren’t your jeans in that pic. those jeans need a serious hem.

  • Reply April 18, 2012


    That pro tip about tightening the side laces is spot on. I just got some new boat shoes and my left foot is a little smaller than my right, so the shoe is a tiny bit too big. Unfortunately I forgot about this tip for the first couple of days, and got a bad blister on my left ankle… 😐

  • Reply July 1, 2012


    can anyone tell me the color of those shoes? The two options available on the site don’t look like the pictures up top

  • […] get me wrong – the boat shoe is an awesome first choice in upgrading your casual footwear for the summer months. It looks great […]

  • Reply May 21, 2014


    Does anyone know what color those are?

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