Tassel loafers are a personal favourite here at The Northampton Gent. Don’t be confused into believing that the classic American item of clothing is something that belongs on your grandfathers feet. This classic has continuously grown in popularity over the last few years and are perhaps one of the most versatile items of footwear a gent can wear. With such a wide range of styles and colours available and depending on the outfit you pair yours with, tassel loafers can be appropriate for both casual and formal looks.

Brown tassel loafers
White Trousers and Suede Tassel Loafers

History of Tassel Loafers

The Alden Shoe Company can be credited with inventing tassel loafers shortly after World War II at the request of the actor, Paul Lukas. He came to them with a pair of shoes with tassels on the end of the laces. They were drastically modified using the tassels as part of the design on a moccasin-style shoe. Tassel loafers became all the rage across Ivy League campuses across America with those seeking a slip-on shoe that was a dressier than the popular penny loafer and have been with us ever since.

Style Guide

It is easy to see why tassel loafers are so appealing to the fashion conscious male. The timeless footwear can be found in most high end fashion retailers and high street brands which means there is never a shortage of styles available to suit any preference. They have managed to effortlessly float from one generation to another, remaining consistently stylish, from the Ivy League groups of the 50s to the Wall Street crowd of the 80s.  In this article, we will look at how the tassel loafer can be worn with both casual and formal looks and give some ideas on different outfits they can be paired with.

Casual style

So let us start with incorporating these into a casual look.

Hudson Shoes Pierre Tan
Hudson: Pierre Tan Tassel Loafers, £100. Source: www.hudsonshoes.com
Naby blue tassel loafers
Combination of Black and Blue with Navy Blue Tassel Loafers
Brown tassel loafers
Green and Burgundy Combination

So firstly, colours. When wearing tassel loafers casually, you are not as restricted to what colour choice you make in comparison to more formal occasions. Whilst navy blues, browns and tan are popular choices that pair well with any number of colours, there is always the option to be adventurous with burgundy.  The surrounding pieces should be neutral so as not to detract too much from the shoes, letting the loafers become a focal point for your outfit.

With casual looks, it is perfectly acceptable to leave socks out of the equation. Because of the very nature of loafers, with their low profile, slip-on-design, they work very well without socks and enhance the casual, preppy look. This makes them ideal for the spring and summer months.

Suede or leather? For casual looks, both can be pulled off but suede is certainly the more popular option, injecting a relaxed look into any casual outfit. Slim cut jeans, trousers and chinos all pair well with the footwear, reinforcing the versatile nature of them. Pairing these with a white shirt and unstructured blazer creates a brilliant, smart-casual outfit that is highly stylish.

Formal style

Integrating tassel loafers into a formal look requires a different approach.

Lanvin Tassel Loafers
Mr Porter: Lanvin Cross-grain Leather Tassel Loafers, £525. Source: mrporter.com
grey and brown tassel combination
Grey Suit and Brown Tassel Loafers
Reiss Culross Tassel Loafers
Reiss: Culross Hand Finished Tassel Loafers, £245. Source: reiss.com
Suit Supply Tassel Loafers
Suit Supply: Brown Suede Tassel Loafer, £249. Source: suitsupply.com

No stranger to Wall Street, tassel loafers work wonderfully well with formal suits and do not look out of place in the office when incorporated correctly. For formal tassel loafers, go for browns and black which are traditionally timeless as opposed to brighter colours which suit more casual looks. When deciding to go for suede or leather, we would suggest going for leather. This is not to say that suede loafers are out of the question, it really depends on where you intend to wear the outfit. By judging the ocassion, you will know whether it is appropriate to wear leather or suede. Tassel loafers, by their very nature and design, are always going to lean slightly to the casual side of the sartorial spectrum, so suede loafers may not be appropriate for the boardroom but can work marvelously at less formal events such as weddings.

Also, when looking to wear your tassel loafers with a suit in a more formal setting, do not be afraid to spend that little bit more to ensure you get good quality and structured shape. A good suit will provide a very clean cut silhouette and it is important that your tassel loafers create a sharp silhouette that reinforces the overall outfit. By purchasing tassel loafers made from good quality leather, they will clean and polish well over the years. Think of a formal pair far more as a timeless investment.

When questioning whether to wear your tassel loafers with or without socks in a formal setting, you should again judge the occasion where you intend to wear them and go for the style that is most appropriate. Donning a pair without socks looks more casual so should probably be avoided in the office. In these more conservative settings, we would suggest wearing socks one shade darker to your trousers. Also avoid choosing socks that will pop out, such as bright colours and overt patterns. It will clash with a formal outfit. For settings with a more relaxed dress code, wearing your tassel loafers without socks is fine, especially in the spring and summer months.

Final Thoughts

With their timeless nature and versatile design, it is easy to see why the American classic has been so popular for so long. When worn and paired with the right pieces, tassel loafers can transform an outfit, adding that extra level of sophistication to a smart-casual outfit and acting as a unique alternative to the Derby and Oxford in a formal look. Do not be afraid to experiment with integrating them into your attire, especially with the spring and summer approaching.

Let us know your thoughts.

Do you own a pair, and if so, what do you pair yours with?
Do you think tassel loafers have a stigma of being old fashioned and granddad-ish?
Do you think tassel loafers can be worn in formal settings or should stick the casual end of the style spectrum?