Cue the sad Green Day music, it’s time to say goodbye to a loyal friend. Get the credit card ready Bro, it’s time to replace those boat shoes.
I know, I know. Boat shoes are awesome! Not only are they perfectly molded to your feet, but I’m sure they’re the only shoe in your line-up that you know how to dress up and dress down because you can wear them with almost anything. I’d say I’m sorry, but let’s be real – boating season has been over for at least two weeks even if you call it quits at the tail end of October. While I’m sure all of you still wearing your Sperry Topsiders are hardcore sailing enthusiasts, I haven’t seen anyone braving the treacherous waves of Lake Mendota in a while. I’ve given you more time than necessary.
With the cold weather finally rolling in, boat shoes will no longer be capable of giving you the warmth or the traction that is necessary for this late fall/early winter weather. Despite the thousands of amateurs out there breaking this rule, they are not supposed to be worn with socks at all and if you are one of the unfortunate souls that have been doing so, congrats on looking like Ferguson from “Clarissa Explains It All” in front of everyone. It’s time to switch over to some footwear that will keep your feet dry, warm and most importantly, looking fresh.
Fall Classic #4: The Chukka Boot. The Chukka boot is like the fall equivalent of the boat shoe. They’re weather appropriate and you can throw them with almost anything. Another thing to observe about this boot is the many style variations that are considered a Chukka. The boot can be styled anywhere from a high-top boat shoe to a high-top suede dress shoe. The various styles are like Katy Perry in one of those dumb wigs – they might look a little different from time to time, but they always look goooood.
It’s possible to make the Chukka work with just about any outfit, but you have to know how to match the shoe to your look. You wouldn’t a match a herringbone jacket with a silk shirt… Wait, sorry, forgot who I was talking to. You wouldn’t match a Packers jersey with a Vikings hat and in my eyes wearing Chukkas incorrectly is a crime of the same magnitude. For all of you who just can’t stand to be without a boat shoe, Sperry (sperrytopsider.com) makes a Chukka styled almost identically to their standard boat shoe, yet with tops that come over the ankles, cloth insulation and a bit more grip on the sole. These can be worn just like their summer version. Throw them on with some jeans or cords and head to class, or you can even dress them up with khakis and a button-down, but that’s their limit.
The rounded-toe variety is usually made of suede or calfskin. Clarks has this style available in suede for just under a C-note (clarks.com). They have a more distinguished look and are the better choice of the two to dress up. You can wear them casually too, but that means A-game casual. Strategic use of classics 1, 2 and/ or 3 is imperative because pairing these with a T-shirt or ratty jeans will make you look worse than Boise State’s field goal kicker.
While adding the Chukka to your shoe game will move your entire wardrobe up a level, I understand that you can’t wear boots everyday. On a campus this big, comfortable shoes are important, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice style. If you’re going to wear athletic shoes, follow this rule: If you see another guy wearing your shoes in the SERF, you probably shouldn’t be wearing them on the street.
Walking around campus, sometimes I feel like I should chase some of you just to demonstrate the proper use of your shoes. Take off the Asics trainers and introduce yourself to Sportswear. These shoes have the comfort of a trainer, but with a stylistic twist so you can pull them off with jeans. Brands like Nike Sportswear, Adidas Original, and Asics Onitsuka Tiger will help you stay comfy on campus without looking like you’re on your way back from the gym.
Whether you take my advice on the Chukkas or grab some new sneaks, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by putting the boat shoes in storage for a while. As an added bonus for providing me with one less person to cringe at on campus, keep your eyes peeled for unfashionable men in boat shoes wiping out on the first snowfall.
Carl Horton is a senior majoring in communication arts. Crying over the thought of giving up your Sperry Topsiders? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more winter fashion tips.