Proportions, Loafing And McNairy

Words by: Andrew Williams

We all know that you can play with the cut and styling of clothes to even out your proportions and compensate for mother natures shortcomings. Colours, patterns, styles of jacket, lapel types, collars,  are all the familiar tools, and in case of doubt refer to Nicholas Antongiavanni’s ‘The Suit’.

When considering proportion an item often overlooked are shoes. Whether you’re slight of build or quite hefty you’ll always do better to go for a bigger weightier shoe. For the most part that means Good Year Welted – which tends to provide a thinker and wider sole than Blake construction – and for best results go brogues or monks.

Unfortunately, I’ve always been a loafers man, and having put on a bit of timber recently they’ve tended to look a bit twee. However, this week I stumbled across the loafer I’ve been looking for, at least for casual pairings.

Mark McNairy will be pretty familiar to readers of Inventory, A Continuous Lean and those interested in the American Work Wear and Ivy League revivals that have gathered pace in the last 18 months.

For anybody unfamiliar with his name, in 2005 McNairy was hired by blue blooded, Ivy League outfitters J. Press, and was tasked with updating certain Lines.

While remaining creative director for J. Press, McNairy has undertaken a number of successful collaborations as well as launching a number of his own brands, including an English/US hybrid footwear label called Red Brick Sole. McNairy then takes US inspired designs like saddle shoes and bucks and has them made up by Sanders in Northampton, meaning you get the tradition and quality of English shoe making and of course Good Year Welting. What ties the range together is the Red Brick Sole which firmly plants them back in the Ivy League camp.


The McNairy Penny Loafers in Brown army grain leather is my choice, and the combination of robust leather and contrast sole should provide the weight I’m looking for. Not easy to find in the UK I’ll be purchasing mine through Swedish based Trés Bien – a trusted source and a useful supplier of Church’s shoes, for those based in continental Europe.