Which summer footwear will you choose: fisherman’s sandals or boat shoes?

— by Alyson Walsh

Photos: Neil Mackenzie Matthews. Boat shoes, Crew Clothing


This summer, footwear has gone coastal. With nautical style inspiration blowing in from the harbour in the form of fisherman’s sandals and boat shoes. Previously associated with the yachting set (or WASPs if you’re on the other side of the Atlantic), most of us are old enough to remember Timberland’s deck shoe trending in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Thanks to the Miu Miu spring/ summer catwalk show, the soft leather lace-up is back. And, Vogue has declared 2024 ‘the year of the boat shoe.‘ While I do like the Miu Miu styling (the Jeffrey Campbell Boat Shoe is quite similar and approx £650 cheaper), the jury’s out on this nautical-but-quite-nice look. Perhaps deck shoes are a bit too posh to push my feet into?

Apparently, the OG boat shoe was invented by Paul Sperry, in 1935; after falling overboard he developed a non-slip sole (inspired by his cocker spaniel’s footpads); and Sperry is still a good place to shop for sporty footwear, today. I’m into the Authentic Original boat shoe in navy and conker, the stacked sole version and laid back Bahama sneaker-cum-boat-shoe-hybrid. Sebago is another excellent brand if you’re looking for a tan leather pair, or why not whoop things up with this jaunty Portland style. And, Timberland’s Classic Boat Shoe has recently blown-up on social media, I like the chunky lug-soled version. Take my advice and lean-away from the Hamptons/ Hampshire vibe and wear deck shoes barefoot with rolled up cargo pants, a Miu Miu-inspired pencil skirt or midi dress and a chore jacket.



Inspired by Mediterranean fishermen of the 1940s, the other nautical option on offer has the breathability of a sandal combined with the sturdiness of a shoe. My favourite style this season is the Siracuse at Russell & Bromley, with an enclosed heel (that won’t flap about like most sandals) and supportive leather footbed. Head to LK Bennett for a similar design in a soft blush tone and Seasalt Cornwall for a lovely forest green.

The slingback sandals I’m wearing above are the Queenie from Grenson, available in tan, black and white leather. There’s also a version with a chunkier, low platform sole. On the high street, M&S has a strappy fisherman’s sandal in tan and black, and Toast has a chic Italian leather option by the family-run company Fracup. If you prefer to shop small, Blackhorse Lane Atelier’s city sandals are well-worth a look. In terms of styling, I like my fisherman’s friends teamed with a neat shirtdress or oversized boiler-suit. If the British summer doesn’t show up this year, these shoes also look good paired with socks and a waterproof coat.

When you’re bored with Birkis and prefer to keep your podiatry problems covered, these are both bunion-concealing styles.

Boat shoes or fisherman’s sandals, which summer shoes will you choose?


That’s Not My Age is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy. 




Keep Reading

Dealing with your digital legacy

  This summer, footwear has gone coastal. With nautical style inspiration blowing in from the harbour in the form of fisherman’s sandals and boat shoes.