Last updated on December 1st, 2023 at 09:25 am
Somewhere between a lace-up and a slip-on, the nautical-inspired boat shoe is a bright, airy and on-trend choice for casual men’s footwear. We take a look at how to wear boat shoes, whether stepping out in your workday wear or smartening up for Saturday night.
With a range of colours and materials to choose from – including classic leather and lightweight canvas – boat shoes can easily be incorporated into every man’s wardrobe.
Versatile, comfortable, and trendy, the boat shoe is a staple for smart-casual and relaxing wear. Read on to find out how to wear boat shoes for every outfit and occasion.
At the office
Branch out beyond the usual brogues and loafers with a pair of classic leather boat shoes. Choose a neutral colour, like dark brown, and combine the footwear with navy chinos for smart-casual dress codes or tailored trousers for a more formal appearance.
Top Tip: Avoid rolling up your hem as this can look too relaxed for an office setting. Instead, opt for a pair of slightly cropped trousers so they gently skim the top of the shoes.
What to Buy: Hush Puppies Henry Classic Lace Up Brown Shoes
The dark brown leather is reminiscent of a classic loafer and compliments navy, grey and black trousers.
With a suit
Boat shoes aren’t just restricted to casual occasions. Pair them with your favourite blazer and trouser combo for formal outings. The contrast between casual footwear and smart tailoring creates a laidback summer look.
Top Tip: Pick a pair of boat shoes that contrast to the colour of your suit, such as all-white boat shoes with a grey suit.
What to Buy: Urban Territory Men’s Black Lace Up Shoe
These sleek black boat shoes are extremely versatile and, when paired with a suit, are great for formal occasions.
Boat shoes with chinos are a natural pairing for a variety of occasions. Add a shirt with rolled up sleeves and a neutral belt for a smart-casual everyday outfit. Or pick a contrasting blazer for a casual take on the summer suit.
Top Tip: If you choose a colourful pair of chinos, like red or green, make sure you pair them with a neutral pair of boat shoes, like brown or navy.
What to Buy: Hush Puppies Winston Men’s Leather Shoe in Tan
The classic tan colour works well with colourful chinos or more neutral navy. Roll up the trouser hem once or twice for a relaxed look.
For everyday wear
Whether you’re going into town or playing with your kids at the park, boat shoes offer a blend of style and comfort from being on your feet. Pair with jeans or shorts for a casual, dressed-down look and stick to colours which work with a variety of outfits in your wardrobe.
Top Tip: Purchase a pair of no-show socks to wear with your boat shoes, to keep your feet comfortable all day long.
What to Buy: Cushion Walk Declan Men’s Casual Tan Slip On Shoes
These stylish shoes are perfect for days out in the spring or summer. The tan colour makes them the perfect accompaniment to any smart-casual outfit, while the durable sole means they’re incredibly long-lasting.
Boat shoes are great alternatives to slippers, especially if you like to split your time between the house and the garden. The cushioned sole offers support, while canvas material stops your feet overheating. Choose a neutral colour so you don’t have to worry about what you wear while you’re lounging or gardening.
Top Tip: To keep your boat shoes in great condition, keep a separate canvas pair for around the house and a leather pair for going out and about.
What to Buy: Dr Keller Lincoln Men’s Grey Lace Up Canvas
This canvas boat shoe is lightweight for wearing around the house, while a thick sole provides cushioning for when you’re outside.
As the ultimate summer shoe, there’s no better place to flaunt your new boat shoes than on holiday. Wear them to the airport with shorts and a t-shirt to enjoy travelling in comfort. For sunset strolls around the marina or dinners by the beach, pair a dark boat shoe with clean white trousers and a coloured shirt.
Top Tip: When going on holiday, pick a pair of boat shoes that works for day and night to save space in your suitcase.
What to Buy: Declan Grey Slip On Loafer
These versatile boat shoes are perfect for exploring the local area by day, but can also be dressed up for romantic dinners after sunset.
For warm summer days or trips to the beach, you can’t go wrong with a pair of boat shoes and shorts. Choose a lightweight material to keep your feet cool and comfy. You can even opt for a sporty style so you can still enjoy getting involved in any outdoor activities.
Top Tip: If you’re wearing shorts, don’t wear socks with your boat shoes. This will make your feet too warm and draw attention to your legs rather than your footwear.
What to Buy: Hush Puppies Aiden Lace Up Boat Shoe in Green
The faded colour and breathable canvas material is perfect for the summer. The contrasting white sole adds a sporty feel to the shoe, perfect for days out.
On a date
Whether you’re going out for dinner or a picnic in the park, show off your great style and taste with a pair of boat shoes. Pick a simple design in a classic colour if you’re not sure what to wear, or show off your personality with extra details and a hint of colour.
Top Tip: If your boat shoes are contrasting to the rest of your outfit, you can tie the look together with a belt. For example, wear a brown belt with navy trousers and brown boat shoes.
What to Buy: Hush Puppies Theo Lace Up Moccasin in Brown
You’re sure to impress your date in these stylish brown boat shoes. The simple details and tonal colour scheme work for both casual and special occasions.
There’s something about denim which works wonders for boat shoes. Maybe it’s the dark blue contrasted with the light brown, or maybe it’s how the deck shoes elevate an outfit. Pair your boat shoes with jeans and a t-shirt for a classic everyday look or add a blazer for something smart-casual.
Top Tip: Turn up the hem of your jeans to make your outfit seem more effortless. It also draws attention to the boat shoes themselves.
What to Buy: Hush Puppies Classic Lace Up Shoe in Light Brown
This light brown colour is the perfect contrast to dark blue denim. The leather material is practical and durable, while the moccasin toe adds a twist to the classic boat shoe.
How to wear boat shoes with socks
While the usual advice is to avoid wearing boat shoes with socks, there are some exceptions to this rule. No-show socks are a great option for reducing wear in your boat shoes and adding an extra layer of comfort. If you fancy making a statement, pick a patterned sock that will add a splash of colour to your footwear – mustard yellow works well with navy shoes.
Top Tip: Adding ankle socks with a hint of colour draws the eye to your footwear, making them a great way to frame your boat shoes.
What to Buy: Mens Roscoe Slip On Shoe in Brown
These brown boat shoes work both with and without socks, while the thick sole offers extra support for everyday wear.
Stuck on how to style the rest of your shoe collection? Find great styling guides and more on the shoezone blog.