Penny Loafers

Discussion in 'The Front Parlor' started by Edward, May 3, 2019.

  1. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    I have of late been looking for some new penny loafers. I originally picked up a pair for convenience when flying, and grew to love them as an easy, casual Summer shoe. I recently discovered that there are some colours (mainly Summer, co-respondent style) options I rather like made by GH Bass. To my eye, these have always been a unisex shoe, but would any of the ladies be able to confirm that I am correct and there is no difference other than colour and marketing? I'm perfectly happy to cross the aisle for better colours in footwear, I used to do it all the time back in my Converse days (when the only difference between 'Men's' and 'women's' Chuck Taylors was the colour and extremities of the size range....
     
  2. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Sears used to sell the general purpose penny loafers in both the men's and women's sections of the catalog, with no perceptible difference in gender except the range of sizes. Saddle oxfords, too.

    I always wondered -- what did they put in a penny loafer in the UK? A pre-decimal penny is much too big, but a farthing would just fit. A sixpence would be profligate.
     
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  3. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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  4. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    As someone who spends way too much time looking at old pics and illustrations from the GE on line, I can say that the photo evidence from the '40s - '60s is compelling - young women wore penny loafers all the time (with college girls being a big part of the market, but the market was much broader than that).

    b1711b90ad67176f371117bbc925283c.jpg 066269f90c9ab78e8bfb528d850b0725.jpg 044755b0620ab6b4da59b60f2fab3edc.jpg 37fc5f55c947054948e6269713e04315.jpg
     
  5. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    In my mind, penny loafers are unisex.

    Today, in fact, I think I see more men wear them than women, but women have more choices in dress footwear to begin with. Since I see mostly business casually dressed men at work, loafers seem to be the most common choice in footwear.

    In fact, I've often ended up in the wrong aisle at the Clarks footwear shop locally because the women's flats they've designed seem to only differ from mens styles in narrowness.
     
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  6. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Yes, pretty much all of the retro shoe places in the UK, the only difference ith the saddle shoes is the women get a far better range of colours.

    I don't know, tbh.... I don't actually know how common they were in the UK back when; I don't recall them in my early memories from the seventies, but slip-on shoes generally were popular for men in the Eighties (I remember around 1985/6 there being a particularly awful trend for me to wear 'em in birght red patent leather....). I suspect the coin thing didn't really happen here as a fashion thing. POst-decimalisation, of course, the one pence coin is almost exactly the same size as a Lincoln-cent. These days, it might well be te five or even tenty pence, given inflation, though kids don't really seem to use cash for anything now. Some of the more hipster food outlets in East London no onger accept cash at all.

    Could never get on with tassles, but those ones look nice. Could be an option for the Autumn, thanks. :)

    I see them a fair bit on guys in the Rock'n'roll revival scene here in the UK. Other than that, it's mostly men of my dad's age who either, like Dad, have been wearing them for decades, or who have foundthem convenient as age and or a otuch of arthritis makes the bending over and dealing with laces harder.

    I've had a long look at the GH Bass website, and it seems they do cut their mens and womens styles differently - though only very slightly. Unlike many other makers I've seen, the Bass Weejun vamp ends much further forward on their men's version, with less difference between them and the ladies, but there is a higher tongue on the men's. Crucially, though, the ladies' version does look to be much narrower, so that probably knocks them out. Pity, they had a nice navy and white pair they just don't do for the men. I'm amazed, actually, at how few places do two-tone versions for men, surely they'd be a seller?
     
  7. sheeplady

    sheeplady I'll Lock Up Bartender

    Would a wide size (W) work? Most higher end womens shoes will come in narrow, medium, and wide widths, although it can be spotty. (Only whole sizes are wide, for instance, or this model was wide sized but not this other one.)

    The other thought is most women's dress shoes are sized to wear with hose or very thin socks, so you might want to watch out for that if ordering online. (Women's dress socks are much thinner than men's, I go up a half size in dress shoes I want to wear regular/real socks in.)
     
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  8. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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  9. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    Fascinating website that. Ask Andy about clothes. Most recommendations are around the £400 a pair mark with lots of comments about value for money. At that price I wouldn't expect anything less. Nor do I expect some poor soul in Bangladesh to work a sixteen hour day just so that I can wear a pair of relatively cheap pair of shoes.

    Most of my shoes are hand made by Colin Johnson, he charges me between £110 to £150 a pair, that to me, is good value. I'm not knocking the Ask Andy forum, it's a fascinating read, so many who think that they have to wear what others approve of. Going with the flow just isn't how I dress.

    I know that you like Samuel Windsor's summer blazers, have you seen their penny loafers? https://www.samuel-windsor.co.uk/mens-shoes/loafers A handy tip to prolong the life of leather soles. Wear them until you have scuffed a good key on the soles then get a rubber stick a sole put on them. That and a three quarter steel tip on the heels and they will last forever.
     
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  10. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Possibly; I'll keep an eye on that, thanks.

    Cheers, I'll have a hunt round there.

    It's all a balance, isn't it? Money no object, I'd buy what caught my eye on Jermyn Street and then go to Lobbs for what I couldn't find off the peg, but....

    One thing I notice about a lot of the menswear forums is the apparent craving of rules in a way which goes beyond style principles and just becomes arbitrary to me - things like "A man should never wear rings that are not 'significant'" and such. Actually, what jumps out at me on so, so many of the menswear sites and blogs is just how in thrall they are to the notion of being perceived as "masculine". Makes me feel like something of an alien; it's certainly indicative of my own male privilege, but if you asked me to define myself, something as banal as my gender or sex would be well down the list. Probably why I just find the whole obsession with being "manly" so bizarre. Maybe I'm just secure?

    Is Colin Johnson the guy behind Johnson Custom Shoes? I ordered a pair of black and white loafers from them on Friday. Hopefully the fit is good. I have a nice pair of brown and white ones that London boots did a run of a couple of years ago, unfortunately they run just too big. Highly unusual for me to be anything other than a UK8 medium, but even with an insole these were just a bit loose, so I've had to reluctantly give in. They don't have any 7s left now, two years on - I'm guessing they will do another run once their existing stock sells out. Quality shoes, though, just big. Fingers crossed the Johnsons will work out, as it seems an option there to be able to order a wide range of colours, which is great. I am a big fan of them in co-respondent form, but that's very hard to find. Zara have a nice looking pair at fifty quid this season, but the uppers are vinyl rather than leather.... not for me.

    That's exactly what I do, really makes a difference. The SW ones I might try in Winter for flying them too. If the Johnsons work out, though, I might instead order some two-tones up in darker shades for the Autumn/ Winter, like black and oxblood instead of black and white....
     
  11. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    It is the same Colin Johnson, he's a skilled shoe maker but such a hopeless businessman. However, since his partner Sarah entered his life, shoe orders have been completed in time and dispatched in customer order. If you get any sort of problem just call and ask for Sarah.
     
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  12. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    That's really useful to kn0w, thank-you. It is, alas, a common theme in the artisan world, the wonderful creative who struggles with the business side a bit. I'm looking forward to trying these because I really like the looks of more of the range, and if they are good enough to last, the price is very reasonable.
     
  13. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    My Johnsons arrvied today - black penny loafers with a whit vamp. Wearing them at my desk in the office as I type. Curious as to the sole attachment (looks to be either a blake or goodyear welt with the outer layer of the sole glues on top. Either way, they seen nice quality. Tight enough that when they relax a little they won't be too loose, but not uncomfortably so. True to size, I'd say. In a month or two I might be back there for more.
     
  14. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

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    He always gets that right, so many of Colin's shoes grace my wardrobe, but the only pair not there are the Penny Loafers that he made for me. I wore them to death.
     
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  15. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    I like the look of the casual laced shoes with the perforated vamp for the height of Summer.
     
  16. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Just stumbled across this 1947 magazine cover. As noted earlier in the thread, there's a good amount of pictorial history of pennies being worn by both men and women / girls and boys in the '40s - '60s.
    920aefe92850baf37b11bacabfe13fb3.jpg
     
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  17. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yellow fishnet socks need to make a comeback.
     
  18. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    As an update, the Johnson Custom loafer I bought have so far proven fantastic, with heavy wear over the last month. I think I'll be back for more.... Hopefully a brown pair before the Summer is out...

    I love how in that picture she's wearing the penny loafers and he's in the saddle shoes - contrary to the stereotype!

    Honestly, some of the sights I've seen at Rocky Horror..... I'm talking full-on, Colonel Kurtz level....
     
  19. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I noticed those too.
     
  20. LolitaHaze

    LolitaHaze Call Me a Cab

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    I've been trying to think of a quick pair of slip-ons to purchase. Penny loafers just may be the ticket!
     

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