Lost Youth: Penny Loafers & The Middle-Aged Trad Dad

Stumbled upon in a random Google search. On the left is a middle-aged trad dad; on the right is his high school-aged son. Their exchange goes something like this:

Dad: Don’t wear down the heels of your loafers!

Son: I don’t care. See you later.

Dad: American students always give their shoes a good shine…

Son: Dad, do you still wish you were a student?

35 Comments on "Lost Youth: Penny Loafers & The Middle-Aged Trad Dad"

  1. I still have my six pairs of American-made Bass Weejuns, all in perfect condition. Three penny loafers each in black, burgundy, and brown. Three tassel loafers each in the same colors. Also, some Cole-Haan strap penny’s in black and burgundy as well. Love em always!

  2. Michael Mattis | February 28, 2012 at 11:05 am |

    I love the Japanese slippers with the argyle socks.

  3. Would the Japanese father really be wearing his shoes indoors?

  4. The cartoon depicts an entryway into a Japanese house or apartment. As with most Japanese houses and apartments, this entryway is where you enter while 1) wearing your shoes, but 2) before you step up into the room itself. It is in this area that you take off your shoes and leave them off to the side, ready for when you leave. In the instant cartoon, the apartment “proper” is depicted by the wood floor, and the entryway is shown as the brown surface that both characters are standing on.

    Therefore, yes, the Japanese father really would have his shoes on. He is standing in the entryway, not the apartment itself.

  5. Actually, the dialogue goes something like this:

    Son: “Dad, act your age. Do you wish you were still a student?”
    Father: “Don’t step on the heels of your shoes!”
    Son: “I’m not. Bye. (laughs sarcastically)”
    Father: “American students, they…”
    Father: “shine their Bass loafers like this…”

    Great find. Hope you share more!

  6. Very cool. You always post the best Japanese illustrations!

  7. Yeah, the slippers really make this illustration. Great find, Christian.

  8. Please look at the pants of the high school boy. He wears them loosely at his hip. This is also un-endurable for most Japanese middle age. Especially, for Ivy league lovers.

  9. Great cartoon! Thanks Christian!

  10. This cartoon is illustrated by Hiroshi WATANI.
    Very famous fashion illustrator in Japan-sorry, not sure “fashion illustrator” is correct English-.
    His works have been long appeared serially in the Japanese magazine “Begin”.
    His Gallery↓
    Begin ↓

  11. In case it’s not clear from either the cartoon or Henry’s translation, the son is squashing down the heels of his loafers to make them easier to put on and take off, like slippers.

  12. Really like the illustration. Seems like such a non conflict but has a real sense of pop moment in life that the wrist has caught well. Dad looks very young though.

  13. Please look at the boy’s right hand. He had a _furoshiki_, a traditional Japanese cloth wrapper. Nowadays, Japanese people do not use it except for the eldely or prosecutors. Therefore, the illustrator might want to convey some message by making the boy have the cloth wrapper . . . .

  14. I think the bag is a little small to be a furoshiki. I took it to be his bento (i.e., lunchbox) wrapped in a handkerchief.

  15. Nice analysis, Henry-san! I looked at it again carefully. It also seems to be a piece of bandana. If so, it is _ame-kaji_, American casual ;-).

  16. Boston Bean | March 3, 2012 at 10:18 am |

    İs anybody else out there fed up with Japanese İvy?

  17. Anonymous | March 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm |

    @Boston Bean

    Nope. Irrelevant to me. Like UK Ivy.
    Not fed up, just don’t really care about their American costume party.

  18. Another Anonymous | March 5, 2012 at 5:02 am |

    To those who know their Ivy the ‘costume party’ aspect can be detected globally. America included.

  19. Regimental Stripe | March 5, 2012 at 10:48 am |

    @Another Anonymous

    Unless we were born into a patrician New England family, we are dressing for a costume party.

  20. Anonymous | March 5, 2012 at 1:03 pm |

    @Another Anonymous

    Nope. You’re dead wrong.

    You’re making assumptions about others’ motivations. Millions of Americans wore these styles just because they were just the styles of the time. Many wore “Ivy styles” without even being aware they were labeled as such by others. No BS aspirations to be some New England elite.
    Just dressing like a common American, which they were.

    Even today, the contemporary American khaki/button-down/loafer ensemble is practically a national uniform. Obviously a direct style lineage from Ivy, without any aspirational theory behind it.

    I don’t have to make any assumptions about the motivations of UK/Japanese Ivy wearers. They are attempting to dress like Americans. End of story.

  21. Another Anonymous | March 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    @ Anonymous

    And when an American dresses in English style what then?
    I can certainly agree with you regarding Japan and the UK up to a point, however attempting to dress like an American and dressing in American style are two very different things. You are making assumptions about others’ motivations just as much as I was.
    Global followers of Italian tailoring never seem to encounter these discussions.

  22. Anonymous | March 5, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    @Another Anonymous

    If an American insists that all his clothing must say “Made in UK” on the label, and spends an inordinate amount of time studying historical photos of English fashions in order to emulate them as closely as possible….then I would say that yes, he would be trying to dress up like an English person.

    But just having a handful of items of clothing in your wardrobe made in a certain country doesn’t necessarily signify any motivation.

    I don’t think it’s a necessarily a bad thing to want to dress like an American, depending on the style of course. Just own up to it, as the saying goes.

  23. Another Anonymous | March 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

    @ Anonymous

    I think we are drawing closer to some sort of accord.
    My point is that to dress in American style (or Italian) is not to want to dress up like an American (or an Italian), but merely to indulge yourself in a tailoring style that you happen to like. I really do think that it is as simple as that. It’s about cut and cloth, not country all that much.

  24. Dutch Uncle | March 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm |


    Re: “Even today, the contemporary American khaki/button-down/loafer ensemble is practically a national uniform.”

    Not so, I’m afraid.

  25. @Dutch Uncle

    Obviously it was hyperbole. Obvious to me anyway.
    But variations on that ensemble have been ubiquitous in American cities nationwide for decades.

    Are there cowboys in Montana wearing that? Probably not.
    But I guarantee you’ll find people wearing it somewhere in Montana.

    Obviously, Montana was a purely random example.

  26. Re: “Even today, the contemporary American khaki/button-down/loafer ensemble is practically a national uniform. Obviously a direct style lineage from Ivy, without any aspirational theory behind it.”

    Because it is considered “safe”, which is hardly an aspiration. They are not affecting New England patrician style, but neither are they dressing in “Ivy Style”. They are just grabbing the shirts and pants closest to the register at Gap.

  27. Dutch Uncle | March 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm |


    I’m in Philly, not Montana, and I see almost nobody wearing khakis + an OCBD + loafers, unless they are conscious adherents to Ivy style.

    The ubiquitous uniform that I see is dungarees + tee-shirts + jogging shoes.

  28. @jiheison

    Did you fail reading comprehension?
    Your “rebuttal” merely confirms the ubiquity and not-necessarily-aspirational nature of these clothes,…which is exactly what I said. They are everywhere, and they mean nothing.

  29. @Dutch Uncle

    Complete bullshit.

    I’ve been all over this country, and I’ve seen people wearing this stuff everywhere. And I’m not hanging out in some elite outposts either.

    I mean, “Dockers” sells khakis in a hundred variations to millions of Americans every year. As do many many other brands and merchants. the shit is everywhere.

    Go to any city in America and see what “casual friday” usually means. It means lunch hour looks like herds of identical khaki-cladders migrating.

  30. Dutch Uncle | March 8, 2012 at 10:16 am |



    Most Americans dress like nursery school students or bums.

  31. @Anonymous What makes you think I was rebutting your statement?

    The only rebuttal I might add is that it isn’t even a “style”. Its just the a “business casual” uniform for those who want to think as little as possible about their attire.

  32. Johnny Reb | March 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm |

    Dutch Uncle: I agree with you for the most part but nursery school students dress much better than most Americans. Come to Piney Point or River Oaks in Houston. You’ll be startled by the standards of dress. There’s even three public schools in Texas that have very high standards for presenting themselves. I’ve never been to Philadelphia but you were probably in the pauper districts.

  33. Dutch Uncle | March 8, 2012 at 8:32 pm |

    @Johnny Reb

    I wouldn’t set foot in the pauper districts of Philadelphia–even in broad daylight; I value my life.

  34. @jiheison

    you have serious reading comprehension problems.

    this is what I originally said:
    “Even today, the contemporary American khaki/button-down/loafer ensemble is practically a national uniform. Obviously a direct style lineage from Ivy, without any aspirational theory behind it.”

    It IS a direct lineage from the Ivy style, despite the fact the the cuts may be slightly different. The fact that the average person wearing khakis/buttondowns/loafers may not be aware of that fact is exactly my point. Whether they bought it from the Gap, or are just wearing a corporate-mandated “casual friday” uniform is irrelevant. You continue to make my point for me while simultaneously imagining that you are saying something different.

  35. Woofboxer | March 9, 2012 at 5:49 am |


    Agree – if you leave aside the majority, who live in sportswear etc and consider the small proportion of adult males who actually ‘dress’, if they aren’t in a suit then the khaki/button-down/loafer ensemble would come out as the top choice.

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