It’s already time to dip into the Esquire archives again. This one was spotted by Marc Chevalier, walking menswear encyclopedia and member of Ivy Style’s Facebook group.
The ad above dates to August 1936, less than one year after Esquire had helped introduce the Bass Weejun to the nation. Two months later, there was this one:
And by December of 1936, a knock-off competitor was already advertising in Esquire, complete with Viking imagery:
For an excellent (if not the best) story of the Weejun’s origins, check out Christopher Sharp’s article “From Peasantry To Palm Beach: The Story Of The Bass Weejun.” — CC
Teenagers of every era express their unique individuality by dressing like everyone else.
In my high school circa 1965-67 that meant virtually everyone – boys and girls alike – wore (mostly brown) Weejuns. After class-wide events in the gym – where hard soled shoes were banned to protect the floors – I recall there being a pile of about 600 virtually identical Weejuns in the hallway where we left our shoes.
Somehow – like the mother penguins in nature documentaries who find their little chicks among thousands of virtually identical chicks on some remote beach – everyone was able to find his/her Weejuns in just a few minutes…
My first pair cost $14.95 which adjusted for inflation is about $105 in current dollars.
Wait a minute. “Not shoes”?
Bought my first pair of Weejuns in 1962 for $25 I recall. I have a pair of NOS size 10 1/2 B Weejuns from 1972 never worn, still in the original wrapping paper in the original box. Purchased at the JL Hudson store in downtown Detroit when Hudson was closing down their once very traditional Men’s Department. Bought a double breasted camel hair coat at the same sale for less than $100! Still have that coat as well!
My mother forced me to wear them as a boy in the 80’s.
Guess I missed it. Black Converse low-tops and Bates Floaters (yes, they did — we tested them) it was for me and my crowd. And, now that they’ve outsourced, it’s just one of those many things that passed me by. Aldens and AE make a nice product, and Sebago for more casual wear…all USA. Weejuns must’ve been cool, though, in the day. Certainly they had a following by all accounts.
The myth around the Norwegian origin of weejuns deserves a comment. Here in Norway similar looking shoes called “Aurland sko” have never been used by so called poor peasants. On the contrary – the Aurland shoe is used by Norwegians when we wear our national costume “bunad” (a very formal dress that can replace white tie ensemble e.g. at royal banquets and other events that call for formal wear). But when Americans discovered the shoe in Norway back in the early midst of last century they modified it by removing the silver buckle and created what is known as the loafer or penny loafer. As in so many cases we should be thankful for American modification and invention. But in Norway, the traditional loafer with a silver or metal buckle, was an expensive shoe back in the old days. And it is not suitable for wear in a tough, cold and harsh climate. Most people wore boots or sturdy shoes year round in the late 1800’s and early twentieth century. Only the ones with money (and remember that Norway was, together with Ireland, the poorest country in Europe) could afford an Aurland shoe. I had to get this of my chest, or off my foot… That said – the American penny loafer is popular in modern Norway. We owe a grateful thought to the Americans who made them affordable and available in modern, wealthy Norway. CC, keep up the great work on Ivy Style. Greetings from the far northern corner of Europe where we only wear the original weejun at formal occasions, but the penny loafer all other days when we aren’t snowed down!
If you’re a stickler for originality get them here:
I think I need a little help with this one. Try as I may, I simply can’t decide which has become the biggest Ivy-Style fixation. Is it the BB OCBD, with its perfect collar roll and all? Or is it the Bass Weejun, the loafer that held fast one’s penny while making America great?
I know, it’s a difficult thing to decide. It’s probably a toss-up.
The old Weejuns were really comfortable and could be worn with anything. I have a picture from the early sixties — barely in my teens, I was wearing grey light-wool trousers, a bluish with burgundy colored Madras sport coat, and Weejuns.
I can’t make out the shirt and tie because of the angle, but it’s a good bet it was BB.
Bags’: I think the idea behind all this obsession/fixation/fetishism is that if we talk about things like Weejuns and collar roll enough, maybe manufacturers will take notice and they’ll become more available, and if they become more available then perhaps more affordable. I believe it’s already happened and will continue to happen, albeit in perhaps unexpected places.
Dear Alden, bring back the #5611.
Better than the Weejun.
The trick, S.E., is getting enough of your friends to buy them at full retail if they come out again…
That is a good thought about getting people to bring things back. However, I think a more realistic view is to introduce young people (and even better young professionals) as well as those of us that enjoy this style to the companies that are still doing this so that they will keep doing it.
I don’t think that it will ever be affordable or more readily available that it is now. I have accepted that it will only become more rare and expensive.
*rarer and more expensive
@Oxford Cloth Button Down
Young people need look no further than Lands End for OCBDs, chinos, and loafers.
There are pockets of Ivy/Preppy/Trad everywhere. Probably especially the South and Mid-Atlantic. I’d like to include the Midwest and New England, but I can’t speak with any authority. If one allows for darts, shoulder padding, jeans, and Polar Fleece, then it’s safe to say it’s alive and well on most private schools and private liberal-arts college campuses. A lot of the purists, including more than a few Weejun wearers, probably suffer from a mild version of OCD. Which is no nig deal. Everyone I know who’s even slightly interesting is kinda-sorta obsessive about something. Why not be obsessive about the details of a particular style. God knows it’s cheaper than a lot of other hobbies. And you’ll look better.
*no ‘big’ deal, rather.
Philly Trad, Lands End was my go-to source for shirts for many years—until they shrank the collars to ridiculously tiny flaps that can’t frame a tie properly. I’m still waiting for the Mad Men skinny trend to blow over, but when it does, will Lands End still have the quality it did in, say 2006? Brooks Brothers’ current quality is, in the words of one Ivy Style commenter, “atrocious,” and their products overpriced. What does the future hold for Lands End, especially now that it is under new ownership? I can’t help but be pessimistic.
I was unaware how absurdly small Lands’ End collars have become. (I have a substantial supply of their old stock shirts).
Love wearing my sz 13 Burgundy Weejun penny loafers with white socks with the backs crushed down so they slip off while walking.Like to wear them with shiney pennies when I go to the Townhouse and Eagle in NYC Weejuns are so hot!