Penny loafers for spring and summer

Posted by Atte Rytkönen on 4.6.2017 in General

There are many good options in terms of spring and summer footwear. But one model is above the others. The classic penny loafers. As the summer keeps coming it’s good to take a closer look on loafers. And why I personally like them that much.

Loafers in general are a perennial menswear classic. No matter what kind of style you prefer there’s basically a loafer for every type of guy.

Carmina brown suede penny loafers
One of my all-time favourite penny loafers. Brown suede by Spanish Carmina. Pic by The Armoury.

First of all the shoe is a staple for guys in love with the sleek Italian style. It is also essential part of the Ivy League uniform. And finally it is appropriate choice for casual oriented street wear guys. Loafers are also a good choice for men who travel a lot. They are easy to take off and they for help you to get through securities faster. Still they will be appropriate for any business meeting after traveling. All in all loafers are shoes to be worn. They are as practical as they are stylish.

Short history of penny loafers

In the first place loafers originated from the rather unlikely birthplace of Norway. The original loafer was based more on the moccasin and it was more rustic than the modern loafer. Originally loafers were worn by Norwegians primarily as a day-to-day work shoe. It was a hardy shoe – but there was something attractive about it. A short while after that Norwegians began exporting these shoes to the rest of Europe, where they were taken up by visiting Americans, and finally made know to the masses by the feature in the American Esquire magazine.

The iconic Crockett&Jones Sydney Penny loafer
The iconic Crockett&Jones Sydney Penny loafer.

G.H Bass classic weejun penny loafer

In 1930s bootmaker G.H. Bass created the nowadays a classic “Weejun”. That is how the modern loafer was invented.

The shoe is known alternatively as penny loafer. Name comes from a strip of leather over the front of the moccasin-style shoe.

This was an addition that Bass made. This was a shoe that appealed to the middle and upper classes all around United States and even abroad. Shoes became known as the ‘penny’ loafer as men used to store a penny behind the strip of leather for making emergency phone calls.

Penny loafers for spring and summer

Today the classic loafer has expanded in several directions. Tassel loafers for example are widely popular nowadays. Loafers with chunky soles are sold to guys looking for more fashion forward approach. And loafers with a metal “horse’s bit” made famous by Gucci are a classic choice. In addition all of these loafers are available in limitless amount of colors.

One of the best features in terms of loafers is their versatility. You can combine them with shorts in summer on one day and pair with a suit on another. Some wear their loafers without socks and some add personal style by using socks with multiple colors and patterns. There are guys who want their loafers in calf leather so that they can create a nice patina. And other guys who prefer suede and finally those who go for patent leather. But one thing you can be sure about is that there’s a choice for everyone.

Suede penny loafer by Meermin and brown calf leather loafers by Crockett&Jones.
Do you go for suede or calf leather?

My penny loafers

I personally have two pairs of penny loafers in rotation at the moment. The first one is a pair of Meermin snuff suede loafers I orders a few years ago. The second one is the latest addition to my shoe selection. It is a pair of Crockett&Jones Sydney penny loafers that I bought from Eliel’s this spring.

Meermin snuff suede Ron last penny loafers - perfect for casual casual
My pair of Meermin snuff suede penny loafers after four years of wear.

Meermin snuff suede penny loafers – perfect for casual wear

The first of my pairs is made by Spanish Meermin. It is a in fact an mto-pair I ordered while I visited their trunk show in Stockholm in 2013. The pair is made on their Ron last which feature quite low instep and round toe but still pretty slim shape. In terms of size I would say the last is pretty true to size. I wear UK6 in most of my shoes and these I picked with the same size. And especially for a loafer I would not size-up with this last, as I personally want my loafers to fit pretty tight.

Suede penny loafers are an optimal choice for casual summer combinations.
Suede penny loafers are an optimal choice for casual summer combinations.

Pair with denim

The suede penny loafers are a perfect match for a pair light or dark blue jeans. If you want to dress up your casual look a little bit, change the sneakers for these kind of loafers. I tend to wear this pair with t-shirts and polo shirts but I do also wear them with my casual suits and sport coats. And naturally, the lighter shade of suede makes the pair even more casual. If you choose a dark brown suede, it is easier to wear with more formal and business-oriented clothing such as suits and dressed-up wool trousers.

Crockett&Jones Sydney calf leather penny loafer – for business and casual wear

For me the Crockett&Jones Sydney is one of the iconic penny loafers. It has been on my list for a long time. And as I got a chance to try it through Eliel’s, I finally pulled the trigger. Crockett&Jones has also other nice loafer models such as the Boston and Harvard but for me Sydney is more aesthetically pleasing choice.

The Sydney is a loafer with a medium round toe. In my opinion the 341 is an excellent last for both formal business and smart casual wear. It is quite long, but it is not too long, It is round but not too round. For example it’s not as aggressive as the 348 last from C&J which is a favorite for many guys. Due to the slightly longer toe shape you could say that it is a  modern and more contemporary adaptation of a classic penny loafer style.

In terms of sizing I would say again that the shoe fits true to size. I made my choice between the UK6 and UK6,5 but ended up with the UK6. The heel of the shoe is pretty narrow, which in my opinion is a good thing, especially when you talk about loafers. The fit of the pair is quite tight, but as I intend to wear these mainly with very thin socks or completely without  socks, I wanted to take the smaller size. My recommendation with the 341 is to go with your normal size, but it is always better if you get to test how the last fits you.

Wear with suit or jeans

The Sydney is a penny loafer that is equally comfortable dressed up or down. This is a pair you can wear as well with your business suit as with denim jeans and a polo shirt. I think the Sydney is as its best when you combine it with well-fitting navy blue or brown suit, white shirt and solid tie. But you can as easily wear the model with light blue jeans, a popover and casual sport coat.

Brown suit, white shirt, navy blue grenadine tie and brown calf leather penny loafers - ready for business meetings.
Brown suit, white shirt, navy blue grenadine tie and brown calf leather penny loafers – ready for business meetings.

5x penny loafers

As mentioned already, penny loafers are versatile and quite easy to combine. Still you should think the purpose and envinroment in which you will mainly be using your loafers. For business wear and to wear with suits or wool and cottons slacks pick a pair made of calf leather with more sleeker last. For casual wear my recommendation is to opt for suede with a last that features a bit more rounder toe.

And in case you don’t already have a pair of penny loafers, here are five options to choose from this season.

5x Penny loafers - Crockett&Jones Sydney

1) Crockett & Jones – Sydney

Are you looking for a classic penny loafer? In that case my suggestion in terms of color and material would be brown calf leather. This pair made by British Crockett&Jones featuring single leather soles is an optimal choice for summer.  Versatile option that is easy to wear and combine. I can recommend it as I just bought a pair.

5x Penny loafers - Carmina dark brown suede

2) Carmina – Simpson last

The second option is a brown suede pair by Spanish Carmina with chiseled and sleek Simpson last. You can combine these with your navy blue suit and wear for casual business meetings. But they also work with crispy with t-shirt and distressed light colored denim for relaxed weekend wear.

5x Penny loafers - Rancourt cordovan leather

3) Rancourt

American Rancourt is a classic and iconic loafer maker. The company has been manufacturing genuine handsewn moccasins for over three generations. This particular model is made of espresso colored cordovan leather. Perfect choice for anyone looking for more casual and relaxed option.

5x Penny loafers - Meermin black calf leather

4) Meermin

Spanish manufacturer Meermin is known for their offering of quality shoes with very reasonable price. Black is not that common color for penny loafers anymore but it is still a classic choice. These would make a good pair for your mid-gray summer wool suit, white shirt and dark blue grenadine tie.

5x Penny loafers - Saint Crispins

5) Saint Crispin’s

And then to that other end of the price range. Saint Crispin’s offers elegant, luxurious and formal take on the classic penny loafer. This pair can be combined with any business suit. It is also appropriate with smart casual outfits featuring flannel slacks and navy blazers.