Shoe Fetish Page 2

Spectator - November 2002 - Part 2

Spectator — November 2002

By Tom Fexas

Shoe Fetish
Part 2: Corporate Dips, A Shoes for All Occasions
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Over the years I have tried Sebagos, Rockports, Timberlands, and Sperry Topsiders. About ten years ago I even had two pairs of those hideous "lizard-skin" boat shoes, but I never had the chest toupee or gold chains to complete the "look." These days I prefer Sperry Topsiders in neutral colors, but that can change.

I don't wear them for economy reasons--boat shoes can cost more than 100 bucks. However, they will last for two or three years. Aside from their great grip on deck, boat shoes have many advantages. They are great for driving, the next best thing to those funny Italian driving shoes with the little rubber dots on their soles. They can be completely soaked and, after they dry, look better then they did before. They look right with or without socks (try wearing a pair of clunky wingtips without socks). When I am in my boat shoes, I feel secure and cat-quick. In leather soles, I feel like I am walking on ice.

After three years of sailing, I decided it was time to go ashore and get a real job. I went to work as a design engineer at the Electric Boat Company in Groton, Connecticut. After a few days on the job, I could immediately discern among the new recruits the guys who were going to get ahead in the corporate defense business. These were the guys who came to work wearing pressed slacks with a sportcoat or a suit with, of course, leather-soled loafers or lace-up dress shoes. As hard as I tried, I simply could not conform and become a corporate dip. I came to work wearing khaki pants, a sportshirt, and yes, boat shoes. Despite the nonconformist appearance, I did well there. But after staying too long, I decided it was time to break away and start my own business, a business where boat shoes were, thankfully, the norm.

I usually maintain three pairs of boat shoes in different stages of dilapidation (I call them the "good, bad, and double ugly") in three separate locations--my three "homes," you might say. There are three pairs at my residence in South Florida, three pairs at my mom's house on Long Island, and three pairs on my boat.

The "good shoes" are my everyday shoes, which I wear to work and on formal occasions such as weddings, bar mitzvahs, award presentations, etc. I like to maintain at least two pairs of these. My "bad shoes" are shoes that were previously "good shoes" but are a bit long in the tooth. This pair has the laces removed or very loosely tied so I can easily slip into and out of them for quick trips outside. My "double uglies" were formerly "bad shoes" now relegated to the bottom of the heap. These are grungy, amorphous balls of leather with well-rounded heels used for dirty work in the bilges, the basement, or in the shop. Sometimes the sole becomes separated from the shoe at the toe, forming big, gaping "mouths" which are great for scaring away mad dogs. They have been soaked with water and oil, crushed, painted on, peed on, bled on, heaved on, cut, slashed, drilled, and generally spindled and mutilated. The more these shoes are abused, the better they get. These "uglies" have real character, and I am loath to ever throw them out. Hell, I have a closetful of double-ugly shoes.

If guys like Crazy Adolph or Saddam Insane wore boat shoes, the world might be a better place.  

Tom Fexas is a marine engineer and designer of powerboats. His Web site is

Next page > Shoes, Part 1 > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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