Shopping for Women's Boat Shoes
By Jean D
, last updated May 20, 2011
Women's boat shoes can offer you a remarkable combination of style and comfort. The shoes have thick soles with tough, gripping bottoms that can keep you from sliding off the slick, wet surface of a boat. The tops of the shoes, with their jaunty combination of fabric and ties, give you a classy, put-together style. You can wear boat shoes with socks or without. Choosing the right boat shoes for you may take a little effort, as there are so many styles available and not all of them may be comfortable to wear over the long-term.
A boat shoe can be made of leather, canvas or a synthetic material. Boat shoes made of leather can be slightly more expensive than synthetic fabrics, but the leather fabric may be more comfortable to wear over the long run as the fabric breathes and tends to keep moisture from building up inside the shoe. The sole of a well-made boat shoe is thick with a tough, non-skid surface. The thick sole also provides you with arch support as you walk, which is extremely important if you plan to wear your boat shoes for long periods of time. While boat shoes with thin soles and no arch support may be less expensive, your feet will pay the price at the end of a long day. Boat shoes typically have white soles, as they were designed to be worn on the deck of boats, where shoes with black soles will leave unsightly marks. Some boat shoe manufacturers bend this rule and provide buff-colored soles on their boat shoes. The laces that circle the top of a boat shoe and tie at the top of the foot are sometimes only decorative, and sometimes are functional.
Boat shoes are often unisex shoes, meaning both men and women can buy the same pair of shoes and look equally elegant in them. This doesn't mean, however, that men should cram their feet in too-small shoes or women should allow themselves to flop around in shoes that are too large. Boat shoes are designed to be comfortable as soon as you put them on. They are not designed to stretch and become bigger and more comfortable with time. If your shoe is not comfortable right out of the box, exchange for another size. You should be able to move your toes comfortably within your shoes, and your heel should fit snugly in the heel.
The shoe manufacturer Sperry designed the boat shoe in the 1930s, when the owner of the company discovered that his dog could walk on his boat desk with ease while he slipped and slid. The Sperry Boat Shoe is designed after the dog's foot pad, and the design as remained essentially unchanged. In 2011, Sperry Boat Shoes were available for about $75. Sebago boat shoes are made by hand, out of one piece of leather. This brand of shoe is slightly more expensive, and sold for just under $100 in 2011. Many other manufacturers such as Vans, Eastland and Timberland also sell boat shoes in varying prices from about $50 to well over $100 in 2011.
Many manufacturers are beginning to tweak the traditional boat shoe styles. Some designers add colorful patterns to the sides of the shoes, use different fabric around the lace of the shoe, or make the entire shoe itself out of a wild color of fabric. It's possible to buy many different versions of boat shoe without ever duplicating a design.
Many boat shoes are designed to be worn near the water, and to get wet on occasion. This doesn't mean that they can be wet day after day without developing a moldy, musty odor. If you plan to wear your boat shoes while you're boating, purchase more than one pair. This way, you can rotate through your shoes every other day and allow the shoes to dry out thoroughly between wearings. Some decorative styles may not be appropriate for this type of hard labor.
Where to Buy
Boat shoes are available nearly everywhere shoes are sold, but they are traditionally more abundantly available in the spring and summer months as these shoes are considered summertime wear. If you choose to buy your boat shoes from an online store, look for a store that offers a money-back guarantee. As mentioned, boat shoes are designed to be comfortable right out of the box. Make sure you can send the shoes right back if they pinch or don't appear to be the right size.