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What to wear besides boat shoes

| Thursday, August 18, 2016

Shoes webSUSAN ZHU | The Observer

For many guys, pairing shoes with shorts is a hassle. Add the crippling fear of being unfashionable during the first days of college, and many freshmen will be taking the safe route and sporting boat shoes during the first weeks of school.

Boat shoes are simple and rarely look out of place, which is for many guys — myself included — the measure of a successful outfit. Yet sticking to a single pair of shoes (two for the dedicated prepster) is so limiting. Worse, wearing a boat shoe every day in the sweaty heat of a South Bend summer leads to rancid results. Check out some less smelly alternatives.

White sneakers

Every guy should own a clean pair of white sneakers. If versatility is what you seek in the boat shoe, purchasing a white pair of sneakers will be a tremendous addition to your wardrobe. Easily workable into just about any outfit, the white sneaker provides a nice contrast without distracting from your look.

Additionally, a white sneaker will fit into any college budget. Whether you’re looking to drop some serious dough on a fancy pair of Common Projects, or stay frugal and classic with a pair of Vans, there is an option for every man.


The Vans iconic slip-on is another viable summer option. Whether the classic checkerboard is your style or you feel like something a bit more conservative, slip-ons provide a relaxed yet sharp look. While Vans may have pioneered the slip-on, you’ll find it worthwhile to venture out to other brands, or even other materials.

Classic flip-flops

While flip-flops may seem like a given, venturing out on the first day of classes in your shower shoes is by no means a good idea. It’s hard to go wrong with an understated flip-flop. 

Both Havaianas and Reef offer a large line of well-made flip-flops in a variety of colors and styles. A word to the wise: Don’t be the guy showing off the bottle opener on the bottom of your Reefs at any occasion — wait until the tailgate situation calls for a hero. While you are at it, make sure your feet are well-groomed.


When you need a tad more support than flip-flops but wish to keep the lightweight and comfortable appeal, the espadrille may provide a solution. Breathable and versatile, the espadrille’s rope-braided edge conveys a beachy vibe and can be worn with most summer outfits. Espadrilles come in a myriad of colors, fabrics and designs, as well as price points.

Leather Sandals

Leather sandals add a sophisticated spin to most summer outfits, and in black or brown they make another versatile alternative to the boat shoe. While some guys may be hesitant to go all in for Birkenstocks (though I love mine), many brands offer leather sandal options.  


While loafers are usually associated with formal attire, a casual pair of loafers can sharpen summer wear. Similarly, a relaxed driving shoe dials a casual outfit up a notch. Try experimenting with different variations and colors. 

Now your feet are ready to complement your best pair of cargo shorts, without letting the jokes get you down.

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About Adam Ramos

Adam is studying international economics in the class of 2018. He hails from beautiful New Jersey and says "draw" instead of "drawer."

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