Deck Shoes: The Ultimate Guide

Ultimate Guide to Deck Shoes

Your Go-To Guide for Boat Shoes

You may have seen deck shoes making a splash in the fashion industry over the recent years, with a resurgence in their popularity making waves around the world. 

Created to embrace the ocean and all it brings, the deck shoe is a summer staple for anyone who loves the outdoors. Also known as boat shoes, their classic design is instantly recognisable and widely celebrated. 

Although they are commonly associated with sailing and fishing, the modern boat shoe is also a firm favourite on dry land. The sleek look offered by these casual boat shoes is easy to match with the rest of your wardrobe, seeing them slip comfortably into coastal, city, and country life. 

So, set sail with us as we put the spotlight on the humble deck shoe, from the high seas to Hollywood celebrities, and now their settled home at Hollands Country Clothing.


How it All Began - the History of the Deck Shoe

If we take it right back to the beginning, we find ourselves in 1935 with a man and his dog. 

Away from the busy bustle of Manhattan, the stretches of gorgeous coastal beauty in Long Island are like something out of a movie. And it was here where inventor and keen active sailor Paul Sperry had that undeniable lightbulb moment. 

It was the paws of Prince, Sperry's pup, which caused this inspiration. Sperry noted that the tiny grooves in Prince's paws meant that he was able to run on the ice without slipping. The maximum grip that had been achieved sparked something in Sperry, and, so, the deck shoe was born. 

This shoe was designed by Sperry for other active sailors, as proper footwear that helped provide the traction grip needed on wet decks. As the production of these shoes came into circulation, it seemed like the special connection between sailor and sea was suddenly drastically improved, and it was all down to the grippy soles protecting them against the slippery decks.


So, What is a Deck Shoe?

A pair of classic deck shoes are characterised by their nautical designs, practical features, and exceptional comfort.

Traditionally, the boat shoe is made with a moccasin construction, which is where the leather sits underneath the sole and is built around the foot.

The non-marking rubber soles are slip resistant; typically, they were white - although this design feature has adapted over time. The leather upper is usually in a neutral colour, like brown leather. The streamlined design also sees a 'one-lace' system, where the laces surround the foot and then get tied at the front. 

The beautiful design of the deck shoe aims to be a non-slip shoe with the ultimate grip. An avid sailor's best friend, and a versatile standout in outdoor shoes. 


Which Are the Best Deck Shoes?

Essentially, there is no right or wrong answer as to the ultimate deck shoe. Personal preference, budget, and style choice all come into play, making the best deck shoes simply the pair of deck shoes you like best.

Deck shoes are great alternatives to standard sneakers, tennis shoes, loafers, and flip flops. They come in a range of colours, in traditional or fashion-focused looks, and from brands who know and love the outdoors.

Hollands' excellent range of quality leather boat shoes and arena shoes demonstrate that there is a pair for everyone. We offer more high-end, premium price choices with Dubarry and Ariat, and then wardrobe staples with Hoggs of Fife. You can also find more athletic deck shoes, with modern deck trainers from the likes of Musto.

Within our wide range, you'll see, of course, the non-slip rubber soles that deck shoes are renowned for, but also look out for other incredible features. There are those with excellent water resistance finishes, extra cushioning footbeds, removable insoles, and breathable comfort. Whatever you're looking for in your pair of shoes, you'll find it here. 


How to Care for Your Deck Shoes

Just like with anything you love, it's important to take care of it. Boat shoes need a little TLC every now and then, to keep them looking their best and to make sure they last.

Follow these quick and simple steps to care for your deck shoes:

  • Gently brush off any visible dirt or debris on the shoes
  • Dip a soft cloth in leather cleaner and wipe down the shoes
  • Rinse - don't soak them - and then let them air dry. Use shoe trees to help keep the shape
  • Apply mink oil or leather conditioner


What to Wear With Your Deck Shoes?

Make a pair of deck shoes from Hollands your signature look for the summer.

Easy to style and being super comfy, these casual shoes are perfect for when the warmer weather bursts into play.

Boat shoes are usually known as a leisure shoe for everyday wear. Seen around country clubs and health spas, on college campuses and prep schools, on beaches and at summer barbeques, on yachts and for water sports, and on mall trips and just around the town, the deck shoe has its firm place in the outdoor living lifestyle.

Deck shoes took their moment to shine in the 60s, with Hollywood stars stepping out in their favourite styles and showing off the classic boat shoe in all its glory. Nowadays, you continue to see these shoes in the pages of celeb-spotting magazines - showing the timeless appeal of a pair of boat shoes.

With their origins as a shoe for sailing, it's no surprise that they match well with the classic colours of tan, navy, and white. However, again, it's all about personal taste. You can mix and match your shoes with whatever you feel comfortable in. 

As a general starting point, we offer a few guidance tips for styling below:



  • Pair with chinos and a polo shirt for a crisp, clean-cut look
  • Dress down in shorts and a singlet for casual beach days
  • Slip on a pair of boat shoes with tailored jeans and a relaxed button-down shirt 



  • Give your deck shoes that relaxed holiday feel by pairing them with your favourite sundress
  • Choose a pair of cropped trousers and simple t-shirt to match your deck shoes with
  • Be summer ready with shorts and tank tops for casual attire that looks great with a pair of boat shoes


Hollands & Summer Style

As a family who loves anything outdoors, Hollands knows the importance of being prepared for any season.

Alongside our amazing deck shoes, we have plenty of gear for your summer wardrobe. Our collections are filled with lightweight clothing, fantastic footwear, and practical and fashionable accessories that will see you set for the summer.

Our sun hats and walking hats are perfect for combatting the heat, and dress for the warm weather in our shorts and casual shirts. Keep hydrated when you're lounging out on the patio with our flasks and drinkware, and have a gilet handy for when the sun goes in on your lazy evenings in the garden. 

Taking your pup with you to the beach for a sunny afternoon picnic or game of volleyball? Make sure you're prepared for the day with all our dog accessories, leads, car covers, and more. The kids are also set with our great range of budget friendly children's clothes

Whatever the weather, and whatever the season, Hollands can't wait to be a part of the journey with you. Check out our full summer country clothing collection and stock up on your favourites!



As we head back into the harbour, we hope you have seen the deck shoe for all it can be. As a summer outdoor shoe, the comfort is unmatched, and we love the versatility and traditional look. It's a product which will burst you into vacation mode, no matter where you are or what you're doing. 

On and off land, a pair of boat shoes is designed to fit comfortably. Once you break your shoes in, the material will start shaping to your foot - giving you maximum comfort and taking the phase from fits like a glove, to fits like a boat shoe.

It is usually suggested to go for your regular size, but, as they will stretch out over time, you want to go smaller rather than larger. A slightly snug fit is recommended.

If you'd like to talk deck shoes, or anything else Hollands, with our lovely customer service team, please don't hesitate to get in touch via phone or email - we are always happy to help!


With her extensive firsthand experience of farm life and a keen eye for quality, Sarah Holland's advice on womens country clothing reflects her genuine appreciation for the joys and comfort of rural living. Whether it's a smart tweed jacket for a formal occasion or durable wellies for muddy walks, she knows what works for life in the countryside. Sarah loves sharing her knowledge and insights to help others discover the perfect attire for their outdoor lifestyle.

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