Looking to stand out on the docks? Dooney & Bourke has reimagined the classic boat shoe in some pretty wild colors.
When I first heard that Dooney & Bourke offered a line of boat shoes, I became suspicious. “They also make handbags,” said my girlfriend, after I told her I’d be testing a pair. Off went the alarms. Uh oh, said the fragile masculine voice inside my head, the same one that scoffs at romcoms and views salads as woefully inadequate meals.
When the shoes arrived in the office—a pair of the Regattas ($135) in not red, but “paprika”—I winced. (For both men and women, they come in seven colors, including black, orange and the more traditional brown, in case you’re not up for the sartorial challenge.) Were they stylish? Sure. Still, I wondered how comfortable they would be: The Italian leather felt rigid to the touch. And, just as important to this masculine boater were the little and not-so-little details: In addition to the firetruck red color, “Dooney & Bourke” was emblazoned on the cork-lined footbed for all the world to see.
As it turns out, a lot goes into each shoe. First launched in the early 1980s, company founder Peter Dooney’s classic boat shoe has been updated for this millenium with premium materials. Stainless steel eyelets come by way of Switzerland, leather uppers hail from Germany and the entire caboodle is assembled in Portugal. But the signature design comes from our own backyard: Dooney & Bourke is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut. While the materials are internationally sourced, the shoe’s style is all New England—preppy, sophisticated footwear inspired by Dooney’s love of the sea and sailing.
Rarely do I have to wonder if I can pull off, in a stylish manner, the gear I’m testing. (And if you’ve seen me in a Mustang Survival suit in the pages of this website (see video below), you know I look good in red.) But I’ll admit, these dapper shoes had me wondering if I could wear them around a boat show. So, that’s what I did: I packed them up and brought them with me to the Taiwan International Boat Show in March.
After walking the docks in Kaohsiung for hours, the leather never stopped feeling rigid. (Dooney & Bourke recommends ordering one half to one size larger than you would normally wear in sneakers.) Though it was too early to know for sure, I wondered if the leather would give over time into something softer, like the well-worn catcher’s mitt feeling my feet are so fond of. The robustness would be good in the long run for durability, but my Achilles had been taking a beating. Karma for all the times I made fun of my girlfriend suffering just to look good in high heels, perhaps?
The shoes’ optics, though, worked well: They were dressy when I needed them to be and punched up any outfit with some pizzaz. A sense of style and confidence sold separately, of course.