Shopping Guides, Stitched Footwear, Tassel Loafers

The Tassel Loafer Guide: What You Need to Know

The Tassel Loafer

Other than maybe the cowboy boot, the Tassel Loafer might be the most attacked shoe on the planet. The accusations thrown at them include: being for old men, fussy, or being worn by “girly men.” Even in the trad community they don’t always get appreciated. George H.W. Bush, who famously flashed the J Press logo of his jacket during a speech, once attacked Bill Clinton by saying he was supported by “every lawyer that ever wore a tasseled loafer.”

By the way, Bush seemed to have upset the folks over at the Chicago Tribune, who called him “out of step with current sartorial trends.”

Joseph Cheaney Harry
Joseph Cheaney Harry: Review Here

With so much hate being thrown towards the loafer, it’s a testament to just how good they can look that tassel loafers are still as popular as they are. In fact, just about every respected shoe brand makes a tassel loafer. From Edward Green to Sperry, there is a pair for every price point.

Much of the derision thrown at them can make them even more enduring. Nobody has bought a tassel loafer because they “needed a nice shoe.” Instead, it is a conscious choice. Maybe someone is clinging to classic ivy style, subverting ivy style, or breaking with the majority opinion simply because they can.

Owning a pair of tassel loafers puts you in a special club. One I would invite you to join.



Alden Advertisement
Alden Advertisement “The Original Tassel Moccasin”; Photo Credit: Shoegazing

For a shoe that is so often associated with old men, the tassel loafer design is actually fairly new. In fact, there are people alive today who were born in a world where the tassel loafer as we know it didn’t exist.

The way the story goes, back in 1948, actor Paul Lukas fell in love with a pair of Oxfords he had from Europe that featured tassels on the end of the laces. However, as much as he liked it, he wanted to change it. To create something that was all his own. After trying several different brands, the ask to develop a new design eventually landed at the desk of the Alden Shoe Company.

Paul Lukas - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The folks in Massachusetts felt that the best way to modify the shoe was to change the base from an Oxford to a penny loafer. A style that had only become popular a decade before. Originally, the tassel loafer marketed exclusively as a casual shoe. However, as the college kids who wore them got older, they started wearing it to their New York City banking jobs, and the current style was born.

At least, that’s how the folks at Alden tell it. While they were likely not the first shoemaker in history to put tassels on a non-tying shoe, they likely did create a few key features. These include the longer toe compared to most penny loafers, and the non-functioning wrap around leather strap around the shoe. 

What isn’t deniable is that, today, almost every major brand’s tassel loafer is based off this original Alden design.



Grant Stone
The Grant Stone Tassel Loafer; Review Here

While “tassel loafer” can really be applied to any shoe that has non-functional laces with a tassel on the end, when most people think of tassel loafer they think of a few key features.

First, the upper will be built out of a single piece of leather. This means that the apron stitching along the toe is strictly decorative.

Edward Green Hampstead
Edward Green’s casual Hampstead; Review Here

Second, the lace will be a single piece running the length of the shoe. This piece of leather will be permanently tied in a knot, and tassels will be added at the ends.

Third, the shoe will feature a goodyear welt-style construction, and the welt itself will be of a reasonable size.

Finally, tassel loafers generally use an elongated last, coming to a rounded point. At least, elongated and pointed compared to most American lasts.

Tassel Loafer - Snuff Repello Suede - Dovetail Leather Sole - Made in U.S.A. by Oak Street Bootmakers - View 6
Oak Street Bootmaker’s take on the tassel loafer; Credit: Oak Street Bootmakers

There are plenty of exceptions to each rule. Oak Street Bootmaker builds a pair on a more traditional moccasin construction. Edward Green uses a braided leather strap on their most popular tassel loafer. Even Alden themselves have broken the rules by making tassels with a wingtip design.

One area where makers are a lot freer to take risks is the materials. Classic tassel loafers can come in calf, suede, shell, and more. All of these are considered within the realm of acceptable for a “classic” tassel loafer.

How to Style

The formality of a tassel loafer is another area of consistent internet-nerd debate.

On one side, you have people who claim that a tassel loafer is inherently less formal than a penny loafer, and should rest firmly in the casual camp. The design was originally a modification on a penny with a bit of flair, after all.

On the other, you have people who claim the tassel loafer’s modifications – the extra embellishment, elongated last, etc. – make it more formal.


At their ancestral home on the east coast of the United States, tassel loafers tend to be worn on the more formal side. At the same time, while you may find Wall Street Bankers and Lobbyists pairing them with suits, they are really pop with chinos, trousers, and sport coats.

It is important to remember the material of the loafer, though. Those green suede ones might not be the best for a business suit, and the black calf pair probably shouldn’t go to the beat.

One thing that is true across the board is that all loafers – tassels included – really call for well-tailored pant break. The slim design can get swallowed up if your pants are too long. On the other hand, going too fashion forward is a look that might not age well.

Three Great Options

While there will likely be a list of the best tassel loafer for every budget coming soon, there are three tassel loafers that you really need to know about it you’re considering a pair.

The Classic: The Alden Tassel Loafer

Price: $584

Alden Tassel Loafer Gentlemans Footwear
Alden Tassel Loafer; Credit: Gentlemens Footwear

While Alden’s story about the creation of the tassel loafer may or may not be true, it is undeniable that their take on the design is the original. They nail the look because they invented it.

Additionally, despite the fairly high cost, the Alden Tassel Loafer might be the most widely available tassel loafer on the market. In addition to being carried by a number of retailers, you can find it in almost every material that a tassel loafer comes in.

If you want the OG design, this is the one for you.

The Splurge: The Edward Green Belgravia

Price: £1,020.00

Edward Green Belgravia
Edward Green Belgravia; Credit: Edward Green

For those who need to worry about every detail except their bank account balance, the Edward Green Belgravia is just about the most well-built tassel loafer money can buy. Offering high-density stitching, and significant hand-work, the Belgravia’s cost can almost be justified.


While the woven lace is part of what separates out the high-quality work of the Northampton-staple, they also offer the Greenwich with a more traditional flat lace.

The 100wears Choice: The Grant Stone Tassel Loafer

Price: $318

Grant Stone Tassel Loafer
Grant Stone Tassel Loafer; Credit: Grant Stone

While they’ve scrubbed most of the mentions by now, when they first launched Grant Stone was pretty clear they had Alden in their sights. Of course, to do that they will need to take on one of Alden’s most classic designs.

You might think that I’m suggesting the Grant Stones here due to the price, but you’d be wrong. Of course, saving several hundred over the Aldens isn’t a bad thing, but the real benefit is the shape of the loafer itself. The Aberdeen last that Alden uses (as well as the 184 last of Edward Green) is notoriously hard to fit. A tight toe box combined with a low vamp mean that for many, myself included, these two picks will simply never fit as well as they could.

With their Tassel Loafer, Grant Stone specifically went for a fuller-fitting toe box. This small change, combined with Grant Stone’s reputation for quality, result in a great tassel loafer.

Wrap Up

What is your take on this Ivy League classic? If you own a pair, how do you style it? Share in the comments below.