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Perfect Summer With Clean And Neat Sperry Top-siders

© Africa Studio -

© Africa Studio -


  1. What are the Top-siders
  2. How to Clean Sperry Top-siders

Recently, Top-siders have become very popular. These shoes are somewhat similar to moccasins, but they have several distinctive features as originally they were geared for yacht owners.

What are the Top-siders

The Top-siders were invented by an avid sailor Paul Sperry in 1935. One day, walking with his spaniel, he noted that the dog can run on the ice without slipping due to the specific state of the paws. Then he decided to make grooves in the bottom of the Top-siders, so they do not slip when you go along the wet deck of the yacht and allow you to walk easily even at large angles of heel.

To produce new shoes, Paul founded the company Sperry Top-Sider. Though, there are other manufacturers of similar shoes now (the most famous of them are Sebago and Timberland), we know shoes for the yacht as the Top-siders, in honor of Paul Sperry. They are also called boat shoes or deck shoes.

© VRD -

So, how do the Top-siders look? In appearance, they are very similar to moccasins, but there are several important differences. The main feature of the deck shoes is a thick and flexible outsole with wavy grooves. Classis Topsiders have a light sole in order not to leave any traces on the deck of a yacht. But those Topsiders that are used as casual shoes can have a dark sole.

Top-siders can be made of leather, suede or thick fabric with water-repellent impregnation. They are laced up at the front, through four holes. In addition, along the heel grip, there is a lace that holds the foot. The quality of the lace is also very important.

Almost half a century, the Top-siders were used only for their intended purpose, but in the 1980s they became popular as casual shoes in America, Great Britain, Portugal, Argentina and France, and then in other countries. They became the attributes of casual and preppy styles. Now, you do not need to be a sailor to get a couple of Top-siders. They are more popular with men than women, but not exclusively men's shoes.

How should you wear your Top-siders? 

Remember the first and most important rule: these shoes are never worn with socks. Never, under no circumstances! Top-siders are summer, not demi-season shoes

You should wear them only in the warmer months and only on bare feet. Top-siders are made of a high quality soft skin that will not allow you to chaff your feet. In a pinch, you can put on very short socks that are held only on the heel and toes and completely invisible to anyone.

How to Clean Sperry Top-siders

Before you clean your favorite Top-siders, remove dirt, stones, the remnants of grass or soil from the sole with a soft brush.

Leather shoes

It’s very easy to clean leather Top-siders.

  1. You can clean them using special agents for shoes or just a soap solution.
  2. It’s very important to dry them properly: blot them with a paper towel and dry away from radiators, heaters or direct sunlight.
  3. To keep the pristine perfect form of your shoes, put a couple of paper towels inside. We do not recommend using newspaper as the ink can print on the shoes.
NOTE! Do not clean any high-quality genuine leather shoes with agents based on the silicone (for instance, any sponges impregnated with chemicals and cheap shoe care products). Natural leather "breathes", and silicone clog pores.

Canvas shoes

It’s easier to clean canvas Top-siders than any other shoes.

Manufacturers claim that you can wash them in the machine. However, there are a few rules:

  1. Remove laces and insole (if possible). It is better to wash them with soap and water separately.
  2. Use a gentle washing cycle.
  3. Wash at a minimum temperature, not more than 40 °.
  4. Turn off wringing and drying functions. Otherwise, you can deform your shoes.
  5. While washing, use special laundry wash bags.

Dry canvas shoes the same way as the leather ones.

Nubuck and Suede shoes

Suede and Nubuck designs require more careful approach.

You should clean Nubuck shoes only when they are completely dry.

In order to remove visible dirt and dust, use brushes geared right for the purpose. Many manufacturers produce special rubber brushes, which allow you to make cleaning sensitive and gentle. After proper cleaning the Nubuck, the shoes should be not only clean but also rough.

  1. Remove dirt from the heels and soles with a soft damp cloth.
  2. If there are white stains, remove them with a slightly wet porous sponge.
  3. In addition, you need an eraser or a rubber brush that removes greasy plaque and stubborn stains.
  4. Crepe brush is also useful. It will update the upper layer of the material and return the suede velvet touch.
  5. Clean along the nap to avoid damage and scratches.
  6. If there is a stubborn stain on your suede Sperry, try to remove it with steam.
  7. Direct the steam-jet on the spot at a distance of not less than 30 cm. After that, blot the top of the Top-siders with paper towels to remove excess moisture.

You can treat your suede and Nubuck Sperries with a special spray that protects the shoes and give them a fresh look. The key thing is not to forget about cleaning suede only when they are dry.

Follow these simple rules and your Sperry Top-siders will please you for a long time.

Author: Anna Wallace