There are certain pairs of shoes out there that are timeless classics, avoiding the cycles of fashion and pairing with numerous outfits no matter the year. These types of shoes are near-legendary in most #menswear circles — they’re ubiquitous but never seem to reach a peak oversaturation point. Think Clarks desert boots in beeswax, or a sturdy pair of Wolverine 1K boots or a slick, sharp pair of captoe dress shoes in black or brown. Heck, even L.L. Bean’s slightly polarizing (but wildly effective) Duck boots have gained a cult following of sorts. That’s not to mention things like the Sperry Top-sider boat shoe or a low-cut pair of Jack Purcells or Chuck Taylors in the sneaker market. As if they weren’t already on that list, don’t overlook the inimitable, one-of-a-kind Weejun Loafers from G.H. Bass.
The Bass Weejun Loafers — Spring Style
Introduced to the world as an updated, fun take on a Norwegian farm shoe in the late 1930’s, the Weejun has since become a style staple across the country for combining that perfect mix of casual and prep. Also known as the “penny loafer”, it certainly has its fair share of sharp (and not-so-sharp) East Coast-type style attached to it. But it’s surprisingly versatile and wearable in a number of situations. And, the company now offers shoe care products, Oxford dress shoes in a pleasantly light array of colors and driving loafers and moccasins, among others.
On a personal note, I’d always found loafers a tough shoe to pull off. They required the right setting, the right outfit and most importantly, the right weather. Given a recent trip to Florida and the oncoming signs of spring, the timing was just right to try out a pair for the first time. The shoes are well-made and the quality doesn’t drop even when on-sale from a Bass outlet. The leather feels relatively sturdy and smooth, and when paired with a brown leather care product, it seems as if these shoes could last a long time. A size 10 1/2 (a 1/2 size up than normal) isn’t terribly loose, either. More importantly, like any other great pair of brown shoes, they seem to have loads of versatility. And they exist in the perfect realm between a canvas sneaker (better than running kicks, but too casual) and flip-flops (which should ideally only be worn for guys by the water or at the pool).
Given spring’s approaching weather, taking a sharp brown loafer out for a spin with a pair of lightwash denim, as shown above, is a more unique style move than sticking with dark denim or chinos, although both of these certainly could be done as well. The slick leather offsets the more casual, relaxed nature of both the light and the dark denim, so those combos could work interchangeably. The washed khaki chino blazer from Gap (picked up in an outlet store) as pictured is relatively slim off-the-rack, unstructured and easily wearable with a simple printed button-down (something like this Urban Outfitters number could do the trick).
Of course, the right pair of slim chinos (feel free to work in some color here, too) would work outstanding here, as well. On the top half of your outfit with these loafers, the possibilities are pretty endless. Because lightwash or dark denim provides a sort of hi-lo contrast with a leather loafer, everything from a white henley to that patterned shirt and khaki blazer combo would work (as seen above). Polos (and perhaps a popover as an alternative) are surefire bets as well — work in some color too! And, as many of us have surely seen, the Weejun loafer doesn’t look one bit out of a place dressed up with shorts. As with any of these outfits though, when it gets noticeably warm, outside, be sure to ditch those socks. Some are partial to wearing a loafer with socks in the colder months, but that combo seems counterproductive when it’s snowing heavily. When going barefoot in the warmer months, if you prefer alternatives other than foot powder, no-show sock alternatives are discussed in great detail here by Barron at Effortless Gent).
Note that the proper pair of shorts should hit above the knee and lean slim, not baggy (ditch those cargo shorts at home, preferably). And the right pair of shorts in the spring and summer ideally have a pop of color (note the red in the photo). Tremendous above-the-knee, well-fitting shorts can be found at nice prices by the bunches over at Land’s End Canvas (look for something with a 7-9″ inseam, perhaps the Comer Chino or Chambray options). J. Crew’s Stanton short is well-deserving of praise, (as pictured above). And it seems like even Old Navy is offering a slim-fit short in a variety of colors with an inseam just past 9″. Because the brown loafers are relatively minimal, they provide lots of room for experimentation with colors. And if you feel so inclined, that polo or popover shirt could certainly be tucked in (based on how it fits and feels — that look is too preppy for some; not that there’s anything wrong with that!).
Even in warmer weather, one pair of shoes can take you a lot of different places when combined with more unique items like lightwash denim or a spring or summer blazer. Of course, a staple as classic as Weejuns (which have barely changed across the decades) pairs perfectly with other timeless essentials, like polos, slim shorts and slim jeans in a variety of washes. When the weather does warm up in your neck of the woods, Weejuns could (and should) become a go-to spring and summer shoe.