Much like a certain song or scent can transport us to another time and place, clothing and accessories evoke nostalgia as well. Two of our favorite shoes — the boat shoe and suede buck — share this ability. They remind us of days by the sea, walking through the quad between classes or tearing it up on the dance floor at a summer wedding. No matter the association, these casual favorites have a place in our wardrobe past and present.

Ever since Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor, sported a white pair on his tour of the East Coast in the early twentieth century, the suede buck has become one of the most recognizable icons of mid-century American style. Universally beloved, a pair of scuffed and dirty-white bucks were prized as a symbol of teenage rebellion, while keeping these shoes pristine projected a squeaky-clean image. They’ve remained a key piece of the preppy aesthetic, staying relatively unchanged from the version popularized nearly a century ago. Sometimes referred to as the “third shoe” — not quite casual, not quite formal — they’re still prized for their versatility and comfort today. Wear a clean pair with a suit to stand out from the crowd, or give your sneakers a rest and toss them on with jeans, a button-front shirt or a polo for a smart-casual look.

Remaining on the relaxed end of the spectrum is the boat shoe, which has evolved from its 1930s introduction into iconic, all-purpose summer footwear for men, women and kids alike. Born from the need for a shoe that could grip a wet ship deck, this style has a genuine leather upper that ensures it will age with a rich patina and, over time, conform its shape to the wearer’s foot. Rawhide laces and non-marking white soles supply nautical accents and complete the signature look. Socks are optional, but if you must wear them, we recommend low-cut socks to avoid teetering the tragic “shoobie” line. Beyond that, it’s a look that’s difficult to mess up.

 

To see our versions of these timeless shoes and to add them to your collection, head here for our suede bucks and here for our selection of boat shoes.