ask chris black

Ask Chris Black: ‘I’m Tired of Boat Shoes. How Should I Upgrade?’

Photo: Adam Wray

Chris Black has returned to the Strategist with a monthly column to answer all of your burning questions — from super-specific style predicaments and workout and tennis recs to foolproof host-gift ideas that will get you invited back to the beach house.

My husband wants to upgrade from boat shoes for summer casual. What’s a good option?

The boat shoe might be making a comeback. I actually wear an all-black pair from The Row pretty often. But if hubby wants a change, I am here to help! We can keep things in a similar vein but throw in a few wild cards just in case.

He is obviously quite familiar with the boat shoe, but let me introduce you to the canoe shoe. Maine-based Quoddy sews each shoe by hand in a traditional moccasin construction. They slip on easily and mold to your foot over time. The brown pebble leather with the Vibram sole is my favorite.

This suede version of the penny loafer is unlined, making it much more comfortable than the traditional leather version. They are also super breathable for the summer and can be paired with shorts or a suit, depending on the occasion.

The Stan Smith is a classic, and this version is made to the original specs out of much more premium materials. They are authentic and easy, like Common Projects, but not corny and expensive.

It’s been a few years — any updates to your Ivy Sport look for summer?

Ivy Sport is a look birthed on the idea that at any moment, you can start a jog or hit the tennis court with a quick footwear change. Preppy but not stuffy. You don’t want to look Equinox-ready. The key elements can shift depending on the weather and your mood. Let’s look at some easy additions to the classic lineup that will work in most summer settings.

Sometimes, the more athletic-leaning short feels inappropriate. These five-inch pleated shorts from the master Ralph Lauren could work in any warm-weather situation. They are made with a simple cotton chino and come in navy or khaki, depending on how traditional you want to go.

I am a known polo wearer. My default is the well-priced Uniqlo two-button. But the long-sleeve polo is underrated. The originators at Lacoste do it well, especially in this shade of green. It works with shorts or pants, and if the temps rise, pushing up the sleeves looks just as cool.

This is the perfect year-round cotton sweater. You can throw it over your shoulders when dining outside on a cooler summer night or wear it if the breeze picks up. Just keep it in your carry-on. The navy goes with everything.

Doek has been making shoes in Japan for 140 years. This oxford is more substantial than a classic pair of Vans and comes in this perfect Ecru shade that will age well over time. Worth a little extra money. I could hit a few forehands in these if I had to.

A high-end wedding gift for the creative couple with no registry?

I am leaving this week for a wedding in Italy and the couple in question hasn’t provided a registry, so this one hits close to home. I like to lean into something useful but luxurious, something they will have for a lifetime. An envelope of cash works, but we can do better.

Using this thing properly will take a little time, but giving the gift of espresso to the newlyweds seems like a no-brainer. It looks amazing on the counter, and if they are true coffee drinkers, they will use this every day and think of you. Imagine waking up to a double-shot almond-milk latte in bed; that’s true love.

A high-end throw for the couch is something that everyone wants but rarely buys for themselves, making it the perfect gift. This mohair version in a Le Corbusier–inspired blue, by the Copenhagen kings Tekla, will keep you cozy and bring a little personality to the living room.

If the couple in question likes to partake in a celebratory glass of Champagne on special occasions, this set of flutes from Baccarat will be the perfect gift. Sleek, sophisticated, and handcrafted, I can hear the cork popping now!

This print from New York–based artist Dike Blair would look great in anyone’s home. The photorealistic drawing depicts a couple of hot dogs and a can of Coca-Cola, a little slice of Americana. As a gift, it feels special and well considered.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Ask Chris Black: ‘I’m Tired of Boat Shoes. Any Upgrades?’