A Mainstay of the Preppy Wardrobe Was Invented in New Haven
Yesterday was the 83rd anniversary of the patenting of the Sperry Top-Sider Boat Shoe. Hey fellow preppies of Connecticut, did you know that a man from New Haven invented them?
I didn't attend an old private school in Connecticut, I'm a Holy Cross - Waterbury alumni, but my fashion choices have absolutely been influenced by the students of Taft, Hotchkiss, Kent, Salisbury, The Frederick Gunn School, and Choate. The preppy subculture was born here in the Northeast, educated at our prep schools, and then cemented into pop-culture via Yale and the Ivy League.
I bought my first pair of Sperry Top-Siders in high school in the mid-80's. The preppy look wasn't complete unless you had a pair of boat shoes on, and for some reason, a piece of leather tied around your ankle. Yeah, I did it, I needed those boat shoes to stop slipping on the banks of the Naugatuck River.
I was today years old when I found out that the Sperry in Sperry Top-Siders was Paul A. Sperry of New Haven, and he went to Taft in Watertown. Sperry invented the Top-Sider Boat Shoe out of frustration after he had fallen off the slippery deck of his boat into Long Island Sound. He took a closer look at his dog's paws, and designed a non-slip sole with the help of Converse. Sperry received a US Patent for his design on November 14, 1939. The very next year, Sperry sold his design to the United States Rubber Company, and his Sperry Top-Siders went global.