Wear loafers with jeans
In the hyper-casual world we’re living in, any opportunity to add a little smartness to everyday clothing should be grabbed with both hands. One of the most effective ways to do this, I’m finding, is wearing loafers with jeans.
Jeans are what most men will put on as their default at the weekend, and many during the working week as well. It’s then easy to follow them with the obvious partners: a T-shirt and a pair of trainers.
But a casual loafer, such as the Alden cordovan tassel loafers pictured here, immediately make things both smarter and more interesting.
Of course, it can’t just be any loafer. It has to sit some way down the casual scale, as we discussed at length with regard to trousers here.
Suede or a more casual leather like cordovan are the most obvious materials. And often in a more casual style too: not a slim, thin-welted Cleverley, but a chunkier, round-toed Alden.
My particular favourites are the two pairs from Alden pictured here: a brown cordovan tassel, and a Color 8 cordovan full strap. They’re both on the slightly slimmer Aberdeen last, but the Alden make up is rugged enough, and I still wear my jeans slimmer than some. The regular Barrie last would fit with a wider range of jeans (and chinos).
This look has a few different effects that I like.
One is that it adds personality to what can otherwise be a fairly ordinary look - T-shirt, jeans, trainers - without adding bright colours or fashion-driven sneakers. It’s still subtle.
A second is that it stops an older guy looking too young. There’s something about that tee/jean/trainer default that can be a little infantilising.
And a third is that it stops men looking simply sloppy. Of course there are other ways to avoid this, including wearing neater, cleaner versions of each piece, but substituting a loafer for a trainer is probably the easiest.
To me, there is something of the Ivy spirit in a combination like this.
To many Ivy purists, jeans are anathema; to others, a shirt will always be better than a T-shirt. But the playful combination of smart and casual, using easy, practical pieces, seems in keeping with what I take from the original Ivy mentality.
The jeans can be thrown on, and look better the more they’re worn in. The same with a cordovan loafer - quickly slipped on, and tough enough for the park, the rain and the grass, as long as they’re given a wipe down and a brisk buff afterwards.
Why a loafer rather than a boot, by the way? I think just that a boot is more common, less unexpected, and most of the time more casual than a loafer too.
One brand that does this look well is Horatio (above), which makes (to PS) mid-market loafers in Italy and in the Far East.
The marketing is very effective at showing a guy who mostly wears trainers, how good a pair of shoes can look - whether it’s a penny or a snaffle, with black jeans or blue.
Of course it’s also something someone well-dressed like Ethan (below, far left) has been doing forever. But hey, I was always a late adopter.
At the weekend when I get up and go our - often a little too early, to take a bouncing three-year-old to the park - I instinctively pull on a T-shirt and jeans.
I might wear a Cashmere Rugby over the top, often a vintage piece like an M65 or a jungle jacket as well. But it’s the choice to wear smarter shoes rather than trainers that makes me feel most like I’m wearing something interesting, something personal.
In the pictures here, that T-shirt is a PS Tapered Tee, the loafers are a Trunk collaboration with Alden and the jeans are 80s Levi’s (though let’s the argument about rips for another day - a fight like that deserves its own space).
The blouson is not an especially good illustration of today’s point, as there’s certainly nothing boring about it. But it is perhaps a good illustration of the point made a couple of months ago - that there’s some good vintage shopping to be had in Florence.
It’s a seventies suede popover from Hermès, which I bought at Desii this past summer. Suede is not the easiest thing to buy vintage, but it’s clearly been looked after well - there is a slight darkening here and there on the surface, but otherwise it’s unmarked.
Being a popover, it is quite voluminous in the body, especially the waist (see profile image below).
The jacket cost €700, which is certainly not cheap. But a new piece from Hermès today costs thousands, and of course the advantage of a vintage one is that you’ll never see anyone else wearing it.
I wish Hermès did more pieces like this - more playful in a colourful, Arnys manner, rather than the H stripes and robot prints they define as playful today. Perhaps there’s room there for someone like New & Lingwood to take up that mantle.
Photography: Milad Abedi