The Tassel Loafer, Smart or Casual ?

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The Tassel Loafer, Smart or Casual

The Tassel Loafer is a shoe that I feel fits nicely in to two camps, both smart and casual. Not many shoes do so well, but here goes on why I think so.

mod shoes the specials on rock goes to collegeThe Specials in 1980 were one of the first massive influences on me. The 1st lP cover and the ‘Rock Goes To College’ concert were my introduction into them. The suits and style of both the band and audience, most of which ended up on the stage, was 3 button suits and mixture of shoe styles including The Tassel Loafer.

I was too young to understand it was a late sixties fashion, or that it mainly was an late original mod, skin look. To me it looked smart and nothing like anyone else I knew. At school we wore blazers, but the blazers weren’t the same as the suits, and for defo my shoes were what mum got me.

Anyways my point is they looked smart. Now am I mixing the word, Smart with Cool? No matter really because I still feel the Tassel Loafer is smart and cool.

So lets forward to a few years ago. I was at a Business Networking event. A guy I know, a solicitor, is wearing classic Loake Brightons with a fairly normal blue suit. I said to him, you into the mod thing, he said no, I said about the shoes, he said it is quite common for lawyers to wear them.

Now I think of lawyers as usually pretty good dressers, it is part of the job. You have to look the part. And he was wearing them in a professional capacity. Where as I wore mine with jeans and trousers back as a kid.

So do Tassel loafers work with both?

I know what I think, but the point to this blog is to prove the point. And the only way to do that it is to get some pics.

So first up, the glorious The Specials, I will argue one of the most perfect bands ever, in so many ways. And on the feet of 3 of them were tassel loafers. And all 3 pairs of the loafers are being worn with a suit. So 1 point to the smart side

mod shoes the specials in tassel loafers

Next up. This guy is defo a bit of a dude, not sure about the scarf, but the brown tassel loafers and white jeans, with a tiny turn up, look really good. Weller seemed to spend most of the 80’s in a very similar style. Sorry to say that I don’t know what make of Tassel Loafers these are, but they look expensive. 1 point to the casual.

mod shoes casual tassel loafers with white jeans

This picture , the lady is wearing white socks with the Burgundy, Oxblood Tassel loafers. A classic female look, big in the 80’s with some of the hip hop people. Again it is one of those looks that is casual, but not scruffy. Meaning to me it took a lot of thought to get it right, but at the same time is not formal. So 1 again point to casual.

mod shoes oxblood tassel loafers with jeans

The guy on the left is wearing a look so many of us have had. Button down, parka, dark jeans, white socks and yes Tassel loafers. The picture looks modern so I am guessing perhaps less than 10 years old, but the look is timeless, late teens casual mod, ie out with your mates. Street Mod in fact. So yet another point to casual.

mod shoes mod in tassel loafers and parka

The next set of pictures are of what I think of Smart Young Professionals. My assumption is that they work in the city, but not in banking, probably new media? Anyways loving the suits, although would prefer 3 buttons, and mostly no socks! So although the look is smart, it also saying casual. 1 point to smart.

mod shoe loafers semi casual Scott Disick Films in NYC's Meatpacking District mod shoes tassel loafer with a suit mod shoes tassel loafers with a suit

Again to counter argue, here is some very cool, but never the less, causal looks.

mod shoes loafers with jeans casual mod shoes tassel loafers with jeans mod shoes tassel loafers with trousers

I like this look on this guy, again no socks, jeans with a jacket, but tie pin, the ties a little wide. But he looks cool. This combination normally I hate , jeans and jackets are hard to pull off, but this guy does. And on the feet, yep Tassel Loafers. Again smart casual !

mod shoes tassel loafers with jacket and jeans

This last photo I love the colours, that green and yes brown combination just look so cool. Only the jean shirt lets it down. Again the details on the suit, make the look ‘DING’. But the tassel loafers shine away at the bottom.

mod shoes Green-Suit-Denim-Shirt-Brown-Loafers

The oxblood tassel loafer to me has to be one of the best shoes to wear with a multitude of outfits.

  • With jeans, you go to the pub in them or a northern soul do.
  • Jeans , Fred Perry and loafers, perfect for a ska do.
  • Put on some trousers, add a button down and you look ok at birthday party or evening out.
  • Put on a smart suit and your loafers and you are ready for a smart night or that wedding the wife has dragged you to.

If you made sure you got leather soles, then you can dance away the hours.

And lastly you know you are in the good company of wearers, please stand up, Suggs, Jerry Dammers and many others.

So the Tassel Loafer I conclude is Smart & Casual. I await debate!

Are Tassel Loafers with Feathers MOD?

Are tassel loafers with feathers MOD?

I ask the question because reading around a few sites on the net and talking to some MODS they feel that the ‘feathered loafer’ really is a Ska, Rudeboy or even Skinhead shoe. The kinda of people saying this though, do tend to be of the 60’s mod end of the scale! But to counter argue, I know lots of lads that are more street mod, revival or dare I say it scooter MODS, that think they are great!

Mod shoes shoes for sale in the 60s

So what’s the history?
Looking around the net at the 60’s guys in pictures where you can even see the shoes, it looks like more thinner soled leather shoes. There are plenty of Chelsea boots as well. The first you see of the Classic Tassel Loafers is the smarter side of the Original Skinheads.

Now I think this may be where the confusion starts, where did MOD stop and Skinheads start!

Certainly I think outside of London, the MOD fashion would have carried on developing. I also think that outside of London money would have been tighter and also availability. Which leads me to a conclusion that you would want a shoe that’s going to last, because you probably didn’t have the money to buy another pair of shoes for a while, and if you even had the money where would you buy them?

Loake Brighton Tassel Loafer. The shoe shown here the company have been making since the 60’s. Suggs of Madness is the most famous wearer i know !

I have been told by several 60’s mods from around here that you could get Loake Loafers, but you had to hunt them out. I dont know about Bass Weejuns, but again I am sure these were a Modern Jazz shoe. Loakes make sense here in the midlands because it is so close to Northampton and the major British shoe manufacturers.

Loake have been making the Brighton style Tassel Loafer since the 60’s. And it sold well throughout the 70’s especially in the Northern Soul circles.

The Loake Brighton is heavy looking shoe and the style that has been adapted by Delicious Junction and Ikon for their classic Feathered tassel loafer. A lighter tassel loafer, with feathers is a spainish variety I have seen some people in and this has more rounded toe section. Both varieties of shoes seem to divide the opinion of MODS

In this picture you can see 2 distinct styles of the Tassel Loafers with Feathers. The first two pictures are of a ‘Bostonian’ i like these, i especially like the brogue at the front of the shoe. The 2nd pair are by Ralph Lauren. Both styles are a Fancy perhaps even Dandy shoe, and not a mile away from a Female Tassel loafer !

So back to the question.

So the above history is why i think the Feathered Tasseled Loafer is thought of as a MOD shoe. Similarly the classic MOD scooter has a great big whip Ariel , but you don’t see any of them in Richard Barnes MODS book.

So moving onto the Mod Revival, again this period got intwined with the Two-Tone phase. A lot of styles got muddled between a lot of the younger fans of The Jam and The Specials. Certainly for this author, I had several pairs at school. I loved both bands and thought the line between the bands and their followings wasn’t that far apart. Meaning we were as happy listening to The Specials 1st lp as we were to Sound Effects!

The Bass Weejun Layton. An absolute classic of a shoe. Very popular in the 80’s.

And again I think this might be why we think of the shoe as a MOD shoe. it wasn’t till later into the 80’s that people starting looking further than the bands and into 60’s soul, and that I think, is why MODS starting looking for more stylized loafers.

As the decade progressed some MODS turned into casuals and went for a more casual style, similar to the Delicious Junction Paolo Hewitt style shoes. Some MODS went for the Bass Weejun style and I can remember from rallies and seeing pictures of London Mods going in this direction, which as you would expect, filtered out across the rest of the UK.

Then the shoe faded away and I think only recently come back with what is known on the scooter scene as ‘born agains’ And the tail end of the Britpop era of Oasis etc.

No not the 60’s or the 70’s but this year 2012. Image from http://www.demotix.com.

The next point I think is very important. The ‘Born Agains’ are older, which is obvious, but more importantly they had/have more money and wanted the things they had when they was younger, but better!

A lambretta or Vespa is not the cheap option anymore and neither are the accessories! And shoes , along with clothes, fit into this neatly. I have spoke with several customers on the phone and they say, ‘ I want the ones I had at school, but better’ or ‘ I always wanted a pair because my older brother, mate etc had a pair and always fancied some for myself one day’

More evidence is the poll that’s has been running on this site recently (oct – nov 2012) Tassel Loafers with Feathers has come up top.

So without getting into the bigger argument of what is even MOD, MOD as we know “is a very broad church” (copyright Eddie piller) , and so what one person thinks is spot on, another thinks is ugly!

So what do I think ? and possibly conclude !

I think that ‘Tassel Loafers with Feathers’ are MOD, in the same way I think The Specials are MOD. Perhaps not pure MOD, but then neither is Northern Soul and i can think of plenty more examples of other things that are not pure MOD.

So for that reason, we included them on MOD shoes.

Disagree ? Then write telling me why below.

SHOES WE SELL:

Loafers with Tassels

Loafers with Tassels – Tassel Loafers

The traditional Mod tassel loafer shoes are as distinctive as they are iconic. A classic choice, always in style, as smart as they are comfortable and practical. They are the perfect smart-casual footwear to take you from day to night.

They are perfect to dance in, especially when combined with a leather sole. When worn with casual attire they can instantly bring your look up a notch.

The key buying factor with tassel loafers is always to go for the very best that you can afford, quality shows and does not come cheap.Look after them well, remember to polish soon after an all-nighter, as the talc could dry out the leather.

Paul Lukas. Actor. The story goes it was he that asked Alden to copy a european tassel loafer, which started the shoes becoming popular !

The world has been in love with loafers for over half a century, but what accounts for this legendary status?

A Little Brief History Lesson.

Tassel Loafers, with their aura of timeless sophistication, often evoke the elegance of the 1920’s, thus confusing some clothing historians into mistakenly believing that this is where they date from. In fact they originate from the post World War 2 era, when tweed jackets, Shetland sweaters and penny loafers were synonymous with the upper tier university campus.

As college students graduated, they wanted to wear a shoe as comfortable as their slip-ons, but with a touch more sartorial elegance.It was at around this time that an actor named Paul Lukas, ( a rather debonair character from such classics as “The Lady Vanishes”), returned from a trip to Europe with a pair of Oxfords.

The shoes sported little tassels at the end of their laces, which Lukas thought made them look more lively. He approached a couple of New York shoemakers to see if they could craft him something similar.

Aldens Tassel Loafers

They took the job to Aldens, manufacturers of quality shoes since 1884, whose company president at the time, Arthur Tarlow, came up with the tasseled loafer. The earliest examples were often 2-toned, and soon became popular in Hollywood. That makes Alden’s model the original, and Paul Lukas the first man to wear this style of footwear.

In the USA the tassel loafer is often seen as synonymous with lawyers, a symbol of elegance and the good life for successful professionals and business men.

Classic Bass Weejun – Notice the threaded boat shoe style lace around the angle

In the UK the shoe is popular with some business people with a bit of flare, but for most people will know the shoe, because of the MOD – Skinhead fashion.

The styles are different though, some tassel loafers are a very soft shoe, which is a very popular casual shoe in the USA. The Alden style is more traditional harder leather shoes. The classic MOD style is like a BASS Weejun. The Skinhead style is more rounded and heavy looking.

The styles we have for sell here are the ‘Merton‘ similar in style to the classic Bass Weejun and the heavier ‘Rudeboy‘ Two Tone shoe. Both types are very popular and come in black, brown and Oxblood. The ‘Merton’ also comes in a mottled blue leather.

 

SHOES WE SELL:

 

Tassel Loafers Review
Delicious Junction, Loake, Ikon and Bass Weejuns get a review. 4 different types of Tassel Loafers, including a womens pair!

Oxblood Tassel Loafers

Oxblood Tassel Loafers

The Tassel Loafer (or Tassle Loafer) is a classic Mod style. For me it started with The Specials and the Two Tone movement of the late 70’s. In many of the pictures, the band can be seen in a cross blend of MOD, Skinhead & Rudeboy style. And on their feet a mixture of shoes, but two favorites, Brogues and off course Tassel Loafers.

The Specials, 7 people with 3 of them wearing Tassel Loafers. And the iconic sleeve.

The tassel loafer is a variation on the Penny Loafer. Examples of the shoes can be seen certainly in the 50’s with the IVY League look, Alden’s and Bass Weejuns everywhere. The original shoe was a copy that Alden made, I believe in the 30’s. The Alden loafer is more pointy than the traditional MOD loafer.

As we know a lot of the look for MODS and Early Skinheads was taken from the IVY League look and I also think the Jamican Rudeboy look. The Jamican look I assuming came also from Black America!

Recently I have been trying to find Blue Note, Modern Jazz players wearing the shoes, but no luck yet, but I do seem to think this may also be why the shoe in on the scene.

Style wise, there several variations, Bass Weejun just have the Tassel, where as Loakes Brightons come with the feather. IKON is very similar to the Loake. Delicious Junction, who we stock, do both styles. The Merton is very like the Bass weejun and the Rudeboy, as it name suggest has the classic feathers.

The Rudeboy has the leather upper and sole. Stitching at the back of the shoe and a hi shine. Meaning the shoe looks great straight out of the box. To me the box is important as well, as I like to keep my shoes in tip top condition, so a decent box means I can keep them on top of the wardrobe out of harms way.

The Classic look, look at the guys towards the back, harringtons, monkey jackets and loafers. The guy in the foreground in Tassel Loafers

Colour wise, the shoes comes in 3 colours, Black, Brown & the very Popular Oxblood. The Oxblood colour is not a pure colour, but very nice effect in a cherry red , which has had a slight bit black shoes polish added which gives it a Vintage look. If you look at the picture you can see the effect. It reminds me a lot of the look that Trad Skins went for in the 80’s when they were trying to distance themselves from the OI Boys.

Notice the Mottled effect

The shoe as always looks great with a suit and jeans. Looked after the leather upper and leather bottom will last ages. I personally have a pair and they are really comfy and not at all like the cheap shoes I had as a 2nd generation mod in the 80’s.

The Oxblood Tassel Loafer is a very popular style with us, feel free to ask questions.

SHOES WE SELL:

 

Tassel Loafers Review
Delicious Junction, Loake, Ikon and Bass Weejuns get a review. 4 different types of Tassel Loafers, including a womens pair!

Tassel Loafers

What can be said about the Tassel Loafer, to me they are the Street MOD shoe. The tassel along with the feather exsudes MOD. Again, I think this is because so many people have had a pair. Other than the Desert Boot nothing signifies more of what the public think as MOD.

They go in and out of fashion and are definitely a throw back, but why not. They are a shoe for going out in! They are a shoe to dance in, all night. They can come with leather soles which means you slide around a dance floor.

They look excellent with jeans, and a suit. I think you get my drift.

Like the rest of the classics loads of people make them, and again buy the best you can afford. Cheap ones look cheap and fall apart. Looked after well and polish straight after an all-nighter, you don’t want the talc drying them out.

Tassel Loafers Review
Delicious Junction, Loake, Ikon and Bass Weejuns get a review. 4 different types of Tassel Loafers, including a womens pair!

SHOES WE SELL:

HISTORY:

Tassel loafers came into being in the post-war period of the 1940s, right when tweed jackets, Shetland sweaters, and penny loafers dominated prep schools and Ivy League campuses. As college students graduated, they wanted something as comfortable as their slip-ons, but were a bit dressier and more sophisticated for their new life in the business world. It was around this time that an actor named Paul Lukas came back from Europe with a pair of oxfords. They had little tassels at the end of their laces, which Lukas thought made them look more lively. So he took them to a couple of New York shoemakers to see if they could make something similar, and they in turn took the job to Alden. The company’s president at the time, Arthur Tarlow, came up with tasseled loafers and they were an instant success. That makes Alden’s model the original, and Paul Lukas the first man to wear this style of footwear.

The above is taken from the website http://putthison.com/post/30457460870/the-charm-of-tassel-loafers-i-really-like-tassel

PICTURES:

mod shoes rudeboy tassel loafers with gibson clothes 01 mod shoes suede tassel loafers with gibson clothes 02 mod shoes rudeboy tassel loafers with gibson clothes 04 mod shoes rudeboy tassel loafers with gibson clothes 03 43 mod shoes rudegirls in tassel loafers 12 mod shoes scooter mod wearing tassel loafers

Aldens Tassel Loafers
Aldens Tassel Loafers

mod shoes the specials in tassel loafers mod shoes mod in tassel loafers and parka Tom Ford Tassel Loafers

Loafers

Loafers are my favourite shoe. It helps that you can get plain and tasseled. Being my age, I am second generation MOD/Two Tone kid, they appeal because they looked so right, and worn by one of my favourite bands ever The Specials.

Two Tone was it MOD? But hey what it did do was bring loafers on to the feet of many young people. The proper ones cost a fortune then and still do! But the quality is so much better.

The original Loafer was designed just before the 2nd World War and has its origins in Norway. Norwegian farmers would wear a shoe when ‘cattle loafing’, hence the name. The shoe developed further in America by the company BASS, and they called them Weejuns, after the Norwaygians. They added the all important strap across the front of the shoe.

The term ‘Penny Loafers’ comes from prep school students wanting to customise their loafers, the penny being wedged in the front strap.

The Loafer look for MODS, I assume, comes from the Jazz players, meaning the Blue Notes lp etc. and because of the college boy look, ie, Harringtons, Levi’s and Loafers. A defining look even today.

There are several makers these days as you would expect. Prices in the UK vary a lot.  You can buy an ok pair for about £50, but spend a bit more and go for a old school make and you can feel the difference. BASS Weejuns are a thinner shoe, where as the Loakes have a more sturdy look and feel.

SHOES WE SELL

PICTURES:

The Classic look, look at the guys towards the back, harringtons, monkey jackets and loafers. The guy in the foreground in Tassel Loafers
The Classic look, look at the guys towards the back, harringtons, monkey jackets and loafers. The guy in the foreground in Tassel Loafers

mod shoes red socks and loafers 02 Prada Penny Loafers mod-shoes-basket-weaver-loafers-for-women-06 36 mod shoes penny loafers and button down