High fashion is currently obsessed with all things fitted, with tailoring dominating the catwalks. Leading fashion houses draw on past and bring us looks that re-invent history, albeit with new features. Dolce & Gabbana’s recent take on 1930s ‘depression-era workman’ look – complete with wide wool trousers, short fitted blazers and round toe rugged shoes – is an excellent case in point. As is Prada’s brave autumn/winter 2012 collection, which pushes sartorialism to the extreme by offering a dose of mid 20th century military/dictator-esque inspired looks – complete with long double-breasted coats and badges.
Sitting at the other side of this spectrum are the traditionalists like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Their most recent collections show just how strong the appetite for American Prep is. To an extent, this is a look that delivers a compromise. Featuring the ‘uptightness’ of fitted blazers, ties, handkerchiefs and a plethora of other sartorial details, whilst at the same time utilising denim, varsity jackets and heavier materials such as corduroy and wool to relax the aesthetic. American Prep seems to straddle the line between formal and casual.
Transcending both the styles above, tassel loafers have become increasingly popular over the past year with many fashionable men. Interestingly, this piece of footwear was not initially offered by many; despite its growing popularity and wide-reaching appeal. High street fashion has since caught up and – especially for the upcoming spring/summer 2012 season – we now have wide a choice of styles and finishes available in this statement item.
The appeal of tassel loafers is understandable. They are adaptable to both casual and formal outfits, have an aura of sophistication around them and instantly bring your look up a notch when worn with more casual attire.
You would be mistaken to think that tassel loafers cannot be worn with a suit. Even if you have a limited appetite for experimenting, combining traditional black leather tassels with a dark suit achieves that typical Ralph Lauren, ‘Great Gatsby’, gentleman look. The ability to pair with a suit boils down to style and quality. Suits are formal, so you should be looking for a more formal style of loafer. This means structured shapes in high quality leather – ideally you want something that has a slight shine to it, so you can continue to polish and buff them to an acceptable office standard.
Alternatively, suede loafers are a possibility; really it all depends on how you are going to utilise the footwear and how strict the dress code is at your place of work. High quality suede examples, again in structured shapes, are what to look for – but be aware that they will have an instant ‘dress down’ effect as soon as you slip them on. That doesn’t mean they can’t work with a suit for other less formal occasions however.
In terms of colour, you should be looking at the timeless hues of brown and black if you want to wear them with a suit. Oxblood – recently covered in our guide to shoe colour combinations – could potentially be an option, dependant on where you work and your profession. If you do invest in a classic formal tassel loafer, remember that spending more will pay off in the long term. These have become a statement shoe that will never go out of fashion. With a bit of love and care, these could become your go to spring/summer formal shoes for the next 5 years.
One final advantage of the tassel loafer comes from its suitability to the spring/summer season. This is a shoe that looks superb without socks, due to their inherently low profile and slip-on nature. Why not try a suit, no socks and shirt combination for summer events this year? It would be perfect for weddings, garden parties and the like.
Thanks to their character, tassel loafers have a natural leaning towards casual. Buying them in suede leather is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to sport tassels as part of a relaxed weekend look.
As the lookbook below demonstrates, tassel loafers offer a surprising amount of versatility. They look great paired with denim, chinos, blazers or even varsity jackets, which is why they are perfect for transcending the two dominant styles within menswear – American Prep and ‘uptight’ tailoring.
Again, when buying suede tassels, you will be confronted with numerous alternatives in terms of both style and colour. Blue and tan suede are the most popular colours available on the market today, and both would become an instant statement piece within any outfit. A coloured tassel loafer has the potential to become one of your trademark pieces for the coming season.
However, as always with coloured footwear, the key is to let the shoe effortlessly become the focal point. This means adding neutral and unfussy surrounding pieces, in order to bring balance to the overall look. With this in mind, try pairing blue suede tassels with slim chinos, a neutral blazer and a white fitted shirt for an elegant take on smart-casual. Accentuating the choice of footwear by adding an accessory of similar colour is always a good idea, but remember that ‘less is more’ – a simple blue polka dot handkerchief could be just the right amount.
If you prefer a more conservative look, try brown suede loafers. Brown compliments almost any other colour, and works particularly well with warmer tones (such as all those coloured chinos you have been stocking up on). For the ultimate new-era Dandy, and brilliant inspiration of how a tassel loafer look should be pulled off, check out Matt Allinson’s article on Mr Lapo Elkann.
Notice the amount of styles and colours available below. There are deck shoe inspired silhouettes, loafer/brogue hybrids, contrast soles, thick vibram soles and everything in between. There really is a style of loafer for every personal taste this year.
The tassel loafers have seen a recent spike in popularity. Far from being a fashion fling, these are a true investment piece and an item worthy of a distinguished gentleman. Their character offers versatility and sophistication, which makes them perfect for both formal and casual occasions.
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