All posts in Footwear

Singing the Thrift Store Blues

Bostonian Crown Windsor Tassels

I recently came across a shoe that on the second-hand market that I have been pining over for a long time. This shoe is none other than the cordovan tassel loafer. The only problem was one that all of my thrifters, Ebay scourers, and other experts of the second-hand/vintage clothing markets can relate. Will they fit?
Tassel LoafersCrown WindsorsThis specific pair of tassels are Crown Windsors made by Bostonian. These tassels are not from the current iteration of Bostonian, but rather from an era when their quality was on par with Allen Edmonds and Alden. This specific pair was being advertised as having not been worn outside, but after taking a close look at the sellers pics I believed them to be new old stock (NOS). The quality, condition, and price (when compared with a new a pair) made them very very attractive to me.

My first move was to do some due diligence. I contacted a man of many tassels that I know and sought his counsel. He could not provide me with any fit information in regard to vintage Bostonian tassels, but he did have other pairs of vintage Bostonians and sent me what info he had. I did some more research on the web and in the end I felt the odds were in my favor. I pulled the trigger.
Genuine Shell CordovanBostonian Crown WindsorWhen the shoes arrived they were in spectacular condition. I now fully believe that they have never been worn before at all, inside or outside. I was enamored, but the moment of truth was here. Try on time. They fit a tad big, but I was still hopeful that after a full day of breaking them in that they would work for me. I was wrong. They slipped all day and were even painful. I was and still am crushed.

This sad story is one that I know many of you have experienced. It is also why I am weary of the second-hand/vintage market. While I can certainly get my money back out of them it involves me reselling them which in my opinion is a form of torture. Moving forward I will be purchasing less and less from this market as I can afford it, but for now I will just sing you my thrift store blues.

Billax’s made up rules for TNSIL apparel – Shoe impact

Shetland Herringbone Tweed with AE loafers
This post is a reprinting of a post on a forum that is frequented by Billax. Billax is not only one of my style role models, but a friend and a man that was Trad back when it was called Ivy League.

Hypothesis/Justification for trousers – cuff/no break and tapered leg casual pants.

I’ve worn the cuff/no break (see here: Cuff, no break)look for 56 years. I’ve also worn tapered-leg-opening casual pants for the same number of years. It’s a deeply ingrained preference for me, but can one work backward to an analytic justification for that look? Maybe.

I’ve been speculating on a set of principles that might/could justify the “look” of the pants I’ve worn so long. I’m at a point where I’ve stopped grinding on it, so I am writing it up to have thoughtful guys tear apart my principles and reasoning. Here goes:

There is one practice I always follow. If you can’t buy in to it as part of this thought experiment, what follows will make little or no sense. Here’s my practice: When standing, while wearing a jacket and tie, I button my jacket, except when wearing a vest or waistcoat. This practice (right or wrong) comes from my principles (up until recently completely inchoate)

Here are my three rules:

1) In TNSIL Men’s apparel all cinches, closures, and adjusters are invisible when standing.

2) In TNSIL Men’s apparel all ornamentation is exposed when standing.

3) When rules 1 and 2 are in conflict, rule 1 takes precedence.

So, what are cinches, closures, and adjusters? Firstly, they are NOT the top layer of apparel. Here’s a partial list:

  • arm bands to adjust sleeve length
  • braces
  • belts
  • shirt buttons
  • tie bars (when used exclusively for promoting tie arch and verticality)
  • shoe laces

All the above serve to organize, adjust, and hold the relative positions of one’s garments. They are not seen by others during business, professional, or formal settings.

Now, what are ornaments?

  • cufflinks & studs
  • Tie Bars that express one’s interests or have a ornamental design element
  • Tassels, horse bit, or penny straps on loafers
  • Lapel pins

 All the above are designed to attract the eye

Issues that come up with my hypothesis:

  1. Shirt buttons are not covered by a bow tie. While I am not a bow tie wearer, I am a Bow tie fan.
  2. Monogrammed and otherwise fancy belt buckles are ornamentation on belts. When standing, while wearing a jacket and tie, a buttoned jacket with TNSIL rise trousers won’t show the ornamented buckle. (Rule 3)

Now, getting to trouser length and leg opening taper, here are side views of a classic dress shoe and a classic loafer. It is not necessary to like or dislike these shoes in order to make my point.
Dress Shoe 1Tassel Loafer 1

I’ll add a black rectangular overlay to represent trousers as they touch the dress shoe and the loafer.

First, a very dressy captoe – Allen Edmond’s Park avenue. To meet Rule 1, the leg opening must cover all the shoe laces on this 6 eyelet shoe. This shoe widens the required leg opening, and because of the high quarters on dress shoes, exposes no sock.
Blocked Dress ShoeSecond, an ornamented loafer – Allen Edmond’s Manchester. To meet Rule 2, the trouser leg must be both more narrow and sit a bit higher on the shoe. In addition, the low quarters on loafers will expose a little sock at the requisite height for ornamentation to show.. Whether the ornamentation on the loafer is a penny strap, a horse bit Gucci, or a tassel, the same result occurs – trou are narrower and sit higher on the shoe when wearing the more casual shoe.
Blocked LoaferException 1: Monk Straps and double Monk straps require trousers to drape lower on the shoe than any other footwear, so as to not violate Rule 1, which states that all cinches and closures must be covered when standing. No getting around it, monk straps are problematic for the TNSIL guy. Maybe that’s why I have never owned a pair.

Exception 2: Venetian loafers have no ornamentation and no closures, thereby having no min/max point for trouser height or width. Fifty-two years ago I bought my first (and only) pair of Venetians. I could not make them look “correct” with trousers of any height or width. That was the first time I ever thought to myself that, “There should always be some natural suggestion as to the relationship between apparel elements.” Still think that.

So, loafers with their ornamentation and lower quarters look best with a slightly narrower leg opening and sit slightly higher on the shoe. Laced dress shoes require trousers with a slightly wider leg opening sitting a little lower on the vamp. Socks will show with ornamented loafers, given their lower quarters. Socks will not show on dress shoes. THIS IS A DESIGN FEATURE, NOT A DEFECT. Any way, that’s my story and I’m sticking’ to it!

 Thoughts?

PSA: Allend Edmonds Shoe Bank Website

The once mythical Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank where deals were rumored to be unparalleled has now transcended trad lore and manifested itself as a website (Shoebank.com). I first became aware of the Shoe Bank from an employee at the Allen Edmonds factor outlet not too far from my home. I was looking for a discontinued style and the employee said they would look at the Shoe Bank for it. While they didn’t Allen Edmonds Shoe Bankhave the shoe the employee had the Shoe Bank send me a list of everything that they had in my size. My eyes where opened.

The original Shoe Bank was a retail store located in Wisconsin where factory seconds, discontinued, and closeout styles were sold. This is where the legend originated. Visiting the physical store in Wisconsin was not the only to get access to this stock. Prior to the new website emailing the Shoe Bank was how us trads accessed the stock from afar.

The new Shoe Bank site also functions as online factory outlet.  I have always felt lucky to have Allen Edmonds factory store near me. They primarily sell seconds with the occasional closeouts and discontinued styles mixed in. 99% of the time I have not been able to identify why the shoes are labeled seconds which speaks to the standards that Allen Edmonds has in place.
My Allen Edmonds Shoes                                                                    A pair of my Allen Edmonds seconds

At first I was a bit unconcerned that this new website would lead to a depletion of stock. However, the fact the new site is not an e-commerce site made me feel a little better. This means that there is still some leg work that is required customers which may deter a few would-be customers. If you see something in your size that you want I would encourage to act quickly before someone else does.

Stripes of Youth

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As a youngster stripes were one of the first trad items that I recognized as cool. They have a flashiness that appeals to youth, but when paired with the primarily subdued clothes of a trad that flash is reduced to a mere glimpse of color. However, moderation is not always an easy lesson to learn, especially when young, but this post is not about how to use stripes. It is about items with stripes that I would have liked to wear when I was in high school or even college.
Ralph Lauren Ribbon Loafer 2
Ralph Lauren Ribbon Loafer                                                                  Ralph Lauren Ribbon Loafers: $450

The Ralph Lauren loafers above were the inspiration for this post. Embellished with not only striped grosgrain, but a leather strap and buckle as well. These loafer are not for the unadventurous. And while they may not be the best choice for the office I think that they would do well on a college campus.
Smart Turnout Striped T-ShritSmart Turnout 4Smart turnout 3Smart turnout 2Smart Turnout 1
Smart Turnout T-Shirt: $55

The next item up is a t-shirt from Smart Turnout. Better known for their vast offerings of striped watchbands and socks the folks over at Smart Turnout will incorporate stripes into just about anything. What I like most about this t-shirt is that the stripes are limited to pocket; restrained, but definitely noticeable. I think that this would be an excellent choice(grey more so than white) for a middle school, high school, or even college student who is in need of a t-shirt for the gym, chores, or just lounging around the house.

Stripes are the equivalent to a gateway drug for trad clothing. making them a great way for young people to dip their toe into the trad world. In fact, I encourage them to indulge (in a responsible  way. Do not wear matching striped belt, socks, and watchband. Or socks and belt. Or more than on item. Or…) and I hope that they continue down this path until they find themselves clad in shetlands, cords, and oxford cloth.

More striped posts:
Watchbands
Regimental, Repp, & Rugby Striped Socks
Striped Hooded Rubgy

Wallabees in the Wild

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A pair of Clarks Wallabees may not be one of the first shoes that come to mind when one thinks of Trad, Ivy, or Preppy shoes. In fact, it may remind some readers of one of the most non-traditional decades in terms of dress the 1970’s. However, Wallabees have been a part of my wardrobe since the mid-90’s and there is something that I find classically casual about the shoe.

It is true that most classic casual shoes such as the penny loafer, bit loafer, tassel loafer (probably a few more loafers), and of course their brand cousin the desert boot are all pretty sleek. The Wallabee is not a sleek shoe and may have more in common with a long wing gunboat or all weather walkers with its chunky sole than its casual counterparts. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes hearty clothes such as wide wale cords, a flannel shirt, jeans, or even a thick sweater can use an equally chunky shoe to balance out the look.
Authentic-Wallabee-Clark-570x300

If you are looking for an alternative to the boat shoe or camp moc I think that the Wallabee can make a nice addition especially in the spring/fall months. For those that are still on the fence I have included a few pics that may help to win you over and remember to always look for the real thing (Clarks Wallabee vs Clarks Padmore).

Wallabees in the Winter

Wallabees for Business

 These may not be Wallabees, but they could be.

Cords-Shetland-WallabeesMens Club 1981 via Heavy Tweed JacketWallabees and Sweater