Saddle Shoes And Kilties, 1941

saddle shoes and kilties2

What do saddle shoes and kilties have in common? They’re both featured in the Laurence Fellows-penned image above from the Esquire archives, and they’re both not on my Christmas list.

Regular readers will know my aversion to both footwear atrocities. But then again I dig bit loafers. De gustibus, et cetera, et cetera.

Below is the text that ran with the illustration. — CC

The Yales, Princetons, Harvards and others of their ilk have a way of formenting new fashions with startling regularity. So, while the campus fashion news is still sizzling, we’ll serve it up to you piping hot: khaki color hat, in low crushed model with lighter-shade stiched felt on brim, wows them at New Haven… Striped Shetland jackets loom as heir apparent to plaids… Fringed tongue shoes bespeak the country trend… Crochet-knit silk tie is runner-up to the favored foulard. Staple good taste and still A-plus rating: covert slacks, saddle strap shoes, striped oxford shirt with buttondown collar, gabardine suit. This particular gabardine suit, however, deserves a headline all by itself. Its Colonial tan is one of the smartest of the new shades and, putting it well toward the head of the headline class, one of the newest of the smart shades.

26 Comments on "Saddle Shoes And Kilties, 1941"

  1. Those boys in the illustration are enjoying one of the many freedoms (the freedom to button one’s jacket any way that one wants to button it) that all men had before the internet was invented and a gaggle of silly twits (who probably didn’t wear a jacket and tie at school and whose fathers and grandfathers probably didn’t wear a jacket and tie at work, in clubs, hotels, restaurants, or when traveling) made up all sorts of inane “rules”.

  2. Bags' Groove | December 19, 2015 at 3:56 pm |

    No, you’re wrong. Those of an independent mind will always have those freedoms, it’s just that so many feel the need, for whatever reason, to follow the “rules” dictated by the internet.
    Incidentally, just a word of response, to say you’d got it completely arse-about-face with the English Civil War, would have instantly got me off your case. Instead, I felt obliged to put the record straight, to which you still, incredulously, insisted upon keeping schtum. Why?

  3. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | December 19, 2015 at 4:34 pm |


    I too covet a pair of kiltie loafers (however, with a tassel). Where can I find a decent, well- (read: English-) made pair?

    I’m hoping you won’t say Bass or AE…


    Why don’t you go ahead and button the very top button of your dress shirt without wearing a tie? That would certainly make you look more “edgy” in your dissent.

  4. Operative word is NOT on my Christmas list.

  5. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | December 19, 2015 at 6:46 pm |

    Aha. I see. Pity.

    I guess I’m just going to have to go on this adventure without you.

  6. It’s an adventure that can only end in footwear tragedy.

    Speaking of rules, isn’t there a declaration somewhere in the OPH or Fussell’s “Class” that kilties just aren’t prep/correct/our kind, dear?

    I’ve been in New York six years now and I’ve never seen kilties on any menswear connoisseurs or Upper Easty types.

  7. CC: You won’t see them with cleats anymore either!

  8. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | December 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm |


    There is a reason I don’t own a pair today. Or a pair of saddle shoes or a pair of white bucks. The reason for my particular fixation on kilites is that I saw a gentleman a few years back really pull them off; simply with a pair of khaki shorts and a tucked in navy polo. This was a few years ago at school. I have to say, the look left an impression on me…

    An impression that was a fixity… but now is changing from your subtle but rather effective method of dissuasion.

    And I haven’t seen them around either, I thought; why is that? Does the rule book you speak of say “thou shalt wearest mocs with a penny but not mocs with a kiltie/tassel?”

  9. The rule book implied that a man who wears kilties with tassels is likely to wear belts with braces.

  10. In the English Civil War, the Cavaliers finally prevailed, the Protectorate ended, Cromwell was dug up and executed (to make sure that he was really dead), the monarchy was restored, and Charles II became King. The Cavaliers won and UK is still a monarchy, not a Commonwealth with a Lord Protector.

    As to how one decides to wear one’s clothes, clothes are private property and one has the right to wear them as one pleases, unless one is wearing a uniform and has sworn to obey regulations related to the uniform.

  11. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | December 19, 2015 at 9:40 pm |

    I would like to say I agree 100% with Roycru! Clothes ARE private property… and “one has the right to wear them as one pleases!”

    Case in point: Mr. Vermin Supreme –

    F**k rules… and “F**k Ivy!”

    Wait… what?

  12. Encouraging people to sift through the whole of the genre and find their own style is what I always encourage, but I seem to feel vastly outnumbered by those who want to wear the same ol’ basics as social badges of their membership in the trad club.

  13. Bags' Groove | December 20, 2015 at 3:45 am |

    “The Cavaliers finally prevailed”, but meantime they’d lost the Civil War and the King had lost his head. Who do you think you are that you can “rewrite” English History? Good grief, you’re impossible.

  14. Grey Flannels | December 20, 2015 at 9:43 am |


    Re: “…those who want to wear the same ol’ basics as social badges of their membership in the trad club.”

    Some of us want to wear the same ol’ basics, not as social badges of membership in the trad club, but because we believe in the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  15. Say, C, fashion kilties as a footwear statement can be had as independently as laces! With a variety of colors, materials, and craftsmanship, what’s not to like? Cool, huh?


    I’ll race ya!

  16. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | December 20, 2015 at 2:05 pm |

    Absolutely repulsive looking shoes…

  17. I’ve previously reported on attachable tassels:

  18. Kiltie tassel saddles…rockin’ the inner iconoclast. Where a button is presented, we must press-to-test. A boring world it is, otherwise, no?

  19. Most Trads are followers and do what they are told.

  20. I wouldn’t wear saddle shoes in black and white (or any shoes with white leather that don’t say Stan Smith on them). But lower contrast, brown on brown saddles are great.

  21. Henry Contestwinner | December 21, 2015 at 9:53 pm |

    I have a pair of 25-year-old kiltie tassel loafers that were made in Italy for Nordstrom (originally known for their shoes). They regularly garner compliments. I find tassel loafers sans kilties to be bland. De gustibus, indeed!

  22. I’ve got a pair of 1980 Cole Haan buckled full strap kilted waxed leather loafers, love them, made in Maine and indestructible. Also a pair of RL kilted suede long wings with lug soles, the kilts like golf shoes are removable.

    The article reminds me of a time when the British tan gabardine suit was a staple in one’s wardrobe.

  23. I still have two pairs of saddles – black and white and brown and white – that I bought in Princeton, NJ over 25 years ago. Each have been completely rebuilt in the Alden factory and are true classics. While it takes some guts to wear them, it is surprising how many positive comments I get.

  24. If you don’t like gay marriage, don’t marry a gay. If you don’t like kiltie tassel loafers don’t wear them. But don’t try to stop others from doing it because of your bias.

  25. elder prep | March 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm |

    Alden ‘stole’ my post on the unfortunate visual clash of black/white (navy/white?) saddles as shown in the ad. My Bass tan/brown saddles would have been a fine accompaniment to the look.

  26. elder prep | March 12, 2019 at 1:41 pm |

    On the question of kilties/tassels, OPH has the following to suggest: See P. 139 “Men’s Shoes” 1. Weejuns. Either penny or tassel variety-both are acceptable.”

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