Crockett & Jones ‘Harvard’ loafers: Review

Wednesday, November 10th 2021
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I’ve always recommended Crockett & Jones to readers over the years, as a solid, good-value English shoe. But I’ve only briefly owned a pair.

I had some when I was in my twenties, but bought the wrong size - so sold them within a few weeks. This pair of Harvard loafers, which I’ll review today, is therefore my first proper experience of Crockett’s.

I bought the Harvard model because I was interested in trying a more Ivy style of loafer, with its longer apron and higher ‘wall’ at the front of the toe.

The classic American penny, basically, which Crockett’s was the first to introduce into the UK, back in the 1940s (1952 catalogue below - blue suede!).

I have Alden LHS loafers in this style already, but only in suede.

I wear those very casually – with chinos, with jeans, even with shorts – and hadn’t thought that I’d wear a leather version, as I usually prefer a slimmer shoe for that (like my Aberdeen-last full-straps).

It’s early days, but I’m finding that I like this Ivy style most with casual chinos, like my old Armoury ones shown in these images. This is very much the ‘workwear’ style of chino. With a smarter chino like those from Rubato, I usually prefer my slimmer loafers.

Basically, I like to smarten up casual clothing.

That usually means wearing slim shoes like a suede Belgravia, even with white jeans. But when everything else is very casual, like beaten-up chinos and an oxford, a cordovan penny loafer is a stylish way to do it.

(And of course, finding ways to smarten up casual clothing is very much the order of the day. When others are in a hoodie, wear a shawl cardigan; when they’re in Converse, wear pennies.)

But onto the shoes themselves.

I’ve been very pleased with the quality here, although it turns out that might be because the Harvard is more similar to the Hand Grade line of Crockett’s shoes than the main line.

Chatting to James Fox from Crockett’s, he explained that they use oak-bark tanned soles from Rendenbach on their cordovan shoes, because they find they’re a better partner for that tough upper material. And otherwise those soles are only used in the Handgrade line.

A loafer style like this also has a hand-sewn apron – one of the few jobs that Crockett’s still outsources workers at home (“I know some like doing it in front of Strictly,” James said with a laugh) - so there’s an extra level of craft.

The only remaining difference between these and a Hand Grade shoe is the lack of a channelled sole (shown above).

So this is perhaps best seen as a review of the Hand Grade and cordovan Crocketts shoes, rather than the range in general.

The other point worth making on quality is that cordovan from Horween doesn’t really vary, unlike grades of calf leather from a single tannery. So the quality of the upper here is the same as you’d get from a more expensive brand, or indeed from a bespoke maker.

That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for a John Lobb or Edward Green shoe to be pricier – as a reader put to me recently – because there’s a lot more to a shoe than the upper. But it’s one point that’s consistent.

On cordovan generally, makers I speak to always say that Horween is the best, consistently. I haven’t tried other producers myself, but brands have many times, and that’s always their conclusion.

Among shoes in Horween cordovan, the only difference worth noting is that Alden recolours some of its supply before using it. That’s why Color 8 often looks darker from Alden.

If the Harvard had been in Color 8, it would have made me think twice, because I really like that Alden shade. But there’s less of a difference with other colours, like my mid-brown.

The only thing you do get with lighter colours of cordovan, is natural variation between skins. (Not surprising really, given the very hands-on way that Horween stains them.)

My pair is lighter than the ones shown on the Crockett’s website. Which I prefer, and was a reason I chose them, but is also an argument for buying in person if you can.

I’ve found my Harvards very comfortable, which I think is partly down to the fact they’re unlined, unlike my Aldens. (The LHS is half lined, just in the back, and the full-strap loafer is fully lined.)

Cordovan is always a tough material to wear in, and being unlined helps that happen more quickly and easily.

A downside, though, is that the uppers lose shape more easily, turning up at the toes after wearing. This is absolutely fine if you use shoe trees in them, and also isn’t a problem if you forget to do so for a few days (as I did on holiday recently). But I heavily recommend using trees when you can.

The other reason the Harvards are particularly comfortable is that I sized up – from the 8.5E I usually wear to a 9E.

This was for two reasons. One, I wear more casual, thicker socks in general these days, but particularly with these loafers. They’ll often be worn with off-white Ivy-style socks or something similar.

And two, I think over the years I’ve tended to prioritise fit at the back of the shoe too much, rather than the front.

As readers will be tired of hearing, I have a slightly ‘spade-shaped’ foot, with a narrow ankle and wide toes. This makes loafers difficult to fit: a shoe that is wide enough at the front is too big at the heel, causing it to slip when I walk.

On balance, I’ve tended to get the right fit for the heel, and put up with closeness at the front. But I think that might have been wrong, because it’s easier to put a half sock in the back of the shoe, or use a tongue pad, than it is to try and stretch the front of the shoe.

It’s not a big issue, and doesn’t make any of my older shoes less wearable. But when combined with the use of thicker socks, it was a good reason to size up here.

Interestingly, James also said that 2019 was the first year in Crockett’s history that a loafer was the top seller.

As mentioned earlier, they've been selling American-style loafers since the 40s - above is the earliest catalogue they have showing the style, from 1952. But the oxford has always been the most popular.

In 2019 it was overtaken the Sydney, which is an elongated penny loafer. And the Boston loafer in brown suede was number three. That’s perhaps not surprising, given how more casual things have become more generally, but it does mean this article has particular relevance.

I’ve historically always preferred Alden cordovan, and Edward Green for my calf loafers. But for this colour (not Color 8) and style (classic American penny), I’m very happy with Crockett’s instead.

The Harvard loafer is made in dark-brown cordovan, on the 314 last, which is known for being generous in its fitting. The Harvard is unlined and costs £640. 

The Harvard 2 is on a different last, the 376, which has a slimmer heel, and is made in dark-brown suede. Fortunately I didn't need the slimmer heel, though it could have been helpful for my foot shape. It has a rubber sole and costs £370, reflecting the cost of both cordovan and the oak-bark sole. 

Both are evolutions of the more famous Boston model, which is also made on the 314 last, in a range of calf leathers and suedes. It costs £375.

Photography: Jamie Ferguson. Shirt shown is a white PS Oxford

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T.

Great review once again, Simon. Does sizing up mean they’ll be a bit more loose when you wear thin socks (or no-show socks)? Do you normally wear 8.5E in other RTW loafers?

P.A.

Hi Simon,

Great article, I reckon you’ll get a few comments on the white socks, which I love.

Timing is also great as I have decided to add a leather penny loafer to my collection, preferably in black.
Regarding the styling, I am looking for something versatile, to wear with jeans/chinos and white socks as well as flannels (maybe even very casual suits) to the office, thus I was thinking of an almond toe shape (not too round, not too pointy) and a lower vamp. What is your opinion on this ?

I have found a French brand making a loafer matching those criteria, as I like to try the shoes in person, and this style of loafer is not as popular in France. link to the shoes : https://malfroid.com/shop/loafers-mocassins/rond/new-mocassin-newport-veau-noir-forme-275/
I feel like they look a bit like a low-vamp Alden full-strap

P.A.

When talking about black loafers and jeans, I was thinking about your article on the joys of cordovan, where you wear raw denim with your Alden full-strap loafers, which almost look black in the pictures. Is it (as always) the pictures not being a true reflection of what the shoes look like in the flesh, or is it the subtle nuances in the cordovan that make it more casual thus suited to be worn with denim ?

P.A.

Noted, thanks. I’ve seen that Malfroid plans to release a cordovan loafer on that last. might take a look

Robin

Simon, thanks for letting P.A. add that link to his comment.

Might I suggest an article where people send you such links ?
One of things I’ve really appreciated is learning of some of the unique retailers around the world that I’ve got to know through P.S. and it’s readers.

Over the years I’ve picked up Spier & McKay , Kafka, Dicks of Edinburgh , Natalino , Luxire …. To name but afew

P.A.

Perhaps a periodical article, much like your “autumn/winter top 10”, but as a collection from readers recommandations, would be interesting as a way to cover brands across the whole PS base

Daniel

How about the black grain loafer from Morjas?

AK

Black grain will still seem fairly sharp – more of a flannels or tailored corduroys casual rather than a jeans casual.
I’ve got a pair of the Morjas loafers in burgundy grain and they look and feel nice but are surprisingly stiff. It’s been a while and they still don’t feel quite broken in. Just my two cents.

Max

Hi Simon,
nice read – excellent photos! Really like how you wear loafers with cream/white socks. Also in the Donegal coat article. It’s somehow bold but not flashy, I guess…
My CJs took a long time to wear in. Now they are one of the most comfortable shoes I own. I think the 314 style can look a bit dated with smarter clothes, so I’d rather combine them with jeans and chinos as well.
Have a great day

Robin

I’ve always found Crocketts to be being my budget and therefore drilled for Cheaney, and, more recently Loake .
On that note is it even worth paying more for the Crocketts ?
Over what period would I benefit from the unique points of a Crockett over a Cheaney or a Cheaney over a Loake ?
After reading PS I’m glad I moved out of normal high street, glued sole, disposable shoes to Goodyear welted Cheaney and Loake .

Ben

I’ve never owned Cheaneys and Loakes but in a head to head comparison C&J’ calf uppers do not compare favorably with those of, say, Meermin, which are half the price and more durable while maybe marginally tougher to the touch. Meermins with leather soles are mostly if not always closed-channel, they offer Horweens sporadically on an MTO basis, and I prefer their lasts to C&J’.
But Meermin’s make is rougher and their customer service in the U.S. is pretty horrible (unless you speak Spanish maybe).

Andras

Hello Simon great article, and beautiful loafers. I like a lot styling of Crockett shoes, especially loafers. But what sopping me from it is plastic heel stiffeners. For sure in regular line, no idea about top line. Do you know about this particular model. Thanks

Andras

Thanks Simon,

And

Really? Right now the only “good” shoes I have are from Meermin, and they are already very expensive in my social circle. They are definitely not perfect, with slightly uneven stitching and stuff like that, but they would probably work fine for me, if not for the plastic heel stiffener which kills my foot and makes the shoes super hard to break in.
That was really the main reason I might go upmarket when I can…and now I find that shoes double (or even triple) the price, often reputed the standard of quality at realistically attainable prices, do not even improve such a key aspect?
I mean, TLB Artista even uses *real* leather stiffeners for similar prices, actually often less. It strikes me as very odd they use plastic for their top line, not even leather board.

mart

hi simon, great writeup as always!. can you comment on last shape relative to alden’s van last? I have shallow feet and always struggle to find well-fitting loafers. in this regard, alden’s van is ideal for me. but i like c&j’ harvard, too – just being uncertain as to how thy fit precisely (no c&j retailer in my region for fitting….)

Con

This is great, some really useful info. I have done the same, buying a size that is too tight at the front so it fits better at the heel and hoping that over time and with wearing that it will loosen and become roomier at the front. The truth is that this has not been good for my feet and I’ve stopped wearing them. Remembering now when I’ve tried on shoes and the right shoe fits perfectly while the left is too loose because my left foot is smaller and have put them back I think I’ll take tongue pads or heel pads when buying my next pair of shoes.
Sadly, when I last went around all the Northumberland shoemakers to buy a pair of shoes, when I mentioned this no solution was suggested.
Very useful to know about the same shoe in a slimmer last. Fit is now my first and over-riding priority. On this, is it the case that American shoemakers seem to offer wider options of the same shoe moreso than in Europe and has this always been the case? I’d love to be able to have the choice of a wider shoe at the front rather than sizing up if it’s possible.

Con

Didn’t realise this, so will ask for now I know, thanks.

Con

Just to add, the insight into the materials and construction and how they compare is great. Knowing this really helps to see how great the value is for what you are getting. Lovely to know that skills are being kept alive locally with homeworkers doing some of the work too

Peter Hall

My basic advice ,when I was an elder statesman in my last role, was always ‘stop buying x times rtw and save for a two pairs of Crockett’ -a pair of Oxfords and a loafer. Absolute best investment.

Mohammad R

I purchased a pair of these last year. I find them to be incredibly versatile. Beyond just chinos I find they also pair well with mid grey wool trousers but I’m not sure what your opinion on that would be? In general I’ve found loafers to be the most versatile shoes I own but then again I rarely have the opportunity to wear a suit. Most of my wardrobe is smart trousers/Oxford shirts/polos

Chris K

Hey Simon, great review.

The universe works in mysterious ways. I’m not joking or exaggerating, literally last night I was browsing Crockett’s penny offerings, telling myself I’ll invest in a pair of Harvard 2’s in Dark suede for next summer. Followed by watching you and James Eden discuss the mythical beast that is the Donegal.
‘And of course, finding ways to smarten up casual clothing is very much the order of the day. When others are in a hoodie, wear a shawl cardigan; when they’re in Converse, wear pennies.’
Sorry to quote the whole sentence, but I had to do it justice, as it’s the gospel that I, along with most readers I’m sure, am reading from right now.

I’m planning to be in NYC early next year, and have every intention of stopping by Alden Madison. In particular, I have the 986 in colour 8 in mind. Strictly for the same purposes as you’ve described, casual side of things, dressing up what is now my everyday. All I wear at the minute is boots, which are ‘my thing’ and are still the default, but loafers would be a nice option going forward.

The one thing that bugged me about cordovan pennies (this doesn’t seem to be such a problem with suede, perhaps due to the weight of the upper?), is that I see both 10 year old pairs looking phenomenal, all the usual patina and rumpling, wrapping the foot perfectly, while some others I see where the toe has just lifted completely. To my eye, it spoils the line of a shoe like this that already has soft lines around the toe, so it ends up looking square, no shape. Maybe some people want this look? Cool, but I personally prefer the clean lines. I didn’t realise that the ones that retained that lovely shape, probably had shoe trees in them at all times when not being worn. So thank you for sharing that. I thought a toe tap/ metal tip was the only option to prevent this, but thought it might be a bit silly on a casual shoe like this, if shoe trees would suffice?

Really lovely shape on these Harvards, and you do them great justice as ever. Something really special about unlined cordovan.

Ps. the 1952 Crockett’s catalogue shot is wicked, lovely touch.

Ck

Chris K

Thanks Simon,

Absolutely regards the shoe trees, appreciate that.

My point with the toe tap – It was my understanding that having a metal toe tap secured on the toe of the sole (Only one pair of shoes I have has them, a pair of Edward green Picadilly’s) prevented the toe curling/lifting? Maybe I have that wrong altogether.

I know, amazing, the other 3 on the list are the usual suspects, then the blue suede comes in, last on the list with flashing lights!

Chris K

I think it’s just my misunderstanding of the purpose of toe taps. Glad I raised the point now or I’d likely have continued to think that.

Thanks Simon,
Ck

PB

I’d ahead to the Alden store. They’re often low on loafer/Indy boot stock, and it takes them a couple three weeks to order them in.

PB

*call* ahead that is, sorry

Chris K

Thank you sir!

jack

Hi Simon,
As my granddaughters tell me, “Granpa, just save your clothes and every thirty years you will be in style.” I wore GH Bass “weejuns” in the fifties, the penny loafer of Ivy fame. And with white socks (with dress pants as well as chinos) but the socks were heavy wool, not cotton, The loafers had added style if they were very worn and loose to the point where they slipped off at the heel when one was seated. To be hung from the toes as it were. Very fifties, indeed. The white socks then went out of fashion as looking too much like a farmer from Kansas in his Sunday black suit with white socks. And now the socks are back, on a Brit no less. Well done. (And you certainly don’t look like a farmer from Kansas.) A great lesson on the cyclical nature of clothing styles.

Peter Hall

Falke make very comfy wool socks ,Simon. They have a lovely Pearl sock, but it’s not 100% wool. However, they are really comfy inside loafers.

Wouter de Clerck

Inspired by this article I popped in at the excellent local socks&stockings shop in Leiden (established in 1953!) to see if they could satisfy my Ivy-needs. The lovely ladies there had picked up on the trend (or still remembered it from their younger years) but did not have off-white ribbed socks on offer. Fortunately, I did find a sand-coloured, woolen pair of ribbed socks that wear very comfortably (probably the wool) and emulate the Ivy-style quite nicely.

Peter Hall

Wouter
Look on the Peek and Cloppenberg webstore(search under white) – they have plenty of variety. I bought my Falke from the store in Rotterdam.

Wouter de Clerck

Thanks, Peter. I used to live in Rotterdam and must visit again soon, if only for the off-white Falke socks.

Hugh

I have a pair of Harvards in chestnut which have become a lovely rosewood color through wear and polish. I like the last shape, the stitching on the toe and heel, and the less prominent welt relative to the Van lasted alternative.

Gabriele

Hi Simon, where is the belt in the second picture from? Thanks!

Petronio

Simon, thanks for the precise and helpful description. I am considering to invest on a good loafer and am struggling among Alden cordovan full strap, C&J and Edward Green Piccadily. Alden probably does not fit well since I have a wide feet and high instep. EG seems to have a very limited offer on cordovan and in calf is pricier than C&J in cordovan. So the latest seems the right choice.
I did not get from the article whether the Harvard is now replaced by the Harvard 2 or they offer both.
I like the white socks (I know we are on a permanent style mode but these days are very trendy)

RTK

In the early1960’s we would wear Adler brand white wool socks with our penny loafers. They would “yellow” a bit even after careful laundering and air drying.

REUVEN L LAX

Your comment about the soles is an interesting one. I’ve owned several pairs of C&J (standard line) and compared to my more-expensive shoes, the C&Js have always worn out far more quickly (sometimes there was little actual cost savings with the C&J since I had to send them back to the factory so often for a resole!). The fact that these loafers have the hand-grade sole maybe makes them a better buy.

fredrik

Thanks for a great article, as always – I really appreciate the details and accuracy.
I have tried a lot of different loafers over the years but never C&J, unfortunaly I often find them little uncomfortable when it comes to derbys and chukkas (I have a very narrow ankle). But these looks very nice, and if I understand it right also very comfortable – so maybe worth a try!
But my question is – have you any experience from J.M. Weston 180 Loafer? they are in same price range and I like the style much, but I dont know much about them – quality, stitching, details and so on. If you look at the homepage it is of course good, but that dont says everything! or maybe other people at the forum have any experiences? my impression is that they are more common in the french speaking area.

Thanks
//Fredrik

Paul

I second Simon on quality, having bought my last pair of 180 loafers 2 years ago. They can be resoled at the factory if beaten up – my 65yo father still visits construction sites and climbs on scaffolds and Parisian roofs with them. JM Weston and the 180 loafer are very well-known in France and francophone Africa.
That said, I would kindly suggest not to buy them online Fredrik. The 180 sizing seems quite different from even the JM Weston mainline (for me by a full size and by a width, according to their salespeople).

Jonathan

Hi Simon,
Sounds like we have similarly shaped feet. Mine certainly prefer the comfort of a rounder toe with wiggle room. As such, might this Harvard be more suitable for me than, say, an EG Piccadilly, which looks much slimmer?
You mention that you sold a pair of C&Js years back. I have a pair of Loakes that I’m tempted to shift; my feet have never really agreed with them and they get very little wear. Is there somewhere you can recommend for the sale of second-hand classic shoes/garb? I have never done this, as anything I might have sold has been of low value. Plus I always fear that it’ll be more hassle than it’s worth – in every sense.
With thanks,
Jonathan

Georgios

One of the most interesting articles of the last months becausw i have already 4 pairs of c&j and they are all very good shoes. Im not so rich as some readers nor do i have so many clothes like you to compare them with pricier or bespoke ones, but as long as i wear them daily i am really pleased with them. May i suggest another loafer pair from them ?
https://eu.crockettandjones.com/collections/mens-main-collection/products/cavendish-black-calf-city
They are black but get really well with some jeans and also grey flannels. I think some chinos also pair good cause if worm with a t-shirt or an easy shirt they make a really fun look.

Yosef777

Oi, feet off the furniture mate!
Albeit, those are quite nice loafers : ) Am I to understand that c&j have a tannery that does their cordovan specific for them?

Joe Pickering

I thought for years that white socks were the antithesis of style, or only wearable by 20-something hipsters going for a look. But seeing and reading about them in this kind of context recently – mainly from you but also from others – made me reassess my preconceptions: almost always only healthy when it comes to style (and most other things). I bought some of the Uniqlo ones you recommended, Simon, and wore them for the first time just the other day. I was surprised how uncontroversial I found them whenever I looked down at my feet! It’s probably the ‘offness’ of the white; as you say, they’re very obviously not a sport sock.

Where do you stand on chukka/desert boots and Ivy style, and with white socks? Loafers get mentioned all the time, naturally, but Ivy is a big part of the Drake’s look and desert boots are arguably their ‘in house’ shoe style. Anglo have done their own range too, though perhaps they’re much less Ivy generally. And in the book Hollywood and the Ivy Look, the authors call Steve McQueen’s outfits in Bullit arguably the most influential Ivy look in the history of cinema; I think he wore chukkas throughout that.

Sam

I generally wear loafers and so have a number of Crockett and Aldens. I find myself not wearing my Boston’s (in brown country grain) because they are actually too slim for the exact situations that you have described as wearing these for. I’m not sure if it’s just my foot size to build/height ratio (size 10, 5ft10 and stocky), but they are considerably more elegant than an Alden LHS and I don’t feel they work with t shirts or flat front chinos in the way the LHS do. It’s a shame as it’s a very well made shoe in a classic style, and I love the country grain as well as it’s good for winter and gives it a more casual air. I think I’m going to get a penny loafer made up in brown country grain but on their 72 last which is wider in the body (and the one Anglo Italian uses for their Crockett loafers).

Samuel

Great article! Do you have any thoughts on Baudoin and Lange’s new range of boots?

Michael

Thanks for the great article Simon, very timely as I am looking at buying these exact shoes! I am tossing up though between this colour and a whiskey cordovan. Do you think there would be a difference on which colour is more versatile? I will wear with chinos, light and dark denim and possibly with light to mid grey wool trousers.
Many thanks
Michael

Nick

Hello Simon, I’m glad to finally see you in a pair of Crocketts! They have been my go to maker for years. I suffer from a similar affliction of ‘heel slippage’ to you, and from the outset luckily stumbled into a C&J last that works for me. I’ve experimented with other lasts and makers since, but seem to have found a winning formula with C&J’s excellent MTO programme meaning I can get hand grade construction and materials in the styles, leather, and last I like for a price not too much more than Edward Green RTW.

Timofey

Hi Simon. I strongly disagree that Horween Cordovan doesn’t vary much . I own silvano Lattanzi Cordovan and C&J Cordovan. All Cordovan are from Horween but quality is just like from different planets ))). Lattanzi Cordovan is much much more better quality in Cordovan than C&j , Alden etc. I think they buy much more quality part of horse skin )))

Timofey

I think they just using different part of horse membrane

Anon

This review is a pleseant surprise as I‘ve had the Harvard in my sight for some time as a casual loafer.

Do these wear as comfortable as the unlined Aldens?

I‘ve got the same unlined suede Alden LHS and wear the heck out of them as they are as comfortable as a boat shoe but with a dressier appereance. Might be my most comfortable shoe. I also have the Cordovan LHS but although I‘ve worn them quite some time they are still hard as a rock and the heel gives me blisters and hence stay in my closet most of times. (Plus they look a lot chunkier than the unlined suede loafers even though they‘re made on the same last.)

I also own the C&J Boston in Black and wear them frequently with a navy suit to the office but the last is a bit snug. Fine for office days but not as comfortable as the unlined Aldens during longer walks.

I was hoping the Harvard would be similar to the unlined LHS?

MBB355

Where do you recommend buying cream/off-white over-calf socks from? I’ve had trouble finding a pair.

Nico

Berg & Berg were offering them nowadays. Wool. Good experience with other colours.

Steve Deal

Simon, I really love your reviews, especially upon shoes, so I was excited to see your piece here.

Here in the States it is rare to see medium to dark brown Horween cordovan, especially if not named ravello or cigar. Even those two are only found on deep multiyear waiting lists. So good on you and C&J for reviewing this model.

Of course, a price over $900 for a pair of such cordovan loafers would necessarily force a comparison here with the color 8 van unlined Aldens. As you did. I own and revere that pair just as you do, as well as the brown suede LHS, in addition to a tobacco pair in the plaza last.

The way you describe the nuances between the lasts of the Alden, C&J, and others is quite commendable. I only wish I had your latest advice before purchasing all these loafers plus the Cleverelys made bespoke.

I would only add: is the slightly less rounded last of the C&J as well as its relatively rare (in the US) brown cordovan worth the extra $300 plus? I would say: yes, if I had not already invested so much in other models, and especially now with the additional knowledge of the handiwork of the leather doles. What a credit you are to UK borne workmanship and style. That color of brown is extremely rare here. Well worth the variations involved, and in my view, all the more valuable.

Cheers, Steve

Alexander

I absolutely love my Harvard 2. I bought it this year to wear at the end of summer and it was invaluable. Used C&J online measuring instructions and after sending them the measurements they recommended 8.5 E in most lasts, except for unlined shoes like the Harvard 2.

First time I wore them was to campsite wedding in Northern California with linen trousers. I find they are fantastic with jeans, and casual trousers (linen, flannel, cotton). Though I find the welt a bit to pronounced to wear with anything too sleek or formal. C&J was right about sizing, as now I’d say they are just about the most comfortable pair of shoes I own. I think the most formal I’d go with them is separates.

Interestingly enough, I loved this unlined shoe enough that I wanted another, but in black suede. I got a special order via the New York store (by the way – much better deal for anyone in the US than going the normal special order route – and Rene is an absolute joy to work with. Called me when my order arrived and was shipped, and then again about a week after to see how I liked the shoes and that everything was good).

In any case I got the Solent in black suede (same last as Harvard 2 – which is the same toe as Harvard with slimmer back, which i find fits me well). However, the Solent I’d be willing to try and wear with a casual suit, it seems sleeker (I suspect it’s because the welt is cut closer to the shoe). I should also note that since it is also unlined, after about two weeks of wear it is quickly becoming my second most comfortable shoe.

Nick

Alexander, I second your recommendation of the New York shop – have been dealing with Rene and Kevin forever, and nothing but good things to say about them.

Gary

I think I have, embarrassingly, over 20 pair of C&J shoes (including loafers) from both their main line and Hand Grade line although the Boston and Cavendish Loafers seem to be my ‘go to’ for loafers at the moment; after years of solid wear the Sidney and a hand grade pair on 337 (name escapes me) started feeling too smart for the new casual world. Evidence I know points to the opposite but I’m not a ‘one make’ man, its just living out of UK (in Africa) I don’t often get the chance to visit the other good shoe brands to try on, I wear C&J (of course I rate them very highly) as much because I know they fit and the great relationship I have with one of their London store managers proving again that good service goes such a long way. As a day to day affordable shoe I don’t think anyone can go wrong with C&J shoes. Never tried their cordovan though so thanks Simon, I must give them a try now.

Dario

I own both the cordovan and the brown suede models, the suede model was excruciating to break in but now they are like slippers. The cordovan was even fast to break in in contrast with the other.
I use them on a wide variety of settings, as I find them to look well with suits unless you are really wearing them as business attire.

JoshuaMN

Nice article Simon,
It’s funny how you suddenly notice trends in the real world. I’ve been aware penny loafers have very much been back ‘in’ with the Instagram-menswear crowd for a few years now, along with Belgian-style slippers to accompany their patch pocket Neopolitan suits.
However, it really hit home when I was walking around west London yesterday – despite the fact it’s now December at the weather was awful, pretty much every well-to-do young guy in a jacket from Marylebone to Soho was wearing a penny loafer.
It does make me wonder which shoe is going to have something of a revival next?
Whilst I still have a soft spot for a dark brown C&J brogue, brogues themselves seem to have suffered an image crisis with all the paper-thin bright orange high street copies.
We also had that bizarre monk strap craze (that suddenly vanished) a few years back. I can only think perhaps the split-toe derby or the chukka boot will be casual enough for today’s crowd?

REUVEN L LAX

This amuses me slightly, since in the distant past boots were definitely more formal (in fact low-cut “Oxford” shoes were a bit scandalous at one point). However the world has long since changed.

Matt H

Tassel loafers have been something of a trend in menswear for a while now, and it struck me how mainstream they must be when I noticed a child’s version for sale in a supermarket.

Misbah

Although I agree about the monkstrap craze, it was also good to have another style which was mainstream and acceptable. Once you’ve got your basics and staying at that price point it was another versatile option.

Simon Thomas

Simon – take your feet off the furniture!

Jon

There’s a word missing from this sentence ‘On cordovan generally, makers I speak to always that Horween is the best,’

P.F.

Hi Simon. Lovely post as usual. I really like the Ivy combination. I don’t know if I could pull off the white socks though. I think that is a bridge too far for a 40 year old, in my opinion.
One question, what is your opinion about the loafers (mocassins) of the French iconic brand JM Weston? They are certainly a favourite of the editors at L’Etiquette. Was wondering your opinion about it.

P.F.

Thanks Simon! And sorry for repeating the question. I admire your patience.

David

Hi Simon,

Interesting and useful post.

I would like to know your view on the same loafer style but split toe (Norwegian). Is it still considered an Ivy loafer? Does it have the same use?

I oen a pair from Carmina but I think Alden also offers split toe loafers.

Thank you and best regards,

Matt S

As an American, if I wanted an American-style loafer, is there any reason to go for the Harvard over a shoe from Alden?

Matt H

These look really nice, and that’s a great shade of cordovan. The main thing that can put me offer many C&J and other somewhat lower-end loafers is the low SPI along the apron. The two rows are often wide apart too. This can look a little clunky. I had actually assumed it wasn’t done by hand, but now I know different.

Drew

Oh, Simon. I wish you had written this a few weeks ago. I fear I made the same mistake you did on your first pair and bought the wrong size. Mine are a half size too small. I didn’t realize the 314 last ran so short. Any advice on making them more comfortable?
Nevertheless, thank you for another great article.

Drew

Thanks, Simon. I’ll check in with my cobbler. It’s definitely a length issue and not a width one.

Dudley Marks

Allen Edmonds, without the crumpled vamp under the saddle. Every width imaginable( a thing of the past; shoes that fit properly in AAA to EE widths) and at 60% of the price.
I spent many years in the shoe business, working for manufacturers that combined style, comfort and fit. A&E still adheres to that mission. I did not work for A&E and am not on their payroll.

REUVEN L LAX

I have also heard cobblers (who regularly are repairing and see the interior) say that AE quality has gone down in recent years. All hearsay of course.

Ametorist

Working loafers effectively into a casual wardrobe has such great rewards, but getting the combos right requires some trial and error. I owned a pair of dark green suede Italian loafers with contrasting moc toe stitching in a slimmer shape and leather sole. They worked great with more formal chinos or with any outfit at a summer wedding, but the sleekness and color didn’t pair well with work wear style chinos or denim. I moved on to a pair of nubuck loafers in black, in a more classic penny shape with accentuated beef rolls and a high front wall and tonal moc toe stitch. These worked better, but the slim leather sole still didn’t hold up that well to highly textured trousers. I had them resoled with Dainite with a nice stacked heel, and now they are absolutely perfect. So much so that I doubled down with the same pair in brown, and had those resoled with a tonal wedge sole. Between these two pairs of loafers, I can always be the guy a step above Converse without looking like I should be at a country club cocktail party. They also go great with shorts in the summer.

Mo

Have had these for 3 or so years now. Have resoled once. They have worn in beautifully and are probably my go-to shoe. Also bought the whisky harvard II earlier this year, but it gets less wear than the brown.

Jon Chivers

I’ve got the Harvard, Boston and hand grade Suede Cadogan , beautiful shoes and very comfortable.

Lynn H Pierson

I find the Sydney to be a great value, and I like the City Rubber sole.

Russ

I enjoy looking at the stylish C & J range, especially in the window of their Burlington Arcade shop, but their shoes never seem to suit my wide feet with flattish arches and I’ve had to get rid of every pair over the years no matter how hard I have tried to break them in. I’d much rather pay the extra for Gaziano & Girling whose lasts better cater for a size G without having to go up a size.

I wonder who will supply the soles with Rendenbach closing. I was astonished to hear they are going out of business given how few oak bark tanneries there are left.

Vin

Hi Simon.

Interesting article.

In your view, how does a C&J calf/suede loafer like the Harvard or Sydney compare to the EG Piccadilly?

Thanks.

Vin

Thanks. Do you notice a material step up in quality, finishing and overall detail between the C&J and your EGs?

Josh

I purchased a pair of Harvards a few years ago, but in chestnut calf. I anticipated that they would very versatile, in particular pairing well with denim and chinos, as well as more formal trousers, but they’ve often not felt right (style-wise) when I’ve put them on. Do you think this might be because the colour is significantly less versatile than dark brown? In a comment above, a reader alluded to the socks being critical, and I think they might be on to something. Do you have any other suggestions apart from white?

Felix

These have been my go-to drinking shoes when not wearing sneakers for years now, and they can really take any kind of abuse. Very robust. Btw, Merz B Schwanen sells cream wool socks, though with a varsity stripe – I only wear those with sneakers.

Max

I very much like the low-key, high contrast pictures for this article. They feel very contemporary yet elegant.

John

Hi Simon,

How does the C&J Boston in “country calf” compare with the Harvard in terms of versatility with chinos and jeans, and maybe with shorts?

https://us.crockettandjones.com/collections/boston/products/boston-darkbrown-country-calf-city

Thanks

John

How far towards the summer can these cordovan shoes go? Would you wear these with the PS shorts for example?

Il Pennacchio

In the book Take Ivy, there’s a photograph of someone wearing cordovan loafers with shorts, so it’s a “done thing”, at least in Ivy style.

Il Pennacchio

It does, and “what one can pull off” has a lot to do with what one is comfortable wearing. One person might be fine wearing cordovan loafers with shorts, another might find the gap in formality too great. And as you point out, it might depend on the specific loafers or shorts, as well as the rest of the outfit.

DD

Hi Simon,
Inspiring and wearable contemporary styling in these photos, as always when you do Ivy.
But mainly, I think you are making a good point with the sizing issue! I have broad feet from the ball onwards, combined with a somewhat narrow heel, and usually rely on wishful thinking that they will give more room after wearing for a while. It works fine with sneakers, where the midsole gets compressed quite quickly. With welted shoes, however, this is not always the case.
Long story: I have a pair of Paraboot shoes (very stale sole, norwegian welt, do not adapt to the foot) which I were about to give up on due to heel slippage. Heel grips solved the fit issues but came loose after a while. My cobbler suggested a permanent solution where leather lining was permanently mounted along the heel on top of the heel grip. This made them fit perfectly in the heel but pushed the feet a few millimeters in the toes, making them a bit snug. thick socks are now out of the picture. Had I gone up a half size, it would probably have fit perfectly with the alteration!

AW

I’m slightly puzzled about how you can push Crockett and Jones so much without actually wearing a pair (before your loafers).( Yes, I’ve had lots of factory walkarounds too.)
I do agree that, for the price, Crockett and Jones shoes do look very nice. My Connistons get comments (not many people comment on shoes at all) but I just don’t find them comfortable. It’s not the fit but the hardness of the footbed. I’ve had them for five years and still my feet ache after standing in them for a couple of hours.
My Church’s, on the other hand are all much more comfortable. The Caldecot that I have on right now are nine years old next month. I wear them three times per week and they still look new.
The internet is full of people (bloggers and posts on forums/blogs) that rave about Crockett and Jones and dismiss Church’s (claiming inferior quality) without actually wearing a pair of either.
One person who has a blog (it’s not in the same league as Permanent Style) who is very vocal about how the quality of Church’s has decreased since Prada,has never owned a pair.
I find this an inherent problem with the internet. People read one post (somebody’s opinion ) and then regurgitate it somewhere else as fact.
I read in car magazines that Audi were high quality. So I bought an Audi. I had problems from day one and sold it within two years.
My point is, people sould always take an article or post on the internet as an opinion but if they want to know for sure, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

AW

Thanks Simon,
When you say suppliers, what exactly do you mean. I asked Crockett and Jones where they got the leather from -something that C&J fans say is extremely good for the price and many on a certain forum state which tannary it’s from.(they’re wrong)
The answer from Crockett and Jones was that the distributors get the leather from all over Europe and it is not possible for C&J to track where it all comes from. They could only state that it came from sources that passed all the regulations for treating the animals and people in a humane way and that they had gone through a thorough process to document it for two years in order to get the Royal Warrant.
Regards,
AW.

AW

I understand that. And please, I’m not trying to start an argument here. I am here because I enjoy your writing and I think you are a very stylish person. But, I think my five years of wearing Crockett and Jones (and polishing them regularly) makes me knowledgable about the finish, quality and comfort of the shoe. Probably more so than someone who has gained their knowlegde from what other people have said. This is my point about people gaining their knowledge from the internet, not a dig at you personally.

AW

I get that, but I just want readers to get first hand experience before deciding what is a quality shoe. If, from reading your articles on Crockett and Jones, your readers decide that C&J are amazing shoes, it’s not even based on second hand knowldge, but third. They will then comment on a another site that Crockett and Jones are the best mid tier shoe in Northampton – at which stage it is fourth hand knowledge.

AW

Thanks for taking the time to reply Simon. I think you’ve nailed it with your last comment about the quality of the original information. That’s why I enjoy your writing.
Other “blogs” make statements (I have a particluar shoe blog in mind) without any facts to back them up. Just “I walked past a certain shop and didn’t like any of the styles, therefor that brand is of inferior quality.”
Of course, the information doesn’t necessarily need to be first hand if it is heavily researched and from quality sources.
If someone asked me if John Lobb are any good, my answer would be “a lot of people think so”. I could not state yes or no because I would only be going on what I have read or heard.

Michael

Hi Simon. Thanks for this. A question and a comment. First, could I ask after your socks? Second, I too used to prioritise fit at the heel heel over the toe. I abhorred heel slip so was prepared to put up with jamming my little toe into the top left/right corner of the shoe. As I’ve aged and become less tolerant of discomfort, I’ve allowed some heel slip in order to spare my toes. The consequence (together with slight elongation of the foot caused by slowing falling arches) is that I have gone up a full size and have and attic full of C&Js that I can no longer bear to wear.

Nico

Hi Simon,

I am very interested in the advice you give in passing on counter measures for heel slippage.

I have generally narrow feet and probably specially narrow heels. I also have to use orthotics which make shoe fitting additionally difficult. That has made me stay off loafers.

I have acceptably managed some lace ups with tongue pads, but these do not work for instance with my Chelseas. Despite a specifically narrow last fine elsewhere my heels largely swim about inside.

You mention besides tongue pads a ‘half sock’. What is that? Never heard of before.

In my mind I have figured out that a solution for narrow heels might be something like an ankle brace with cushioning around the heel that could fill up that area of the shoe while the rest kept enough room. I have never seen anything similar offered though.

Thanks,

Nico

How would that prevent slippage when there is too much room around?

DD

Hi Nico,
See my above comment on inserting a heel grip. It is basically a thick piece of suede mounted at the top of the heel lining. It helps my feet stay down in the shoe and avoid heel slippage. It can be found in some supermarkets, your cobbler may have it, or you can order it from skolyx.se (which might be a bit of a hassle depending on where you live).

DD

Thank you Simon.
I guess it depends on the foot and the shoe. I had already tried tongue pads, full sole, half soles (both front and back). And the heel on the shoes are quite high, which might help. It is a cheap trick (a few pounds for a pair), worth a shot if it works. And you are definitely right about it coming loose after a while! A good cobbler can cover it with leather to make it permanent as well as less abrasive – with the risk of she foot being pushed forward a few millimetres. Honestly, I mostly wanted to get this out into the cyberverse because this is one of the places people end up when googling their shoe fit issues before cutting their losses.
Have a good day!

FT

Hi Simon –
Thanks for this article.
I recently bought a pair of the same Harvards in dark brown cordovan, at least in some part due to your recommendation here.
However, are you sure that the soles are Rendenbach?
When I bought them, the retailer said they did not believe the soles were Rendenbach.
They also seemed to be identical to every other calf shoe sole in the store to my eyes, but I am not an expert.
It wasn’t a dealbreaker to me and I am very happy with them, but just wanted to fact check that a little bit if you don’t mind.