Men's Watches

What You Need to Know About the History of Boat Shoes.


Do you know what is a boat shoe? If you don’t, people wear boat shoes when they are on boats. In fact, it is very popular among sailors and anyone who regularly go on boating trips. Over the years, it has evolved to become a fashion statement when everyone started wearing them in the 1980s and 1990s.

The preppy handbook released in 1980 which list Sperry’s boat shoe as the preppy shoe (Source: Pinterest)

Now, when everyone thinks of boat shoes, the first thing that comes in mind is summer seasons, beaches, boats, and Sperry’s.

#summerfashion(Source: Instagram @king.ofthe.dub)

#summerfashion(Source: Instagram @fashionsensored

But do you know where do boat shoes come from? It all started from its humble beginnings of a cocker spaniel named Prince and its owner Paul Sperry.

Cocker Spaniel (Source:



Young Paul Sperry (Source:

In case you do not know, Paul A. Sperry was the founder of the Sperry’s Top-Sider company which manufactures boat shoes. Whenever anyone thinks of boat shoes, they will always think of Sperry’s boat shoes.

Sperry Top-Sider Authentic Original (Source:

It was so famous that it became the official shoe for the US Navy during 1939. You can click here to get the complete boat shoe history from


Paul A. Sperry, the founder


Paul A. Sperry was born in 1895 in New Haven, Connecticut. He was a former first-class seaman in the US Navy during 1917 and begin to work in his families business. Growing up, he always listened to stories of his grandfather’s sailing adventure and was inspired and grew to like sailing and boats.


Sperry first class seaman(Source:

In the 1930s, he purchased a boat and its name was Sirocco. Together with his wife, Pauline they will regularly sail on Sirocco and even joined the New York yacht club and the Offshore Sounding Club for sailors.

Paul Sperry’s Sirocco and his passion for Sailing (Source:


One day, on a long night, Paul accidentally slipped on his wooden deck of the Sirocco and fell off his boat. Luckily, he managed to grab onto something and pull himself back to his boat. Note, everyone on the boat was fast asleep at that time.



This event inspired him to create a shoe which is non-slip and can be used on the slippery wooden decks of boats. Thus, this begins the long mission of Sperry to create the boat shoe.


Cocker Spaniel, Prince and the birth of Sperry

Dog running on ice and snow( Source:

One day in the cold winter, Paul Sperry decided to bring his cocker spaniel, Prince for a walk to clear his head while working on the non-slip shoes. He saw that the dog was able to run through icy grounds without slipping and figured that there was something which helped the dog to grip the ice.

Classic herringbone wave like pattern (

He was right. In fact, there were grooves and crack called herringbone pattern on the dog’s paw. Paul took this inspiration and use a penknife to carve zigzag grooves on the rubber sole and stick it onto his old pair of shoes.

Sperry’s Authentic Original 2 Eyed Shoes (Source:

To test out his theory, he tried his shoes on the decks of his Sirocco. And voila!! Paul was right that the grooves on the sole helped to maintain the non-slip shoes for boats. From 1935 onwards, the first Sperry Top-Sider/boat shoes were created.



Retro 80s boat shoe fashion (Source: throwback-thursday-boat-shoes)

If you were Paul Sperry at this time, you will have been rich and successful as the Sperry’s boat shoes were in the 1900s to early 2000s. Not only the shoes works it also inspired a fashion revolution among men and women.

Instagram #boatshoe(Source:@sperry_nl)

Instagram #boatshoes(Source:@frautshoes)

Nowadays, the classic boat shoes are always matched with shorts and an short sleeve oxford shirt in white, or pastel colors.


If you don’t want Sperry’s, you can check us out here and here to see for other brand’s boat shoes as well. Today, you can get Sperry’s boat shoes everywhere. No doubt, the Sperry’s boat shoe is one shoe which every man should have at least a pair.



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