This morning Ivy Style awoke to a tweet from Warren Bingham giving us a head’s up about a great article in the latest issue of Charlotte Magazine. Entitled “Penny Loafers And Alligator Belts” and written by Cole Waddell, it recounts his time in the early ’60s working in the university department at men’s store Tate-Brown.
Here’s a snippet:
The University department sold suits, blazers, sport coats, neckties, and the essentials for campus wear: Gold Cup socks, sweaters, London Fog outerwear, khaki pants, Gant button-down shirts, madras shirts, alligator belts, and, of course, Bass Weejuns penny loafers. This was many years before college males adopted blue jeans, T-shirts, baseball caps, and running shoes. Looking back at old issues of The Yackety Yack, the UNC yearbook, the men look neat and well-dressed, with their short hair and campus wear.
The style of dress was initially called Ivy League fashion, supposedly the preferred style at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. It would eventually be labeled “preppy.” Years later, ads for Polo Ralph Lauren evoke memories of those clothes.
At college, I wore penny loafers, until one day I saw a classmate from New York wearing a different type of loafer. His had a metal piece across the top. I didn’t know him well enough to ask about them, and it being the 1960s, I didn’t have a camera on a cell phone to sneak a picture of them. Without a photograph, I tried to describe the shoes as I asked around Charlotte. My inquiries were futile: People gave me strange looks and a few snarky suggestions. A few years later, I would learn that my school chum had good taste in shoes; he had been wearing the basic, classic Gucci horsebit loafer. Made in Italy. Sold in the Gucci store on Fifth Avenue in New York. I remember my delight when I obtained my first pair years later.
It’s a great read, so head over here to check it out. — CC