Months ago, I wrote about an adventure sandal known as the Chaco. As a piece of footwear, the Chaco has never disappointed me. I’ve worn it eating in fancy restaurants, hiking in the mountains, trudging through deserts, striding on the bottom of the ocean, and creeping through strangers’ bedrooms. With each new task, the sandal proved itself and revealed astonishing layers of durability as well as a gentility unknown to most footwear.
Allow me to now introduce the Sperry, my other pair of shoes. A mainstay of New England preps in the North and sorority sisses and fraternity bros in the South, the Sperry is a boat shoe. Placed on the feet, it goes well with white pants, pearl earrings, and brightly colored popped collars. As a piece of footwear, it has the laid back attitude of an undergrad at Ole Miss who will never fear unemployment because he attends class in a building named after his family.
Unfortunately, I don’t look for such a laissez faire attitude in my foowear, which is why the Sperry sucks.Unlike my faithful, industrious Chaco, I often find my Sperry lacking. According to Sperry Top-Sider Shoes’ website, the first Sperry boat shoe was invented after Paul Sperry looked at his dog’s paw after watching him run on ice. While gazing at Prince’s paw, Paul was taken by the grooves that allowed his collie companion to sprint without fear of falling down. Shortly after this mystical experience, he used a penknife to carve lines in a shoe so sailors could walk as fearlessly as Prince.
Thus the Sperry Top-Sider was invented as a boat shoe, a shoe with purpose and function. This noble and well intended beginning stands in sharp contrast to the pitiful depths to which the shoe has now fallen. My complaints against the shoe are numerous, but allow me to begin with the ridiculous leather shoelaces that function as laces only slightly better than Twizzlers. Any shoelace with this many edges and in the shape of a long skinny cube is clearly flawed. I am constantly forced to re-tie the shoe, exposing myself and my rear end to God knows what dangers.
Furthermore, though the shoe is advertised as a boat shoe, the sorry examples of footwear currently adorning my feet nearly dissolve in water. Even after waterproofing them, their performance was mediocre at best and nauseating at worst. Have you ever slogged around a city for hours dreaming only of a warm, crackling fireplace to throw your shoes into while shouting profanities?
Last of all, the Sperry Top-Sider is not a durable shoe. After a year of solid wear, the soles are almost completely worn through and the leather is so soft it could be thrown in a crockpot and turned into a toothsome winter stew. I do enjoy a good stew, but that is not why I bought the Sperry. I bought it to wear on my feet.
Right about now, I’m wondering: why do I even bother buying these shoes if I hate them so much? Unfortunately this is a question that will have to wait for another time. Let me say, for now, that my own stupidity and stubbornness compels me to wear these travesties year after year.
Some people once said inspirational things that when combined sound kind of like this: “be the change in the world because it begins in yourself today.” That may be true, but I can still put off buying different shoes until tomorrow.
Nota Bene: The company does make “performance” shoes, but if you’re marketing yourself as a boat shoe company and the shoe handles water more poorly than a scrap of paper towel, are you really any better than a common criminal?
Sperry Top-Siders are a lie? This blog is a lie! Boat shoes are the best!
Cannot agree with this at all. You said you waterproofed them, but how well did you take care of them?
If you’re going to use them in water that much, you need to be cleaning them and prepping them regularly. I now own four pairs, and my oldest pair is three years. I might need to have them resoled in the next two or three years, but the leather is in great condition. The others are barely even worn down on the soles yet.
May I suggest my own post on this topic? http://www.kyotomaiko.com/2011/08/proper-care-and-feeding-of-boat-shoe.html
I definitely didn’t treat them very well and I’ll certainly take a look at your blog post. I think one of the bigger issues is the fact I tend to wear them every day and not give them a rest….the soles wear down pretty fast.
Well, blimey, my Sperrys were absolutely fabulous and I miss them even now, probably twenty year later. They were a bright limeish green and I bought them at a time in my life when I was sailboat dreaming. Instead of owning my own boat I was forced to date a dark, short balding youngish man who had a nice big, you guessed it, sailboat! Unfortunately for him and fortunately for me he was pretty much unable to go sailing on his own so I was usually recruited as the “crew”. Let me back up a bit – perhaps “dating” is too strong a word, but it was sort of boat dating without all the kissing and other sloppy things that happen between dating people. Okay, back to the shoes. Those Sperrys were spectacular. I could walk all around the boat without fear of falling overboard and when there were a lot of other people onboard and we threw our shoes off into a pile I could always pick mine out of the mass of leather because mine were lime greenish! The shoelaces were an obstacle but once you got your brain wrapped around macrame you could knot those laces so they never came undone. Those shoes formed to my feet, never fell apart (not like the newbies) and, sad to say, ended they days in a corner of my closet covered in dust bunnies. Still, I think of them often and I automatically keep my eyes peeled while shoe shopping for another colorful pair of Sperrys.
I would probably like mine more if they were green…I love green. Unfortunately as we speak there is a hole in the side of my Sperry’s, and it’s only going to get bigger.
Honestly I wasn’t convinced after reading you’re freshly pressed ‘the best blog post out there’ or something, but now I am… you’ve disgraced sperry and that is quite amicable to the blog format… among other adjectives quite classic indeed…
Blogs are quite useful for slandering prep shoes, a revolutionary social tool some might say.
Ah, you make me laugh with your shoe description – no mincing of words there. Once your final pair of Sperry’s die may I suggest a friendly pair of Earth Spirit shoes. They are like little leather hugs for your feet and come in many styles.
the day they die will be a sweet day. Thanks for the recommendation! I love a good foot hug.
Great writing! I never owned a pair of Topsiders, though I lusted after them in my youth. Gotta love those Chacos. Merrill also produces good-looking as well as functional shoes.
I have looked into Merrills before I think. When I buy my next pair of shoes, I’m going to treat them like an investment since I know they’ll last longer and look and feel better. That’s what growing up is all about.
“As a piece of footwear, it has the laid back attitude of an undergrad at Ole Miss who will never fear unemployment because he attends class in a building named after his family.”
Brilliant! You sound like you spent some time there. Also, I don’t know if you’re taking suggestions, but I would recommend Minnetonkas. They’re in the loafer family and mine have held up quite well over the years.
I have spent a little time in the South and knew some people from Ole Miss…Good ol ole miss.
Any and all suggestions are much appreciated and I do very much like the look of these Minnetonkas. Durability is key because I hate shopping for shoes. I also assume they can be waterproofed, which is certainly a plus.
I’ll stick with my Bass boat shoes, thanks.
If they are, in fact, shoes, then they’re definitely better than the crap I’m wearing. Keep with it.
I think perhaps Sperry’s are outdated: like, back in the day when people didn’t know about fabric laces that (gasp) stay tied, or water-resistant materials, these were the boss dog. However, now we have the North Face making waterproof vibram soled shoes that you can take from an outbreak of cat burglary to the fancy restaurant of your choosing, so Sperry’s are more a nostalgia kick I think. Don’t buy them any more!! 🙂
This is hopefully my last pair of sperry’s. As soon as the soles wear down and gigantic holes form in the sides, I’m moving on to bigger and better and more waterproof things.
I cannot, shall not, and will not live in the past any longer.