What makes a boat shoe a boat shoe, you’re wondering? Boat shoes are a minimal style of footwear, a slip-on traditionally made of leather or canvas with durable stitching (the type found on moccasins). You’ll recognize them right away for their two eyelets along both sides.

Along with their distinctive profile, boat shoes are more readily known for their anti-slip soles that make them ideal for…you guessed it: boat decks and other wet surfaces. They have a universal appeal that guys and girls of all ages dig.

We love them as a summertime alternative to flip flops. For instance, they are perfect for a backyard wedding where flip flops are too casual but shiny black loafers are overkill.

Vans, one of our favorite footwear brands, is pumping out some great boat shoes these days. It’s basically looking like a boat shoe revival out there. The shoes have come a long way since their hey-day in the 80s.

Let’s take a closer look:

A boat shoe in disguise, the Vans Chauffeur (Suede) Dijon/ Flannel is a nautical-inspired silhouette made of a suede upper with a flannel lining for colder days. It’s a bit of a stray from the traditional boat shoe, as it’s not leather or canvas, but it maintains that boat shoe look and feel:

Vans Chauffeur Suede Dijon Flannel

On the canvas side of things, the Vans Chauffeur 2.0 (Two Tone) Lagoon/Surfosaurus, is a boat shoe member of the Vans Surf line featuring washable, removable memory foam insoles and a light, flexible design. Vans surf shoes are made with water-based inks and glue to maintain an earth-friendly design that holds up to the elements they’re intended for:

Vans Chauffeur 2.0 Two Tone Lagoon Surfosaurus

You can also darken things up some with the Vans Chauffeur 2.0 (Pat G Black/Pewter) that looks really slick with jeans or capris:

Vans Chauffeur 2.0 Pat G Black Pewter

Vans boat shoes are also available in funky prints and more feminine profiles. The Vans Chauffette Navy/ White is the female version on the Chauffeur-style shoe. It’s perfect for a day on the beach:

The Vans Chauffette Navy White

And check out the Vans Chauffeur 2.0 Chili Pepper: It’s a red-hot, brighter boat shoe made for comfort, adding a bit of bold to an otherwise neutral day.

Vans Chauffeur 2.0 Chili Pepper

Betcha didn’t know:

Boat shoes (often called deck shoes by the landlubbers out there), go all the way back to 1935, having been inspired by no other than man’s best friend.

Inventor and avid outdoorsman, Paul A. Sperry from New Haven, Connecticut, noticed one day that his dog could handle walking on ice really well and decided to model a shoe after his dog’s paws—no, not by adding fur and a few claws to the sole of a shoe, but by simply adding slits in the shoe’s sole that provide more traction for slippery surfaces.

Paul’s discovery led to a piece of footwear that is not only functional but fashionable. Outdoorsman turned fashion designer... bet you he didn’t see that one coming!

So, if you feel compelled to head out on the water this Labour Day weekend, we believe a pair of boat shoes will come in handy, no matter where you end up. Be sure to pick up some of these comfy, versatile boat shoes for your next adventure, even if it’s just to your buddy’s wedding. Boat or no boat.

Once you’ve made your selection, the only thing left to do is decide, socks or no socks? We say no socks. For a few reasons:

1. Because Esquire says so
2. It limits tan lines
3. It feels cooler (literally)
4. It looks cooler (literally)

Remember how we told you that many styles of Vans boat shoes have removable memory foam inserts? They keep things feeling fresh and comfy so you won’t even be missing your socks.

Select your favourite Vans boat shoes from the Baggins web store today so the next time you’re singing Lonely Island’s “I’m on a Boat”, you look the part.