Loafers or penny loafers are low, leather
shoes whose tops resemble
moccasin, but have broad
heels. They first appeared
in the mid 1930's. They have no
buckles. Penny loafers
are made of leather and are often worn in formal situations.
The men's fashion and lifestyle magazine Esquire photographed
dairy farmers in Norway wearing slip-on shoes around the
cattle loafing area (where dairy cows gather to await milking).
American lumber and leather interests owned by the Spaulding
family in New Hampshire started making loafers based on
these photographs in about 1932 or 1933 - naming them loafers.
They were also called ponies by some - often women would
slip a foot out of one shoe and rest their toes on the counter
(back) thus appeared to be standing as a pony often will
with one leg resting on the very tip of its hoof. In 1934
John R. Bass (a bootmaker in Wilton, Maine) started making
loafers and called them Weejuns (meant to sound like Norwegian).
These had a strap across the upper part of the vamp that
was shaped like a pair of lips (said to be John's wife,
Alice Bass, kissing each shoe on its way out the door).
The mouth opening soon was used to hold an ornamentation
- perhaps a penny and thus penny loafers became a style.
Penny loafers often held a dime instead of a penny. If a
girl's date got out of line she could call home on a pay
phone--which accepted dimes during most of the fifties and
Loafers are worn by both sexes, though more often by
men. Women's penny loafers also have many different styles.
Wearing socks with loafers depends on the fashion trends
of the time.