All posts in shoes

Is the LHS in Danger?

The abbreviation LHS needs no explanation. It is the loafer for trads, but that may be changing. This isn’t because the much beloved shoe has stopped making unlined cordovan LHS for Brooks Brothers or due to the infamous Alden shoe scandal (see here). It is far more nuanced than that.

LHS stock seems to be dwindling if not disappearing. What has been replacing it is being termed the LMS by Alden enthusiasts. For those that don’t know LHS stands for leisure handsewn and that’s exactly what’s in question. The loafer that seems to be supplementing the LHS stock the LMS is not handsewn, but machine sewn. While this seems like a minor change and it is for most part, but us trads view change (at times even progress) as the enemy. The hand stitching that resulted in small bumps now looks flat, dressier, and kind of lifeless.

Snuff suede LHS
The Alden LHS
The Alden LMS

Why are they doing this? This part is easy to identify. It’s a people problem. The people with these skills are aging out of the workforce and finding people that have these skills is getting harder and harder. Alden is not alone here. It’s a systemic issue that stretches far beyond menswear sphere.

Alden isn’t trying to pull the wool over our eyes. These loafers do have their own model number. For example, the snuff suede pair LMS are 6221 vs the snuff suede LHS’s 6243. On the other hand I have noticed some shops like Shoe Mart to call them “Leisure Penny Loafer” which could lead to some confusion.

Now I am not one to spread FUD. This could easily be nothing more than a short term stop gap or even a new loafer model that will stick around and potentially grow on the trad community. Worst case scenario is that the LHS will slowly vanish from shelves never to return. If you are like me and don’t own a pair this could be our time strike armed with just enough FUD to justify a $600 loafer.

New Spring Shetland

O'Connell's Green Moss Shetland

My new spring Shetland from O’Connell’s Clothing  has just arrived and I couldn’t be more excited, but I can already hear the questions. Questions like, “A Shetland in the spring? Why?” and “Isn’t it getting too warm for Shetlands?.” These are of course all great questions.

Light Green ShetlandIf you go back to my Shetlands as Outerwear post (see here) you will get a better understanding. I use Shetlands as outerwear quite often either on their own or paired with a down vest (one of my favorite looks). This is great for me when the day starts around 40-45 degrees. Even at 45-55 degrees I will use the Shetland as a jacket in the morning. Also, I live in Ohio and run cold so ymmv.
Shetland sweater with vestWhat I also mean by spring Shetland is color. Spring colors can range from pastels to bright pink, but to me the key is colors that are related to nature. The light blue Shetland that I used to favor in the spring has just got a hole in the elbow and I wanted something spring like to replace it until I got it repaired (elbow patches coming soon!). There are a few different places to get Shetlands, but I went to O’Connell’s as they have a solid selection and I wanted to throw my friends up in Buffalo some business.
O'Connell's Scottish Shetland Wool Sweater - LemonadeO'Connell's Scottish Shetland Wool Sweater - Kelly GreenO'Connell's Scottish Shetland Wool Sweater - Green MossIn the end I went with a Green Moss Shetland. In addition to the sweater I chose, Lemonade and Kelly Green were in the running. The reason that I did not go with the yellow sweater is that they did not have one in my size. As for the Kelly Green I knew it would not look as good as the softer green would even though I really really liked it. Last thing, I do recommend sizing up as O’Connell’s suggests or just giving them a call for measurements. Here is to warm weather!

When to Say When

This week I put my old Weejuns out to pasture. This is not easy for me as I don’t always know when to say when. I mean almost never. I am pretty sure that a lot of you out there can relate. There is a fine line between well-worn and over-due, but I seem to miss it quite often.
Old Weejuns I have been wearing my current pair of Weejuns for right around 3 years (see above). To some of you this may sound like no time at all and others an eternity. For the most part I am desk jockey so they don’t see much action outside of the walk from the parking lot to the office and back. I will be honest. While I don’t walk in them a ton I am very hard on my shoes. Monday through Thursday I rotate between two pair of Weejuns, but I end up wearing my brown pair 75% of the time. I also do not use shoe trees. I told you that I was going to be honest.
New WeejunsAfter reading the paragraph above I am sure it is clear to you that I needed new loafers (and better shoe-care habits!). It was clear to me that I probably needed new shoes, but if I had not found a new pair of Weejuns in my closet I doubt I would have made the leap.

This is actually where I could use some advice. What measurement if any do you use to know when a clothing item needs to be moved out of the starting line-up? This does not have to be limited to shoes. It could be for shirts, sweaters, trousers, sport coats, suits, etc. Please help a trad out!

Moc Talk: Sperry Camp Mocs

Like many of you I have been scanning my closet to find any holes (and not moth holes this week!) in my warm weather wardrobe. Overall my closet is in good shape, but my shoe line up could use some help. My Sperry Topsiders are falling apart and my L.L. Bean Signature mocs don’t fit me sans socks the way that I had hoped.
Sperry Camp MocsDuring this exercise I found a pair of Sperry’s Gold Cup Authentic Original 1-Eye Boat Shoe online. While they call it a boat shoe us Trad’s would call it a camp moc. What I liked about this shoe is that I knew that Sperry shoes fit me well sock-less, it featured premium leather, and I snagged a pair for under $100. They retail for $159.95.

There are things that I don’t love about the shoe. The shape of Sperry’s camp moc is a little off. The tongue is a little wider and the toe box looks a little elongated. Basically they look like a boat shoe/camp moc hybrid, but lean more towards the moc side. They also feature more branding than I care for which is none, but from afar it is not noticeable. I can live with both of these things since the fits is so good.

I will have more to report as I wear them in over the spring and summer, but as of know I think that they were a good buy. The fit is good, they are lightweight which is perfect for going sock-less, and the quality is at least one full step above standard Sperry products. If Bean camp mocs don’t fit you well and Rancourt’s are too rich for your blood these may be worth a look.

Boat Shoes & Socks?

As warmer weather draws near our thoughts turn to colorful madras, cool wearing seersucker, and of course the eschewing of socks. Today marks the first day of spring, but the weather has a mind of its own and has decided that we will have to put our warm weather gear away for at least 1 more week. If you have already been sporting your boat shoes without socks you may need to add a pair for the upcoming chilly mornings.
Boat shoes with ragg wool socksIf you are still reading after I suggested that you wear a pair of socks with boat shoes let me explain. I am not suggesting that you add a pair of dress socks or white athletic socks. I am suggesting a rustic pair of socks with texture that will turn your warm weather friend into a cool cold weather shoe.

Ragg wool socks are an Ivy/Trad staple. They have all of the traits that Trads value. They are simple, well crafted items that work well, but unlike many Trad items they are also affordable. Ragg wool socks can be had for around $10-$15 a pair. My go-to brands are L.L. Bean (Bean Ragg Sock) and Wigwam (Wigwam El-Pine), but there are lots of other companies manufacturing ragg wool socks so be sure to look around. I also recommend stopping by your local TJ Maxx/Marshalls as these are great places to find ragg wool socks for cheap.

Soon the weather will be too warm to even consider wearing socks with boat shoes. Yes, that statement means that I am strongly against the wearing of socks with boat shoes outside of what I have described above. Even no-show socks. The sock-less look (and feel!) is not for everyone, but neither are boat shoes. For those of you that want to wear socks with your boat shoes I suggest a pair of Camp Mocs (like the ones on the left). These will not look out of place with socks just don’t wear them with socks and shorts!