Living in Color Print is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Best Boat Shoe Alternatives for Women

The boat shoe became a staple of casual coolness in style for both men and women, especially in the 1980s through the early 1990s, and after a hiatus, again in the 2007 – 2010s. They are still popular today, but more so in some areas of the U.S., especially during the summer. They were also a hit for casual wear with ladies. But what about those looking for another fashionable, yet practical style, that works well as boat shoe alternatives for women?

About Boat Shoes

Invented by Paul Sperry in 1935, the original Sperry boat shoe was all about keeping sailors safe while they were negotiating slippery boat decks. Their function soon evolved to become the height of preppy fashion. Coveted as the go-to style for both men and women, the boat shoe was focused on summer wear, specifically to be worn sockless with shorts, jeans, khakis, and even bathing suits. Even today, the boat shoe is the “it” shoe for the summer beach and yacht scene, especially in the Northeast of the United States.

Boat Shoes Alternatives

Is the Boat Shoe for You?

If you aren’t sure whether the boat shoe is for you, take a look at the following prompts to help you decide.

  1. You can’t stand the thought of parting with your boat shoes.
  2. All your friends and acquaintances wear boat shoes, and you want to be sure to keep fitting in.
  3. You yearn for a new style and look for a comfortable shoe.

So, what do you think? If you don’t agree with numbers 1 and 2, and you do agree with number 3, then it’s time to check out boat shoe alternatives for women.

The good news is that there are myriad boat shoe alternatives for women that compete in style, comfort, and trend-breaking fashion. These alternatives can:

  • Up the ante in terms of more formal dressing outfits and occasions.
  • Compete in comfort.
  • Give the support and safety you want and need in a shoe.

Boat Shoe Alternatives for Women

The range of styles and fashion in boat shoe alternatives is like walking into a candy store filled with colorful, tasty treats. The following are some of the more delectable treats in boat shoe alternatives for women.


Loafers are a hot commodity, and so hot that it is hard to find them. Within the genre are lots of options, including the following:

Loafers, an alternative to boat shoes

Suede Loafer

Suede loafers are a wonderfully adaptable addition to any women’s wardrobe. They rise several notches up from a sneaker and several notches down from a boot. They can be dressed up or down, and they mold comfortably to your feet, especially those that are made in Italy. Popular now, it may be difficult to find the exact pair you want to add to your closet, but some great options include the following:

Penny Loafer

The shelves are emptying like wildfire as women covet the classic, ageless penny loafer. Made of various types and colors of leather and vegan materials, the penny loafer is known for its “Ivy League” look, yet, it can be a valid fashion item for everything from the most casual, sockless occasions, to a more casual-formal look with skirts, and as is today’s fashion statement with the loafer, with a pair of white ankle socks. The most famous originator of the penny loafer is the G.H. Bass Company and their Weejun line of loafers.

Another option in the penny loafer category is the lug sole loafer. This shoe features thicker, rubber soles that give the shoe a “chunky” look. The rubber gives it more stability than the smooth sole typical of the classic penny loafer.

Other penny loafer choices include:

White Sneakers

White sneakers are a great alternative to boat shoes
White Sneakers can be a great alternative to boat shoes

What is more crisp and clean-looking than a pair of white sneakers? Whether worn on the tennis court or as a funky formal fashion statement, this wardrobe staple can go anywhere at any time and offers a classic boat shoe alternative for women. You can bet that the white sneaker will never go out of style. Plus, it gives you the benefits of comfort, versatility, and security you need in a shoe. White sneakers come in a huge variety of prices and even styles. A few white sneaker options are as follows:


When looking for the ultimate in style, comfort, and versatility, the espadrille will find its way to the top of the list. Ranging from completely vegan to leather, most often, these shoes are made with firm gripping rubber soles, which makes this shoe an excellent boat shoe alternative for women. The upper part of these shoes is most often made with canvas, felt, or recycled cotton, and they come in a dizzying array of colors and prints. Most are trimmed with braided jute, which adds to their unique style.

The espadrille is mostly a casual shoe, but depending on color and style, it can be dressed up to wear for any occasion. And it is definitely worn more often in the summer. Style it with shorts, jeans, capris, dresses, or skirts for fun or glamour, or business casual.

One of the more popular espadrille makers is Toms, a company that grew exponentially thanks to its version of the espadrille, the alpargata. The alpargata comes in countless styles and colors, ranging from solid colors to fanciful holiday and cartoon themes.

A few possibilities in the espadrille style include the following.

Ballerina Flats

Super comfy and appropriate for dress-up, dress-down, and everything in between is the ballerina flat. In fact, some have even compared the sleek fashion favorite as the white sneaker positioned up a few notches. Perfect for the office, errands, or even bike riding, the ballerina flat ranges in style from the strapped Mary Jane to purely flat patent leather and pointed-toe versions. There are even ballerina flats that fold up so you can easily toss them in a tote or large bag.

When choosing a ballerina flat as a boat shoe alternative for women, it’s critical that you pay attention to the sole of the shoe. Smooth surface soles made of leather or other material will not give you the traction of those with rubber soles.

A few ballerina flat options include the following:


In addition to its alpargata shoe, Toms also offers other styles that work well as boat shoe alternatives for women. Toms shoes are known for their outstanding quality and comfort as well as up-to-date style. They have a variety of flats and sneakers in their lineup, as well as slip-ons. A new Toms shoe for women is the Fenix Unity, which is a slip-on with a special, padded insole and rubber outer sole. This rubber sole makes it an easy-to-put-on shoe, safe for the boat deck.


Vans shoes are another line of funky yet practical and comfy shoes. With an original appeal to the skater contingency of the world, the line grew to appeal to boaters and even celebrities and musicians who relished their style and comfort. Their uppers are made from a variety of materials ranging from suede and leather to canvas. The outer soles are made of good-quality rubber that provides a solid grip on wet and other surfaces. The style options are mainly slip-ons and sneakers.


Skechers are some of the most popular and reasonably priced shoes in the United States. Their popularity arises from their comfort and the support they offer to the wearer. Their memory-foam inner sole molds to the foot and creates a comfortable walking cushion like no other. They come in styles ranging from clogs to sneakers to slip-ons, and all are great boat shoe alternatives for women.

Skechers Official Video: Slip-Ins!

To me, Skechers Slip-ins are the ultimate boat shoe replacement. Comfort, price, style, and a new level of convenience. Check out this short video and you will see what I mean!

Skechers Slip-ins are the next level in convenience – check out this video!
Jenna Reign
Latest posts by Jenna Reign (see all)