Penny loafers are classic slip-on shoes which can be worn with jeans, chinos, or a summer suit. Here’s what you need to know about the versatile shoe.
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How Did Penny Loafers Originate?
During the early 1900s, a young man named Nils Tveranger moved to Aurland, Norway after learning how to make shoes in America. While living in Aurland, Nils developed the Aurlandskoen, also known as the Aurland Shoe.
The shoes were inspired by the Native American mocassins, which is why they’re slip-on shoes.
During the 1930s, Norwegians visited America wearing the Aurland shoes and they caught the attention of G.H. Bass, a footwear company founded in 1876 by George Henry Bass.
G.H. Bass saw it as an opportunity and created their own version called, the Bass Weejun (Short for Norweigan). This made them the first to market in America and became very popular in the 1950s where it was the shoe of choice for many.
Instead of simply being a plain loafer, they attached a strap across the top and created a slot for a small item, such as a penny. This was perfect because at this time, there weren’t any cell phones and change for a payphone could be hidden in their shoes in the event of an emergency.
What Did Weejuns Look Like?
G.H. Bass still sells Weejuns to this day. Here are the Winter and Easy Weejuns:
How Are Penny Loafers Versatile?
Popularity rose as a result of their versatility. Back then, people could wear them with a suit, shorts, casually, and with preppy outfits. Nowadays, you can wear Penny Loafers with street style, dapper, and casual outfits. They can also be worn with or without socks.
Are Penny Loafers Comfortable?
Yes, Penny loafers are very comfortable slip-on shoes. Although you can wear them without socks, wearing no-show socks are recommended to ensure they last longer without smelling bad.
Are They Formal?
Penny loafers are in between the Tassel (least formal) and the Gucci loafers (most formal). However, Penny loafers are the most versatile. This means you can pair them with a summer suit and many other somewhat casual suits, but not a tuxedo.
Are They Only for the Summer?
Penny loafers with no-show socks look great during the summer but they can be worn year-round. You can wear them with long socks underneath chinos, jeans, or dress pants during the colder seasons.
What to Wear With Penny Loafers
These loafers can be worn with many different outfits. Here are a few examples of what you can wear with them:
Formal: Navy Blue Suit
How to Take Care of Penny Loafers
As with all shoes, keeping them in good shape is vital. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure the longevity of your loafers:
- Use a soft brush or cloth to remove dirt
- Use shoe trees to hold their shape
- Use shoe bags
- Polish them once every few months
Since their origins, the Penny loafer has been a timeless, fashionable, and versatile shoe that every man should own.
Additional Shoe Resources
Want to learn more about shoes, or how to style different pairs? Here are a few more resources:
Featured photo by David Em/Next Level Gents