WSJ Dares American Men To Go Preppy And Wear Loafers


And you thought you’d look trendy wearing a foulard buttondown!

Alas according to a new Wall Street Journal feature, one of those moments of trads becoming accidentally trendy is falling fast upon us. The paper wastes no time getting to the punch. “The loafer, that 1980s preppy staple, has stepped back into the spotlight,” reads the first line. And that’s beneath a subhead that goes, “From penny loafers and tassels to leather, suede and velvet, men have lots of options, if they dare to try the preppy style.”

The article even includes a photo of Biff and Muffy gracing the cover of “The Official Preppy Handbook.” Perhaps I’m just too cynical in my predictions that WASP style is doomed to be trampled beneath the march of social justice.

Writes Ray A. Smith:

For men, the slip-on shoes are an easy style to wear: they are comfortable and versatile, and available at seemingly every price point. They are also an easy style to mock. Their long association with blue bloods and the Ivy League provides good fodder for social media ribbing of men who wear loafers, especially those who, like TV anchorman Matt Lauer, do so without socks.

And later:

At Brooks Brothers, “there has been an uptick in loafer sales as men’s clothing has gotten a more relaxed feeling,” says Lou Amendola, the clothier’s chief merchandising officer.

The article continues with references to this year’s 80th anniversary of the Bass Weejun, and some history on Alden tassel loafers. Head over here to read the full piece, and if it comes up gated, search the story on Google News, which should remove the paywall. — CC

66 Comments on "WSJ Dares American Men To Go Preppy And Wear Loafers"

  1. WASP style will never be completely stomped out, in my opinion, because it’s inherently American in all it’s facets. We just seem to be in highly unpatriotic, trendy times.

  2. Anyone weak enough to let sanctimonious SJWs dictate their style deserves to be trampled.

  3. Charlottesville | September 1, 2016 at 3:53 pm |

    I was surprised that several people in the article associated loafers with old guys (i.e., 40+). They always seem fairly informal and youthful to me, although that may be because I’m an old guy myself, and I live in a relatively “preppy” town. I’ll be interested to see if the younger set go for well-made classics (like Alden or AE pennies and tassels), rather than some of the clunkier versions one sometimes sees.

  4. That’s one of the great ironies in how trad clothes have been perceived since the fall of the heyday. Social change came so rapidly that things popularized by young men became associated with old men within just a few years.

  5. The Alden dress penny loafer brings back memories, but not the model 638 as seen above. My favorite was the much coveted model 329, designed by Harold’s clothing, 329 W. Boyd, Norman Oklahoma. From my experience the shoe was sold in every Ivy / Collegiate / Trad shop from Iowa to Texas west of the Mississippi.

    Alden of New England
    Oxblood Shell Cordovan Full Strap Penny Loafer
    Euro 280
    I cannot date this unusual Alden Shell Cordovan Full Strap Plain Front Penny Loafer. Certainly the model does not appear in Alden’s recent production and I have not seen such a model in at least 20 years of collecting. Perhaps made as a special order for the retailer, but in any case, a supremely elegant and sleek design, a wonderfully patinated item; the leather has turned the colour of much-polished antique mahogany, your grandfather’s desk reincarnated in a pair of shoes. Alden is, of course the premiere purveyor of cordovan shoes in the world today, and this shoe is proof positive of their excellence.
    Mr. G. W. was kind enough to write recently saying that he bought his first pair at the men’s store Harolds when he was in High School, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the 60’s. He reports that it was a very popular shoe for all age groups and that he wore his pair for many years. Harolds called the model the “329” and still stocked them until about two years before they went out of business in 2004.

  6. Charlottesville | September 1, 2016 at 4:32 pm |

    So true, Christian. I’m glad to be wearing a pair of youthful wingtip Balmorals today instead of those fuddy-duddy Weejuns. Or is it the other way around? I suppose I’ll just keep wearing whatever is in my closet until either I or my shoes are too worn out for further repairs.

  7. Should have read, “but not the model 683 as seen above”.

  8. Just noticed that those Alden loafers pictured above aren’t dress loafers, but Alden Leisure Handsewn Moccasins.

  9. @Mac McConnell “dress loafer” is oxymoronic.

  10. Well they have to write about something I guess, the Internet is the great accelerator of the fashion cycle. Guarantee there are guys already over this “trend”…and the next three or four “trends”.

  11. @Dave agreed, SJW’s are on the way out thankfully. Just another “trend”. It seems as though certain pieces of Ivy/Preppy clothing become trendy every now and then. I cannot determine whether this is good or bad.

  12. @GS take it for what it is worth.

  13. Jameson Caldwell | September 1, 2016 at 9:55 pm |

    I think it’s hilarious that Christian thinks one can only appreciate tasteful, traditional clothes if one also longs for the return of slavery and shelailagh-based mating practices. Seriously, it’s like a Trump rally in here sometimes.

  14. @ianous it’s somewhat nice to see Ivy style gaining popularity/appreciation for small periods of time.

  15. @Mac McConnell, aah yes the 329. I owned two pair in the 60’s: shell cordovan and scotch grain purchased at Brent’s in Amarillo, Texas. Brent’s was a great trad store owned by Bob Brent, an OU grad. Sadly the store went the way of most years ago.

  16. @Jameson: As a guy who has an actual Ivy degree, and whose dad wore Lacoste and Gant in New Haven in the 1950s, that cracked me up. Seriously, who cares about civil rights and the downtrodden when timeless concepts like penny loafers and the interlining of BB collars are at stake? It’s not that I am disinterested in preppiness (I read the blog, duh) — I just don’t understand the continual snide and defensive comments from the Proprietor suggesting the false dichotomy that the former somehow threaten the latter.

  17. GS
    Funny or you truly don’t know the difference?

    Jameson Caldwell
    I’m confused. When did slavery exist during the IVY hay day? Maybe Christian was talking about fashion rabbit fashistas chase around the track. Although to be honest deviations to the basics Ivy look come and go, the foulard BDs from another post come to mind.

  18. John Carlos
    You have great taste! Scotch grain!

  19. @Mac McConnell Thanks I’m still looking for scotch grain tassels or pennies. Slim pickings.

  20. maybe it should be pennys

  21. John Carlos
    I still have Scotch grain Weejuns from the 1970s and Scotch grain Alden dress tassels from 1968.

  22. University Stripe | September 2, 2016 at 10:57 am |

    The loafer’s power to persevere in the winds of fashion, and more broadly Ivy’s in general, is that it serves as the highest common denominator in men’s apparel.

    I find some hope in the ascendance of what the WSJ article calls “Smart Casual”. Ivy is the answer to America’s poorly dressed office workers if only they would reclaim it.

  23. @John Carlos

    Sid Mashburn has scotch grain penny loafers. I think you’d like them. The brown beaumont is nice too. They have both held up well.

  24. The WSJ article also said: “And the big fashion influence is the runaway success of Gucci’s fur-lined loafers, launched last year…”

    My god, how come we didn’t know about the fur-lined loafers?!! They would go great with my new J. Press gaberdine trousers. With the J. Press no break, he shoes will really show off. Here’s the link:

    They are just gorge, don’t you think! A trendy, WASP-style dream come true.

  25. William Richardson | September 2, 2016 at 12:05 pm |

    @Jameson and Pierre

    I’m fairly certain that our Proprietor does not long for the days of slavery or violence toward women.

    Speaking for myself, I wish for a day when people start acting more like individuals, work hard and stop feeling sorry for themselves. Mind your business and leave others alone.

    Incidentally, I cannot imagine a less Trumplike forum than Ivy Style.


  26. William Richardson | September 2, 2016 at 12:08 pm |


    I think I may have to get these Gucci’s and pair them with my BB hoodie/tweed sport coat with the embroidered bird or whatever the hell it is on the front. THE HORROR, THE HORROR. Are you sure you didn’t photoshop that shoe?

  27. A Bridge Too Far | September 2, 2016 at 12:14 pm |

    I promise – no photoshopping.

    My biggest fear in wearing those wouldn’t be the looks I might get from friends and family. I’d be afraid every dog in the neighborhood would start chasing me!

  28. William Richardson | September 2, 2016 at 12:28 pm |

    My electric blue thirty six button front zoot suit would go wonderfully with these. My clients will surely be impressed.

    Nathan Detroit

  29. William Richardson | September 2, 2016 at 12:30 pm |

    I’m sure the artisans at Alden are coming up with ways to knock off this thing. Hey, didn’t Alden agree to stop making bit loafers. Maybe they saw the writing on the wall and wanted to distance themselves from these wacky Italians.


  30. William Richardson | September 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm |


    I just went to the Gucci site for the first time and it looks as though you pick some of the most conservative shoes they have to offer. Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

  31. University Stripe | September 2, 2016 at 12:38 pm |

    @ A Bridge Too Far:

    You’re overreacting. The truth is that the fur-lined loafer is a “classic with a twist” and will fall away in time. That doesn’t change the fact that the loafer sans fur is still a classic and will be available ad infinitum.

  32. I’m a WSJ subscriber, 58 years old.

    I can’t even remember the last men’s style article in the WSJ that would have appealed to anyone over the age of 30. So I get through the Thursday issue very quickly.

    Feeling old,

  33. A Bridge too Far | September 2, 2016 at 1:29 pm |

    University Stripe,

    You may be right about the fur going away sometime, but those studs will be here forever. How do I know that? Easy. Two basic reasons. First, all men (even WASP-types) want to ride motorcycles and feel the freedom of having the wind in their hair and bugs in their theeth. You may think that’s crazy and that you are exempt, but good research shows every red-blooded American male unconsciously wants to be a Harley guy. I am told that those same researchers did the marketing research for the shoes. The all-male focus groups loved them.

    Second, when you realize that you have just spent $1,600 for a pair of studded shoes, you better believe you’re going to love them. In fact, you will love them so much, you will be out there day after day convincing your friends as well as strangers you meet on the street and in dark bars that they need them, too. This is how conspiracies and trends get started. Just wait — ia year, every guy will have these shoes and the rumor that Hillary is mentally ill and frail will be true.

  34. A Bridge too Far | September 2, 2016 at 1:31 pm |

    Nathan Detroit,

    You will be the be-studded beau of the office!

  35. So true of the WSJ and its lack of interest in anything one of their subscribers would wear. An article this long dealing with Alden cordovans alone would be more interesting. Hipster dudes do not get style tips from the Journal. Trads do enjoy a scholarly article on timeless subjects.
    Question I’ve only purchased Aldens via Brooks. Is there a difference in the lasts?

    Alden’s via Brooks. Is there a difference in the lasts?

  36. @William Richardson
    I think you are confusing me with A Bridge To Far. My post concern Alden of New England.

  37. @wianno85
    I’ve bought Aldens from both Brooks and a retailer. I can’t tell the difference.

  38. @A Bridge too Far
    Don’t disparage WASP/Ivy type motorcyclist. Motorcycling is cheaper than a psychiatrist and teaches survival skills. Motorcycles can put a smile on anyone’s face, just like driving a Porsche Turbo only with less expense. Besides most HD owners mostly polish and trialer their Harleys. Ivy style motorcyclist most likely prefer antique HDs or Indians, but especially new Triumphs or antique Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons and even Vespas. As for the Gucci spiked loafers, like the coffee on my keyboard from opening your link they would make most motorcyclist drop their bikes laughing. If 1% road pirates saw someone wearing them one can only hope they have their Obamacare paid up.
    While the FBI docs seem to prove Hillary is mentally and frail (that’s her defence) and criminal, the real prof is that she wears those continental guido white Gucci bit loafers. (no offence Christian) 🙂

  39. @Mac McConnell funny and I think I know the difference. This is a casual loafer because it is an actual handsewn versus the decorative stitching found on the Alden tassel loafer. Correct?

  40. Wow, people do really hate Gucci loafers here. They really aren’t Italian in style, they’re a fake on the traditional loafer. It’s a loafer with a snaffle bit on it. Not many Italians, as far as I know, are equestrians. That’s a WASP thing, which is probably why they embraced the shoe.

  41. *take, not fake. As funny as it sounds.

  42. William Richardson | September 3, 2016 at 7:55 am |


    Beg pardon.


  43. A Bridge too Far | September 3, 2016 at 11:33 am |

    Mac –

    Didn’t read through your post. Too many words, too much wine and way too tired. But, hey, you ride Harley’s? More power to you. Get those studded Guccis. They were made for you.

    Nathan Detriot –

    I’m at the USOpen tennis tournament this weekend and guess what! I saw a guy wearing the fur Guccis! Scouts’ Honor, it’s true. I asked him if I could take a photo – there was a great spot he could pose with the tennis courts in the background, but he wouldn’t have it. He seemed very annoyed I would ask and said something that sounded aggressive, I think, but couldn’t really tell because he spoke some language I never heard before. In any event, the fur Guccis are alive and well and worn. Who knew.

  44. @GS
    Yes basically the “refinement”. The Alden penny loafer is really just a Logan Weejun in styling. Granted it’s lined and real horse hide making it superior. That’s why you can go through a lot of Weejuns as compared to one Alden. But, it’s still a casual shoe.

    Most “hate” for the Gucci bit loafer is because it’s continental, like Sansabelt continental cut pants. In Sansabelt’s defence they did make some great Ivy type flannels in the sixties. My “hate” for the Gucci bit loafer is mostly tongue in cheek stemming from my continentally dressed Italian friends who think of Gucci like we think of Alden or Weejun or a forty years ago Cole Haan. FYI, they make fun of my taste too.

  45. A Bridge too Far
    Same criticism as my freshman English professor some forty years back. I should have my secretary compose these. Reliance on secretaries has undone all that professor’s good works.

    No Harley here, I have always prefered British Iron.

  46. @Mac McConnell yes Alden is a superior make compared to Bass these days. Also I must say it is hard to defend Gucci in any way given the company’s current offerings. Funny, I never thought of the shoe as continental I don’t think it’s popular in Europe.

  47. @GS
    Almost everyone wearing Gucci bit loafers I’ve known dress continental. Granted Alden and Cole Haan are not Gucci. The only exception would be my nephew, while dressing Ivy he hangs with Italians from the North end (KC). He wears the Cole Haan’s version.

  48. @Mac McConnell that’s odd because it is known that the shoe was embraced by WASPs since its inception and is included in the Ivy style canon. The fact that American manufacturers such Alden and Cole Haan offered a snaffle bit loafer proves that the shoe has been embraced by those with an American style. At least more so than followers of continental style.

  49. *Should be “has been” not “was”.

  50. @Mac McConnell also in the Italian part of my family, no one has ever worn them. Even my relatives in Italy don’t wear them, they truly are now seen as an old, traditional shoe. They have been adopted by Americans long ago and do hold a place in the traditional Ivy style canon.

  51. GS
    I’m not sure a shoe introduced two years after I was born, but not included in Ivy Style till the mid 1970s can be traditional canon. I always thought Ivy canon was fairly narrow, transcending regional derivations.
    The Alden and Cole Haan bit loafers are an improvement on the originals, less effeminate. The Guccis having that crunchy leather uppers and old lady house slipper single leather soles. Evidently your Italian family members have good taste. 😉

  52. That’s kind of you to say but I don’t think they have good taste, and I believe the snaffle bit loafer was included in the early 1960’s. I seem to remember reading, in another comment section of an Ivy Style article, a comment by Mr.Richard Press saying that he wore knock off New Englanish made Gucci loafers in the early 60’s and remembers others wearing them. I do agree that the Gucci loafers are a little delicate and have thin soles. The shoe may have been a late addition to the Ivy style canon but its an addition no less, like the rugby shirt which I believe only caught wind in the 60’s. I understand that you may not like the shoe and that is fine of course but you cannot deny the shoes’ place in Ivy history. Like the bucket hat, I’m sure most of us would agree that it is hideous but it is Ivy none the less. We don’t have to like everything in the Ivy style canon but we must recognize that they have a place there.

  53. @Mac McConnell ^

  54. Gucci’s horsebit loafer was introduced in 1953.

    This is the earliest WASPy photo we’ve found, and they’re on a woman:

    Here they are in ’68 advertised to college men:

  55. @GS
    Canon is a strong word. If you have read my post over the years you known I’m politically conservative, but have always defended fellow Ivy Style commenters on their personal style. Having grown up in Florida, Mississippi, Texas and Kansas city I have seen many deviations from the “canon”. They all were the same basically with regional heresies. It’s all good, Mr. Boyer wears thing I wouldn’t, but he always looks like a million dollars. My goal when selling clothing in an Ivy men’s shop was to teach young men the basics/”canons” as I saw them and encourage them to find their own style.
    Two shoes I don’t like are toggle bit loafers and Belgian loafers, that’s just my style and maybe my loss.

  56. @Mac McConnell I have only discovered Ivy Style this year, since I’m only 18 I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate such a forum as I only began to clarify my personal style recently. I too am politically conservative but I do love Belgians and Guccis and hope to own them some day. They are a matter of taste of course and you are right to that say canon is a strong. Those two types of shoes may not be as mainline as OCBDs and repp ties but they’re in the Ivy style canon, on the periphery as they are not for everyone.

  57. *is a strong word.

  58. @GS
    Welcome to the fraternity.

  59. @Mac McConnell I feel like I’m in Omega Theta Pi.

  60. @GS
    In the early 70s I lived in a Omega Theta Pi at university. I saw the movie with my wife, three of her sorority sisters and husbands from other fraternities. During the whole movie they would all lean forward in their seats to look down at me sitting on the isle. Good times.

  61. @GS I meant Delta Tau Chi.

  62. @Mac McConnell ha! That’s quite the story, love that film. It was the first film that made me really think about how I dress. I didn’t know what ivy style was when I saw it in the film but I knew I loved it immediately. I would love to see an article about the film’s costumes.

  63. goldrushapple | September 14, 2016 at 1:12 am |

    I can’t pull these off since I have flat feet. My first world problems.

  64. goldrushapple | September 14, 2016 at 1:30 am |

    Caldwell: Most likely you’ve never been to a Trump rally and you’re outright projecting your awfully skewed preconceptions. How on earth do you get that this blog, let alone its readers and writer, long for the days of slavery? What an absurd and completely offensive accusation.

    Pierre: Even with that Ivy League degree you still miss the point of the Proprietor’s post and the comments leading up to his particular post. Don’t worry, I’ve met many a Harvard and Yale graduates who aren’t too bright despite stellar ACT/SAT/GRE/GMAT scores. It’s okay, we’re not all perfect. Your proof that you can still grow old and never develop wisdom.

    Note: If there’s one thing that I laugh at here on Ivy Style is the pathetic nature of the likes of Caldwell and Pierre. I’ve read some past posts dating a handful of years ago and I stumble upon the occasional liberal/modern vs conservative mindset and it ceases to amaze me how the former always, always, always, say the most bizarre things about the latter. What a juxtaposition, really, liking the clothes that are connected to “old money” and whiteness yet spewing modern dung.

  65. elder prep | March 5, 2019 at 6:09 pm |

    The discussion regarding the loafer, especially the Bass Weejun, was entertaining and informative. When your pair of Weejun’s require mending, keep in mind the advice in the OPH, “May be repaired by winding white adhesive tape around the front part of the shoe.” No mention is made what to do when the heels need replacement.

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