There are a few sartorial staples that no man should be without: the navy blazer, the white dress shirt, and of course the classic oxblood penny loafer. We’re not talking about the new Italian loafers with the contrast, white stitching and a three-inch stacked heel. No, we mean the old-school, rounded-toe, brushed burgundy loafer, the kind your grandfather wore to his college graduation and yours. Today we compare a posh pair of loafers for the Harvard grad and a reasonably priced substitute that will produce the same trad effect.
Alden Cape Cod Penny Mocc
Alden, one of the last American shoe companies, opened its doors in 1884 and has been a cornerstone of the dress-shoe market ever since. Alden is the company that produced the boots worn by Indiana Jones (They still sell the “Indy” boot today) — it doesn’t get any more badass than that. Handsome does not begin to describe the Alden Cape Cod Penny Mocc: something that puts on airs just a little, say, “pulchritudinous”, seems more appropriate. The stitching is precise; the soles and inner lining are leather, and they proudly display those words we love: “Made in U.S.A.” The rich oxblood hue of the Alden Penny matches almost every pair of pants you own, making this pair of shoes an understated classic that will never go out of style. The downside to Alden shoes, aside from the $300 price tag, is that Alden is a small operation, requiring returns through authorized retailers (there aren’t many around) and several weeks’ time for repairs and resoles. Then again, you’re going to have these loafers for the next thirty years, so you’ll get over it.
G. H. Bass Larson Weejun
Founded in Maine in 1876, G. H. Bass claims to have stitched the world’s first penny loafer in 1936. Named after a Norwegian design, their Weejun has been the shoe of choice for preps all over New England since its introduction. It’s classic, it’s affordable, and it’s easily found at the Bass outlet around the corner. While the Weejun doesn’t have all of the finishing touches of the Alden (it’s unlined, and most Weejuns are now made overseas), it’s also a third of the price at just over $100; G.H. Bass won’t be as quick to repair or resole your shoes, but then again, at that price the Weejun can be easily replaced without breaking your wallet. Plus, when you walk down the street, no will know that they’re not Aldens, except you…and us. Then again, how much does that matter?