Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Weejuns: Take A Penny, Leave A Penny

I recently purchased a pair of Bass Weejuns a few weeks ago and while relaxing on our deck, I began to ponder whether or not I should add pennies to my penny loafers.

Since I like them both ways and TOPH is silent on the penny issue, I decided to enlist the help of some of my favorite style bloggers with the questions: 1)Penny or No Penny? 2) Why?

1) No.
2) I have put pennies in, but speaking as a slightly *ahem* older reader here, would feel a little forced for me now. For a young buck, sure.

A Continuous Lean
1. No penny.
2. Because if you wear them with a penny you will look silly.

all plaidout
I know nothing of the history of the affectation. It is not necessary to add a penny to a penny loafer, but why wouldn't you? It's fun, it's a form of self-expression, and they are called "Penny Loafers," for cryin' out loud. I will say this, you must have a sense of humor to do it.

Joe told me about his pennies. He has the birth year for each of his children in his shoes. Mine are two pennies I found on the sidewalk while walking around my first days as a New Yorker. A friend shoved a five cent piece and a tenner in each of them, and he'd say, "If I'm gettin' Nickel and Dimed, I'm doin' it with my shoes on." Awesome.

I have never really worn penny loafers.  I had a pair when i took ballroom dancing classes in 7th and 8th grade.  At the time, i was more concerned with how much ice cream i could buy with 10 dollars at the local Ben & Jerry's after the classes, to ever consider putting a valuable penny in each one of my Colehan loafers.  I was a size 9, now i am a size 13.

next time I venture to that side of the shoe store, i may consider throwing some pennies in them, but until then i will wear my wingtips, sockless.
a time to get

I could care less what some "rule" says or doesn't say. I rock pennies in mine. They have to be pennies you find though, can't just put them in.

So, yeah, I say go with pennies. It shows a sense of humor and that you're not taking the whole thing too seriously.

I used to go with the penny back in college, but at some point I started wearing them without.  At this point, though, I think I would be inclined to go with the penny again.  I liked to have a penny from the year I was born (1984) in one shoe, and a penny from the current year in the other shoe.  The shinier the better.

Cary Black
Tough question...but definitely with. They are the quintessential "penny loafer." Plus it lets me represent my home--Illinois.

Class Act / EyeFiveStyle
I don’t have any, but I would rock the penny because I'm a fan of little details that set your style apart.

Delaware Blue Blazer
I would skip the penny.  In my opinion I think the shoes have an understated elegance without them in there.  That being said after they are starting to show some signs of age the penny might give them that extra bit of life.

Evan Wathington
I say, put a penny in'em. Weejuns are preppy shoes and as a nod to the 50s adding a penny is a classic style statement.

I would have to say that really depends on your personal style preference my man.  As far as some of the original penny placement reasons, pennies have been put in loafers for everything from good luck, to a general fashion statement.  I don't think there is any harm in adding pennies, but make sure you are 'wearing' them and they aren't wearing you.  You know what I mean? 
I've also been told people wear pennies in brown loafers and dimes in black loafers to colour coordinate..

Getting Beat Like You Stole Something
Why not pennies that are your son's birth year?

Heavy Tweed Jacket
I've never put pennies in my loafers. It always seemed a bit contrived to me. Though I did have a good friend in college who always kept a dime in each shoe, so that he could make a phone call. That dates me because there's no way that one could make a call today for 20 cents. Try it both ways, and see which you like better.

In Pictures and Words
Weekend/casual, penny... work/business, no penny... exception - your suit is quirky and slim/trim (BoO, Thom Browne) penny all the way. And if your loafers are black never rock a penny. The copper tone is too prominent and pairs better with brown tones.

Inventory Magazine (Ryan Williams)
No penny.

Ivy Style
This is like asking boutonniere or no boutonniere. It depends on your taste, and if you think you can pull it off.

In order to pull of pennies in penny loafers, you'd have to do it ironically, as it's so quaintly archaic. If you were someone wholly devoid of an ironic sensibility— it would come off as precious, nostalgic and dorky.

Joseph Gannon
I don't see any reason not to have them in....I have penny's in my Weejuns.  One for the year Quade was born and the other for Carmella's birth year....but to each their own.

I say do what feels right. I rock my Wiggins without but if you do the penny you better own it because
most cats these days just don't have the same swag like they did back in the day to do it justice.

Longwing's Page
Penny or No Penny?  No Penny
Why? Because I'm not in grade school anymore.

Man of the 50s
I don't put pennies in my weejuns is the short answer. I think it is a style choice more than anything else. I have always been a rather conservative dresser. I don't see anything wrong with it, if you like it go for it. I had a friend in school who put dimes in his because he said he wanted everyone to know he could afford to.

1. No penny

2. Jewelry or other adornments should never be added to shoes. Factory installed...original equipment-ok. No aftermarket parts allowed.

Mister Crew
Penny - because it looks better.

Mister Mort
A penny for your thoughts a nickle for a kiss, a dime if you tell me that you love me.
I say sans penny,

Off The Cuff
I'm somewhat ambivalent about the penny thing.  I think that if you like the idea, definitely do it; otherwise it's an affectation and that always feels wrong.  I have a nice old pair of penny loafers, Bostonian I think, with no pennies.  However, my much older pair from Barrie Ltd. (was right next door to the original J. Press) - which went missing a few years ago - had pennies.  Go figure.

If I have to choose, I say do it.  If nothing else, people will look and then say, "hey, you DO have pennies in your loafers.  That's so preppy - what's the deal?"  Instant conversation starter.

Red Clay Soul
1.      Penny or No Penny? – NO penny
2.      Why? – Loafers look fine without a penny.  Adding ‘bling’ doesn’t add anything to the look; in fact, a penny makes it look like a costume.

Sartorially Inclined
Sure. Why the hell not? Its a cool detail for you alone that most people will not even understand the significance of.

Secret Forts
My feeling is that the penny in the loafer gag is a bit too ironic, wink wink for my liking. If there's one thing I can't stomach, it's ironic dressing. A pair of weejuns, some rolled up jeans, a good madras bd. That's a clean summer look. Keep your change in your pocket.
Southern Gent
1. Penny or No Penny - I'd have take this on a case by case basis. If it's the classic Bass Weejuns (vs. Aldens, McNairy, Crockett and Jones) and you are going for a certain look (khakis, OCBD, weejuns, etc) I'd rock the penny.
2. It will be a fine line though between rackish and costume, so everything else needs to be current, classic and subtle. It's similar to the rule of wearing only 1 vintage piece of gear at time. When in doubt remove the penny.

Start With Typewriters
No penny

I've never been a fan of the penny. I prefer a cleaner more simpler look. Last but not least I'm usually so poor I'd need to put that penny towards something else rather than my loafers.

If you wanna rock the penny though power to you. I'm sure you can pull it off and it will look dapper. just not for this guy, not my style.

Street Etiquette
It's all personal preference my brother. Sometimes I slip mine in and other times, I rather not depending on how I feel and my outfit.

To each his own I would say.

The Bengal Stripe
1) It's entirely up to the wearer. Personally I haven't bothered with pennies in a long time.
2) As a kid, my father made me wear my Weejuns to Sunday Mass every week and to most family gatherings. Whenever I got a new pair, the first thing he'd do is stick pennies in the saddle for good luck. If my dad wanted to put pennies in a pair of my loafers now, I'd probably let him, but I'd feel weird if I did it myself. It's like wishing yourself good luck, which there isn't anything particularly wrong with; it just feels weird to me.

I'd say if you want pennies, go for it; and if you're not sure, just try it out and see how it looks. If you're someone who particularly needs some good luck, it wouldn't hurt.

The Momentum of Failure
My vote is for both but each with a different meaning.

I would say go with the penny when the occasion calls. Say a night out with an elegant lady or to the theatre. However, if you're going to rock a pair of weejuns on the dock with some seersucker shorts or rolled chinos, ditch the penny, lest you risk it falling into the deep blue sea.

The Natural Aristocrat
I typically go sans penny. No real reasoning behind it, I just don't really accessorize too much. However, I was once given advice on the coining of the loafer by a much more wealthy and refined person than myself, who interestingly enough suggested using a quarter to really up the dandification levels of the shoe.

The Selvage Yard (Eli Getson)
I love the Bass Weejun, but you have to have balls rock the penny and look correct. I would say no penny, and wear that brown to a patina.

The Trad
1- No Penny
2- I'm outta high school

The Windmill Club
1. No penny.

2. I'm all about the classic look of a sockless pair of weejuns. Adding an actual penny into the mix makes it a bit too much of a trad costume for my tastes. Look timeless; not anachronistic.

Thighs Bigger Than Your Head
Personally, I have not worn pennies in my loafers since I was about 7 years old.  That's not to say that it couldn't be cool, I just haven't given it too much thought.  I just kind of assumed that actual pennies in the shoes is a hyper-preppy thing to do.  If I ever do put pennies in, I'll probably source some that were minted during significant years in my life.

Unabashedly Prep
For what it's worth, I wear pennies in my penny loafers. It fits my personality...existing within a uniform yet making it your own with the details.

I suggest to do what makes you feel comfortable, but I personally wouldn't do it.

Young Man/Old Man
1. High school and younger: yes. College or older: no.
2. It seems like a really young/cutsie type thing that would work on a
young kid or a hardcore prep in high school. College might be pushing
it, you would need to be ultra prep in my opinion. Older than that and
I really don't feel it. I haven't since I was 6, and then I guess it
was my mom doing it for me. I'm all for whimsy but this seems to push
it into a whole other level.

[You Have Broken The Internet]
I'm a no penny man.

One trend that I noticed based on the answers that I received was that most of the older gentleman were against adding the penny while most of younger guys were for it. I guess the over saturation of the preppy movement in the early 80s left some bloggers with the feeling that some things should stay in the past while others take the position that the past can inspire us today.  I would love to explore this trend in the near future.

At the end of the day, I'll probably leave the penny out most of the time but slip them in every now and then. I already preselected a few pennies with the birth year of my children as well as my own that I will proudly wear when the mood strikes me. I simply love these shoes not only because they are good looking but because they allow me to be a part of history. Almost everyone that you meet has worn a pair of penny loafers with pennies in them at one time or another and this is definitely something that I want to pass on to my children. So whether you take a penny or leave a penny, the result should be the same: wear them with pride and wear them out.

a time to get

I would like to thank everyone who participated in this little social experiment. 


  1. If this doesn't get you on Valet I don't know what will.

  2. What an excellent job.I do agree with your summation. Especially " wear them with pride and wear them out" Thank you for this post.

  3. So that's what you were up to. Cool idea.

  4. Great shoes! You are on my blog


  5. Could this make it any clearer that these "trad/preppy/WASP" blogs are anything more than one huge circle jerk of insecure people desperately needing approval? "Hey, dude, do I look cool?" Pathetic.

  6. Wow. Quite the extensive who's who of the Prep-o-sphere.

  7. I say with pennies! Sans penny and people may Q whether one is a prepster, with penny and they KNOW it. Happy trails!


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  9. Great post Alex. Thanks for the inclusion.

    Congrats on the Valet mention.

  10. Trippyfratt,
    hillarious observation.

  11. Awesome lineup Skip, thanks for the inclusion.

  12. To quote jimmy Buffett, or probably misquote him, "I got quarters in my loafers, tryin' to fight inflation"

  13. They're not called don't-wear-with-a-penny loafers for a reason. Let them live. Let them do what they were meant to do.

    Does anyone have a penny? Oh wait, I have TWO!!!!!!

  14. geez, brain fart... thx Skip i meant... thx to alex too... keep working on the train tracks...

  15. I rock the pennies. I guess because they are called penny loafers and that's what I thought was correct.

  16. I wonder if the guys in the Knickerbocker lockerooms ask each other if they're jock straps are "waspy" enough? The great truth is that if you have to ask, you aren't.

  17. great idea. It was interesting to see what everyone had to say.

  18. Nice post. I'd say pennies, but try to find the silver ones issued around WWII.

  19. hey yo - this post was my inspiration in that i needed to get me some used/cheap ass pennys off of ebay! which i did - and i've been wearing them for 2 weeks now and i can say only... THANK YOU!!! they are great! I found some Dexters made in the USA and they rock - the sole is full leather and ready to rip it up - they even gripped when i had to help a lady push her car out of the parking lot this week. - i've tossed my Clarks aside for at least part of the week (so the stink will die)... thanks for the post...

  20. I love this post! I actually wear loafers pretty regularly, but the pennies always (ALWAYS) slip out.

    One of my followers suggested using a 1 GBP instead. Functional and awesome.

  21. I have sacajawea dollars in them. This way I am never totally broke!

  22. steel pennies or nickels in black weejuns and shiny coppers in cordovans. been rockin that way since 77...

  23. I love Trinidad de Tobago pennies in my Weejuns.They are thinner and slip in easy.Also wear them with white socks and crush the backs down.Weejun penny loafers turn me on.John >

  24. My friend this such a nice and really informative post for me and others to work out and i want to thanks for that great post. wedge sneakers online