14 June 2014

Boston Style

Last week, Put This On ran a q&a post about wearing loafers with a suit. I'm sure many of you have already seen the article, but for those who haven't you can read it here. While I find Put This On to be a very informative website and I agree with everything they say in this post, I feel I compelled to point out one glaring omission. What about tassel loafers?

The only reason I mention it is because the end summary is that one generally shouldn't wear loafers with a suit. Oddly, I almost always wear loafers with a suit. I'm not alone in this, but perhaps it's an East Coast thing. Here in Boston, tassel loafers worn with business suits are a common sighting, or at least they were when there were more men around in suits. It was/is so common in fact, that as a kid, before I knew the proper name for tassel loafers, I called them "lawyer shoes" because I only ever saw them with suits. I see plenty of guys with penny loafers and suits too, but that's a look I can't get with, excepting of course the case of seersucker suits. Tassels and suits go together like khakis and a blazer, at least in Boston. Why else would a thing like the black tassel loafer even exist if not to wear it with a navy blue suit? Then again, we are the same people who not only accept but tend to prefer button down collars with suits, another combination widely avoided almost everywhere else, so take my opinion with the appropriate grain of salt.

Context of course plays a big part. What's acceptable in an office environment here may not be elsewhere and these unwritten rules should be your guide.I tend to prefer the look because I wear my suits purely by choice, and I don;t want to look like I'm going to a board meeting. Often, a slightly less formal shoe is all I need to tone down a navy or grey suit. However, at a wedding or other formal event, I still wear black lace-ups.

Let me close by reminding you that I also like to wear black tassel loafers with my tuxedo, so it's entirely possible I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about anyway.


WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

Um, yeah. I had the same thought too when I read the Put This On piece. I've always worn black or oxblood tasseled loafers (on occasion) with a suit, and thought nothing of it. But then I too hail from the Northeast. Though I agree that more formal occasion call for dark lace-up oxfords.

Best Regards,

Heinz-Ulrich von B.

NCJack said...

As an attorney licensed in 1975, in North Carolina, I thought I was required to have a pair of tassels in my shoe rotation. And no one ever looked askance at a suit, tassels, and an OCBD combo.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't think twice about tassel loafers with the right suit but then I'm a professor at a small New England university so I suppose I get a bit of leeway in what I see others wear and what I can get away with.

CC said...

Waitaminute, "unwritten rules should be your guide"?

David V said...

I, too, wear my tasseled A&E's with suits. I'm a Midwesterner but I must have been influenced by my East coast friends.

MRR said...

As a law student in Boston I totally agree. I wear tassel loafers (Black, Burgundy and Brown Suede) with all of my suits (although with a spread or English collar) and fit right in with my colleagues and future colleagues. I feel that the tassel loafer is not as casual as the penny or driving loafer and therefore one can dress it up just as much as one can dress it down (wearing it with chinos or shorts).

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...


A "guide" and a "law" are two different things. I'm only suggesting that you take your cues from the situation. Before someone pipes up and says, " well, I guess we should all wear shorts to the funeral then." Let me point out that we are specifically discussing situations in which a suit would generally be considred appropriate.

Also, gues you skipped the self deprecating part at the end where I point out that evrything here is merely my opinion and therefore you may take it or leave it as you like.

If this response seems unwarranted or long winded, it's only because I have seen too many examples on the internet of people inciting inflammatory conversations for entertainment. The best of them can do it with one simple sentence.

Also, CC makes me think Chensvold or an imposter of his. Keep the nit picking over at other blogs, where it belongs.

Consider the bud duly nipped.

Phil M. said...

FWIW, lots of the blowhards on Capitol Hill wear button-down collars with their lawyerly suits every day. John Boehner being the leading example.

Young Fogey said...

I'm a regular reader of Ivy Style, and I'm pretty sure that your "CC" isn't Mr. Chensvold.

As a West Coast native, growing up when professional men still wore suits, I can say that loafers with a suit are the exception, but I do recall seeing the occasional tassel loafer with a suit.

Personally, I prefer to wear lace-ups with a suit, but could easily wear penny loafers with a seersucker suit, should I ever acquire one.

Donald said...

My first job out of college was with a Big 8 accounting firm in Detroit.

Everyone there from Senior Accountant through Partner wore BB or J&M tasseled loafers with his suits. And I mean everyone. I bought some because it looked like they were mandatory.