There’s probably not a single type of shoe I cherish as much the loafer. While cap toe oxfords are the quintessential choice for formal attire, I still find the nonchalance of a pair of black calf’s leather penny loafers offers more personality. Dressed with socks that match your suit’s trousers, loafers become a natural extension of your ensemble.
Cary Grant is the ideal example; in my view he perfected the look. In Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief, he appears natural and carefree throughout – a vision of elegance – pairing his black calf penny loafers with a mid-grey Fresco suit and soft white shirt.
Aside from Grant’s sartorial success, when I meet well-dressed men from all continents of our globe, I’m struck by how differently the loafer is treated depending on the wear’s nationality. In Sweden, the loafer is considered a very casual shoe for the summer months, but is rarely seen as an option for suits and formal wear. Oxfords are still the most appropriate choice, and by far the shoe that dominates sales in-store. As for many of my American friends, black penny loafers are considered perfectly acceptable with a business attire and the tassel loafer is an iconic component of Ivy League and preppy style.
Loafers even vary between different countries of origin. French shoemakers seem to prefer an elongated last shape, while British and American loafers are often shorter and rounder, delivering a more conservative look. Myself, I find Crockett & Jones’s 325 last (used for the Cavendish tassel loafer) to be second to none. With its elegant rounded toe shape, it offers the perfect balance between smart and casual style, and fits both the shoe’s upper and apron just so.
Working with fashion, albeit classic menswear, I’ve noticed a trend towards loafers in recent seasons, and even towards casual designs like slippers and unlined slip-ons. At a time when the polo shirt is gaining ground over the shirt and tie, I think the comfort and casual attitude of loafers feels appropriate for most men; whether that’s a pair of mushroom suede tassels worn with white trousers, or a pair of black Belgian loafers with your Black Tie rig.
Another advantage of loafers is that they are the perfect travel shoes. They’re comfortable, easy to take off during an airport security check, and combined with a pair of trousers and navy blazer you have everything you need for a short business trip, or weekend away.
If I look back on the last two summers I’ve probably worn loafers six out of every seven days. They range from classic penny designs in brown or black calf, to tassels, wholecut loafers and Belgians. Of course, loafers work in almost any situation during the summer. I feel just as comfortable wearing my pair of Cavendish loafers in Polo Brown Calf Suede to the beach, as I do with my olive green cotton suit for dinner.
Proof, if any more were needed, that in high summer Crockett & Jones’s loafers are as indispensable as can be. My own personal love of loafers has been a lifetime in the making, and hopefully yours will be too.
Read on for Andreas’s four favourite pairs of Crockett & Jones loafers;
1. The Cavendish – The best tassel loafer in the industry! The elegantly rounded 325 last and the balanced profile of each shoe makes them wearable in everything from Polo Suede to Shell Cordovan
2. The Henley – Again, this shoe perfectly reflects the greatness of the 325 last. I prefer the Henley over Sydney due to its slightly shorter and rounder silhouette, and in a Dark Brown Grain leather with rubber City Soles they are wearable well into fall.
4. The Kensington 2 – There’s something about a wholecut loafer that intrigues me. Maybe it’s the clean lines on these, which put me in mind of a beautiful sports car.