Boat shoes sail into style

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You don’t need to own a boat to rock the latest footwear trend – that’s right, you guessed it: boat shoes! When Harrisites can’t pick between a pair of kicks and heels, they find a trendy but casual middle ground with these lifesavers. The boat shoe–also known as the deck shoe or top-sider–has transitioned from being a solely nautical necessity to a staple item for men’s and women’s footwear. While they have a reputation for being ultra-preppy, these shoes are now becoming an essential.

Cushioned and close-toed, they are light and airy for summer days, while protective enough for chilly autumn afternoons of taking the bus or train home from school. Though initially designed to provide a firm stance on slippery decks, companies such as Sperry, Tommy Hilfiger, Timberland, Ralph Lauren, Aldo and Polo have adapted this design for a more contemporary look. Rectangularly shaped, often a chestnut color topped with short laces tied in a bow, these shoes can be rocked both on a regular school day, or for a Townsend Harris awards ceremony. Paired with simple jeans and a T-shirt, boat shoes can be part of an everyday look, while a button down shirt and khakis can provide a more formal one–you can even add an interesting sock for a little extra pizzazz.

For the ladies, these shoes are more versatile with pants as opposed to dresses; the type of shirt and pant can transform the shoes to serve a more casual or formal purpose. Also in stripes and brightly-hued color blocks, boat shoes can become a fun and eye-catching but also practical accessory for an otherwise neutral ensemble. If you don’t own a pair of boat shoes yet, get a pair quickly before this ship has sailed!

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