An old saying says “You can tell a gentleman by his shoes” and it has been stuck in my head ever since I first heard it. As much as it might not be right, I feel there is a slight of truth to the words. Having an eye for details such as your shoes, shows a gentleman’s ability to take care of the things he loves. Wearing a well polished pair of shoes can make a great first impression, whether that be professionally or personally. Whilst a sloppy shoe may give the impression that you have come unprepared and do not think highly of yourself nor the person you are meeting.
Two classic pairs of shoes that I have always found essential for any gentleman is a quality pair of Oxfords and an elegant pair of loafers. These two styles will have you covered for practically all smart-casual occasions as well as professional dress codes.
The Oxford shoe
The Oxford, is a simple pair of shoes which is mostly considered as a formal style choice. It is named after the University of Oxford and characterised by it’s shoelace eyelets that are attached under the vamp, a feature termed “closed lacing”.
There are two main variations of the Oxford shoe; The Classic Oxford which is a basic style without perforations (as seen on the left image above) and The Brogue which is defined by it’s perforations (seen on the right image above).
The Loafer, also called “the slip-on”, is the epitome of “the lazy shoe”. Having no laces, there is no need to bend over or to use a shoe horn to put one the shoe, before walking out of the door in the morning. There are numerous different types of loafers. My two personal favourites are The Penny Loafer and The Tassel Loafer.
The Penny Loafer, as we know it today, was first introduced by shoe company G.H.Bass in 1936. Their design included a distinctive strip of leather (the saddle) of the shoe with a diamond-shaped cut-out. Their version of the loafer was named Weejuns (to sound like Norwegians – a nod to the Norwegian roots of the shoe). Weejuns became very popular in America, especially among the students at The Ivy League Collage in the 1950s, who coined the term Penny Loafer. A legend says that, in the 1930s, two pennies were sufficient to make an emergency telephone call. Regardless, the name stuck, and the G.H.Bass penny loafer has achieved the status of a classic.
The Tassel Loafer says to originate from after the end of the World War II. While in Europe, an American actor named Paul Lukas acquired a pair of oxfords with little tassels at the end of the laces. When he returned to America, he took them to several shoemakers and asked them to make something similar. Not satisfied, Paul Lukas kept trying to find a shoemaker that could meet his demand. The request made it’s way to the Alden Shoe Company. The then President of Alden, Arthur Tarlow Sr., Came up with a slip-on pattern keeping the leather lace and tassel as a decoration. The Alden Shoe Co., realizing the potential of the shoe, continued to experiment with the design, finally launching it in 1950. The Tassel Loafer, as it became to be called, was a success, and was especially in popular among bankers and lawyers in the late 90’s/early 00’s.
Yours sincerely, Mathias le Fèvre