The Ultimate Loafer?


We used to call them ‘mocassins’ back during the revival days, and we thought of ‘loafers’ as the heavier low vamped versions that seemed to be favoured by the Rude Boys. Here in America the terms seem to be used interchangeably although ‘loafers’ seems to be much the more common.


They come in several versions, many of them worn by adherents to Ivy Style. Venetians are those with a plain, unadorned instep. Tassels are still somewhat common, but easily the most popular are ‘penny loafers’. Seemingly Ivy League students would put pennies in the slots for good luck. I had never heard of ‘Bass Weejuns’ until I came to America, and knew nothing of their transatlantic history, but they seem to occupy some common space in the overlap between Ivy and Mod style.


Loafer details may include full strap, half strap or ‘beef roll’ which has heavy stitching at the sides of the apron like the way a butcher strings up a chunk of beef!


At the beginning of the year I made a short list of the objects of desire that I hope to acquire this year, and among certain items was the ultimate pair of loafers. Emphasis on ultimate, as I don’t need any more shoes and hope to avoid having to buy any more for a long time so this pair had to be good. I thought about my preferences – pebble grain in a shade of tan, reddish brown, chili or chestnut. Half strap penny style with no beef roll. Single width rubber soles for comfort and grip.

I was inching towards the Howard model by Shipton and Heneage, until I discovered what appears to be the same model with the same name made by Cheaney. They have a great colour but I have to admit to being soured by the seemingly disingenuous ‘re-badging’ of certain items. Who actually makes this shoe? Cheaney or S and H? Or someone else? Why can’t they be honest about the provenance?


While pondering these issues I realized that for only a few dollars more I could get the Harvard 2 model from Crockett and Jones. I’m a bit more confident that these are actually made in England by Crockett and Jones and not rebadged from Aldo or Cole Haan or elsewhere, so for (hopefully) the last time in a long time I once again spun the wheel of internet shoe size lottery and today they arrived.


This is the most expensive pair of shoes I’ve ever bought but the quality is very obvious, from the beautiful soft and subtle grain of the leather to the precise mocassin stitching around the apron. They do fit snug – if I’d been in a shop to try them on I’d have tried the next half size up for comparison – but that means if I choose to wear them sockless my feet won’t slide around in them, and I understand that loafers often do ‘give’ slightly with wear.

I haven’t had them out in the wild yet but they are such a versatile style of shoe that they could be worn with business-casual suits down to jeans and even shorts. I won’t be wearing them with jeans or shorts but most likely with blazers and possibly some suits. Pics will be posted when they debut!


Rod’s Togs – Polo Popover

I’d prefer this to not have the emblem on the chest but I found this in a two-for-the-price-of-one deal along with a light blue version at the Ralph Lauren shop in the outlet mall not far from me. (The full length photo shows the colour most accurately).

Sunglasses – Ray Ban
Shirt – Ralph Lauren
Jeans – Levi’s Made and Crafted selvedge
Driving Mocs – Fins For Him

Rod’s Togs – Late Sixties Look

Some time ago my cyber-pal Gilles in France came up with a selfie challenge over in Style Forum, asking us to post pics emulating the look of the Parisian Drugstore Crowd. These challenges may seem a little cheesy to some, but on occasion an interesting challenge can get you to think a little outside your usual routine.

Recently Gilles came up with a new challenge – to emulate a picture from ‘Jim Ferguson’s Fashion Notebook’ – a series of pencil drawings which illustrated Nick Knight’s 1982 ‘Skinhead’ book. At first I didn’t think this was for me, as the early eighties was a time when I spent many nights on the run from Skinheads, but the drawings largely reflect style influence from the original Skinhead period as it evolved from the late sixties Mods. Sure enough, there was one drawing which was more in line with my personal style, and while I usually wear this suit for work, participating in the challenge got me to rethink it for an out of work event – a birthday gathering at a restaurant.


Sunglasses – Randolph Elite
Suit – Thick As Thieves MTM
Shirt – Ralph Lauren Polo
Pocket Square (added later) – Kent Wang
Socks – Tyrwhitt
Shoes – Allen-Edmonds McNeil in burgundy shell

Bowling and Cycling Shoes

In the early days of this blog I mentioned the great trainer controversy. There seems to be a lingering contention among many Mods as to whether or not trainers belong in a stylish man’s wardrobe.

Clearly I’m of the opinion that they do! I have the greatest reverence for the underground clique of stylists of the early sixties and what they did to develop the ‘Look’ that we all admire so much. I have no doubt that most of these fellas would have viewed with disdain the egalitarian spread of the Look from the underground clubs of the West End to the streets of the suburbs, and the concurrent dilution of the ‘suit, tie and hand made shoes’ standard. Had I been a member of their clique I’d have probably felt likewise, but stylish, casual clothes were a rare sight in England at that time, and what is a purist to wear on a day trip to the beach or elsewhere, outdoors on a sunny day?

I give credit to the inventiveness of the street kids who appropriated certain items of sportswear for just those occasions, hence the popularity of tennis (polo) shirts, cycling tops, boxing boots, bowling shoes and tennis shoes / trainers. Among the most classic retro-styled trainers of today are adidas Gazelles and Stan Smiths, in turn the first suede trainer and the first leather tennis shoe. Both made their debut in the mid sixties but their availability in pre EU England was likely extremely scarce. I still maintain that had they been more readily available in the early sixties that they would have been completely at home within a casual interpretation of the Mod ensemble, and that’s why I wear both styles frequently these days, usually with Levi’s and polo or cycling shirts.

In Richard Barnes’ ‘Mods!’ we read the story of how Jonny Moke wore a pair of ratty shoes to go bowling and sneaked out of the bowling alley with a pair of bowling shoes which he wore that weekend as a paid dancer on the TV show ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’, kicking off a trend that quickly ran the length of the country.

I never wore bowling shoes during the revival period, but a few years ago went on a long crusade in search of a pair that looked right and fitted right. This was before I was aware of the availability of versions such as Ikon and Delicious Junction, but I did finally got a pair off ebay … and having finally found them they have sat unworn in my cupboard ever since!


It’s hard to explain why I’ve never worn them. Maybe the chase was greater than the prize? Maybe, having acquired several pairs of the aforementioned adidas trainers in various colours, I always reach for those first? Or maybe I acquired the bowling shoes at a time when I was gradually turning away from the ubiquity of black footwear and towards less ‘harsh’ and more varied choices for my skids? Either way, they remain unused, size 8, ready to go to a good home. (Accepting offers!)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

In the summer of 1977 I made my first ever trip abroad with the family – a long drive down south then by ferry (Dover to Ostende), for two weeks in Belgium. There were bikes everywhere, and loads of kids with cool cycling gear and a plethora of adidas shoes that had never seen the light of day in northern England. Similar discoveries were made by fans of more successful football teams than mine as they followed their heroes around Europe, eventually giving rise to the attraction of ‘Casuals’ to exotic European trainers. I always fancied a pair of cool exclusive adidas cycling shoes as an alternative to the narrow range of trainers on offer in my local shops, but had never even seen them up close.

Some years ago on a trip home to England. I visited Mike Ashley’s ‘Sport and Soccer’ emporium where they were knocking out adidas trainers at much-reduced prices. I was happy to see my holy grail cycling shoe from that childhood trip to Belgium – the rare adidas EM Champ in black with white heel stripes (named after Belgian cyclist Eddie Merckx) included in the sale, but on closer inspection I wasn’t sure about their durability, so I got a pair of Sambas in reggae stripes instead!

Over time I came to regret that decision. The Sambas were indeed a rarity but not nearly as quirky as the EM Champs, and anyway I later picked up some black suede adidas Campus with reggae stripes that were much more comfortable than the Sambas. 36758AA1-E1C7-4FA7-AC4E-56261D51BFA0

Since acquiring a drawer full of shirts inspired by cycling gear in recent years I’ve been on the lookout for some cycling shoes to complement them. And finally, from eBay in Germany …


These are the vaunted adidas EM Champ, in a much more striking cobalt blue, although this pair appears to be reissues and have been updated from how I remember them, now seemingly more robust. Currently, shoes made for actual cycling have become rigid and high tech with clip-ready soles. Instead of real perforations throughout the shoe on the original versions, these remakes are lined with an inner (presumably breathable?) fabric. Likewise the perforations on the sole are now faux, thus moving the shoe from its origins as a purpose-built bike shoe to a cycling-inspired trainer/leisure shoe. I love the blue colour, and while they may still not be the most durable shoe in my collection they will be fine for their intended purpose of strolling on the boardwalk picking out a bar or restaurant.


There’s a cycling theme to everything on show here:

Sunglasses – Roka Rio Ti. They look like normal aviator shades with blue mirror lenses but these are specially designed for sports – particularly triathlon – with non slip silicone nose pads and ear pieces and fog-resistant lenses.

Top – Madcap, a modern retro-influenced cycling style shirt in knitted cotton.

Strides – Levi’s 511 Commuters. These were made with cycling in mind, including a reflective strip on the outseam visible when the hems are rolled, and a strap on the waistband to keep a bike lock. They’re supposed to be stain and rain resistant too. I have a few pairs of these in various colours. Typical of Levi’s they keep tweaking the design. This pair doesn’t have the reinforced crotch that others have, and has a higher proportion of elastane giving them a stretchy component.

Shoes – adidas EM Champ

A Digression – GIVE BLOOD!

Apologies to those who only look in for my views on Mod Style, but I think this is important enough to pass on …

I used to be an occasional blood donor. I never marked my calendar and religiously rolled up my sleeve, but if I was aware of a blood drive going on and it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience I had no problem turning in and letting them have a pint. My blood type is O Positive which means I’m a universal donor.

And then came Mad Cow Disease. I understand that there’s no easy test for this in the blood, so in order to avoid the horrific mistakes of using contaminated blood that occurred during the early years of HIV, in America they set the donor bar really high such that anyone who has spent more than six months in England since 1980 is no longer wanted!

Back in 1992 my sister was pregnant with her second child, and her blood values were found to be askew.  Baby Helen was delivered unharmed but they kept my sister in hospital for further tests which revealed leukemia. She underwent the standard 7 + 3 chemotherapy treatment after which a bone marrow transplant was advised. My brothers in England got tested for free thanks to the National Health Service, but it was going to cost me a lot of money to get my tissue typing done here in America. A doctor I worked with told me to go to Baylor College of Medicine where I could get it done for free if I donated platelets. So after several hours spent with a needle in each arm having the platelets sucked out of my blood, I duly got a document filled with letters and numbers which was my tissue type.

It turned out that one of my brothers was a closer match than me so he underwent a puncture of his iliac crest to make the donation, meanwhile I found myself by default a member of the ‘Be The Match’ bone marrow registry.

My sister (and ‘baby’ Helen) are both in fine health 25 years later. In that time I would get an occasional e-mail from Be The Match just to confirm my contact details etc. Then last month, long after I thought I had aged out, they called me up to say they think they have a match and asked if I would donate.

Well you can hardly say ‘no’ can you? I underwent some more blood draws, and a physical exam, and despite my age and having lived in England they weren’t to be dissuaded, so last week I returned to Houston for the aphoresis procedure. I had five days of injections to pump up my white cell count, which had some unpleasant side effects of headaches and back pain but they didn’t last long. They no longer need to puncture your pelvis, and instead use stem cells from the blood, so the procedure was very similar to my original platelet donation 25 years ago.

I tell this story not to express how wonderful I am, but to spread the word about this important procedure. Some small inconvenience on your part may save or extend the life of someone else, somewhere else, but had my sister not had the misfortune of contracting leukemia I never would have known anything about it. To all those looking in, if you’re in reasonable health and don’t have any disqualifying factors, please look into becoming a registered blood donor and giving regularly. To those who wish to take things a step further, take a look at the Be The Match website – – or for those outside the USA look into your own country’s reciprocal organization. A commitment on your part could make a huge difference in the life of someone else.

Stem cells donation, Houston, January, 2018.

And and now a return to normal service!

Taking Stock of the Blog – 2017

This time last year my stated intention was to maintain the volume of visitors looking in. During 2016 I had 12,322 views from 4,581 visitors in 90 countries. In 2017 I had slightly more views – 13,120, from slightly less viewers – 4,392, posting from 89 countries, so things are holding steady.

I remain fascinated and more than a little flattered at the amount of people viewing the blog and the variety of countries from which they do so. I hope my words and pictures continue to be of some value and / or entertainment. Please feel free to contact me via the site with any ideas or comments. Thanks a lot to all of you for your interest and support of my efforts here – wishing you all a happy, healthy and stylish 2018.