Skip to main content

Top-Siders

Top-Siders

Top-Siders, also known as boat shoes or deck shoes, are casual low-heeled shoes made out of leather or canvas with a special skid-resistant sole, usually made out of white rubber. The shoes became popular in the late 1940s, following the end of restrictions on the use of leather and rubber that were associated with World War II (193945). They were first popular with the "boating set," upper-class easterners who spent their leisure time sailing yachts that often had slippery decks and who needed the shoes' nonskid soles. The shoes were later associated with the preppy look of the 1950s, which was revived by designer Ralph Lauren (1939) in the 1980s.

The upscale image associated with the Top-Sider was not what was intended by their inventor, Paul Sperry (18941982). A devoted sailor, Sperry one day noticed that his cocker spaniel, Prince, had much better traction on a slippery boat deck than he did. Examining the dog's paws, Sperry observed a crisscrossing web of cracks and splits. Sperry began experimenting by making razor cuts in the surface of a slab of gum rubber that he used as a shoe sole. By 1935 he had created a herringbone (a weave that creates rows of parallel lines sloping in opposite directions) pattern of cuts that reduced slipping dramatically. He worked with the Converse Rubber Company, a tennis shoe manufacturer, to produce the soles and then mount them to a leather moccasin-style top to create the Sperry Top-Sider.

Sperry Top-Siders were soon widely imitated, with many manufacturers producing a variant boat shoe. In 2003 the original Sperry Top-Sider, called the Authentic Original, continued to be made exactly as the first version.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

"Top-Sider Creation." Sperry Top-Sider: Where Performance Counts. http://www.sperrytopsider.com/creation.asp (accessed on August 27, 2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Top-Siders." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Top-Siders." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 16, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/top-siders

"Top-Siders." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. . Retrieved November 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/top-siders

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.