Stop With The Boat Shoes! Here Are Some Professional Alternatives

At some point, usually in college, young adults realize that they really need to step up their game regarding appearance. Yes, what you wear matters. So, you go out and buy some nice polo shirts, chinos, leather belts and other accessories. This is the easy part.

Eventually, you come down to footwear, and wonder, “Can I get away with wearing running sneakers?”. The answer is no. So what’s the quickest alternative to sneakers? Something that has similar comfort, is quick to get on but looks good?

Many come to the conclusion that boat shoes are the best alternative. Walking through college campuses, you will see that many well dressed young men choose boat shoes to compliment their chinos/khakis.

I think that this is not a problem. But, when these types of shoes leave the college campus and migrate into a professional environment, it does become a problem. Many conclude that boat shoes should stay on campus, as do I. They’re just not professional, and there are tonnes of great alternatives. The popularity of boat shoes continues to remain strong simply because their wearers don’t search any further than these shoes.

(Even if you do choose to wear boat shoes after this article, remember – they are a summer shoe. So many wear them year round, and this should not be the case. So, even if you do use these as a summer shoe, you may want to consider a new style for the winter.)

Here are the seven best alternatives to boat shoes:

Penny Loafers

Perhaps the best, most common alternative to boat shoes, Penny Loafers are commonly known as the more sophisticated option to boat shoes. Also, while similar to Mocassins, they are a step-up – with a separate sole and heel. Think of them as the all-around professional casual shoe.

Cole Hann’s are well known as a quality, long lasting money. While pricier than other brands, you are paying for the quality, subtle style differences and comfort. However, because penny loafers are one of the most common casual shoes, you can find a pair in every price range.

Blucher Moc

Blucher Moccasins are the most rugged style of moccasin, and accordingly, can be worn during all seasons. The shoe design is actually taken from two different styles – the blucher and the moccasin, combining both to have the best of both worlds. If you want a step up from a boat shoe, but not much a change in style, this type of shoe is for you.

The above Sebago Blucher Moc is a great combination of quality and value. You can see both stylings perfectly on the shoe – the blucher laces and upper region, along with the moccasin toe and stitching.

Driving Moc

Meet the most casual style of shoe on this list. While it is a great alternative to the boat shoe – one that will make you more sophisticated, it isn’t something that you should wear to a client dinner or important meeting. And, like boat shoes, they should only come out during summer.

Minnetonka is one of the most well-known moccasin manufacturers, and all of their products are very well made. But, as you can see in the above image of the Minnetonka Men’s Driving Moc, they are a very light, very casual shoe.

Wing Tips

Enter the casual business shoe. You can wear these with a jacket and to work, but not to a formal business dinner, or other events like that. Wing Tips are a very large, widespread style of shoe, so naturally, there are more options.

Two-tone wingtip shoes allow you to be even more casual, while still being respectable. These Asher Grey two-tone leather wingtip shoes are sold at a great price. Though the brand is lesser know, Asher Grey always delivers very high-quality shoes at a low price.


Yes, you can wear sneakers, especially if you are replacing boat shoes. However, I’m not talking about bright orange Adidas running sneakers. When wearing sneakers with a nonathletic outfit, they should be made out of cloth or suede. It is worth noting that these cannot be worn in any formal setting – they are strictly a casual shoe.

Try a slip on cloth Vans shoe, or a suede Nike. Another sneaker like alternative would be suede oxfords.

With such a wealth of options, there really is no excuse to be wearing boat shoes. If you have any other suggestions, or want to argue for or against boat shoes, dont hesitate to comment.

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