So, what are boat shoes anyway? Well, as the name suggests, they were originally invented to be worn on a boat. In 1935, Paul Sperry noticed how his dog was able to easily run on wet surfaces and so he came up with the idea of a siping, which has since then become a standard in boat shoes. A siping is simply a pattern of cuts on the soles of the shoes designed to improve traction. Other than that, boat shoes are generally water resistant, made of leather and have rubber soles. The soles can be dark or white and are non-marking for good reason (most people don’t want marks on their boat deck ).
Some tend to confuse loafers and boat shoes. If you need a rule of thumb for the purpose of distinction, boat shoes are more sporty and loafers are more formal. If you’re planning on wearing shorts and a t-shirt, then go for boat shoes (choosing loafers in this case would be horrific, but of course). Also, if you want to be part of the cool crowd, if you’re wearing boat shoes, make sure to skip the socks. Really, leave them at home. Socks, you can do with loafers but not with boat shoes.