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Ghost Cart – The Curse of the Black Suede Loafers

I’m Reed Nelson, a writer here at Heddels, and you’ve stumbled upon a place where I’ll be going into obscene detail about pieces of clothing I regret (deeply or otherwise) not purchasing—lamenting, complaining, and explaining how things went wrong*.

If you’re wondering what it is that makes me qualified for this undertaking, know that there are two primary factors, the first of which being that I worked for years at a fairly prominent, high-end clothing store (RIP) and had access to a stupid volume of clothing at even stupider discounts and have thus wanted, bought and passed on more clothing than a legitimately embarrassing number of people, presumably.

I’m also an avowed crazy person who overthinks, obsesses and loses sleep over just about anything, clothing being a favorite excuse to do any of the aforementioned.

(*Picture a Greatest That Never Was documentary and then just make it sadder, somehow. Maybe like if “Someone Like You” was about a piece of clothing.)

So, while this is certainly an exercise in nostalgia and ruefulness, it’s also very much an exercise in Ways to Never Get Over Things or How Long is Too Long to Keep a Tab Open (no such length). That means that this isn’t about the antiques, relics and artifacts of menswear; we have a section for that.

These are the things that haunt my closet, the phantom limbs of my wardrobe, vestiges of envisioned fits and ghosts of tabs’ past. Crazy? Yes. But at least it’s on brand, so onward.

This week, I’m upset about some Alden’s. I promise, this will be the most normal thing I get retroactively tweaked about. Take that as you will.

I went to the Edgar Allen Poe museum in Richmond, Va. recently, and the (oddly problematic) encyclopedia of a tour guide talked about how Child Poe used to be so obsessed with a murderous figure lurking in the shadows of his bedroom that he couldn’t sleep for like a year*.

That was his Tell-tale Heart. My Tell-tale Heart though, at least for this week, is a pair of black suede Leisure Loafers from Alden. Is this sad? On a number of levels, yes, but pain works best as fodder.

(*Poe turned his neurosis into one of the most lauded pieces of short fiction in American history, I turned mine into a scattershot shopping habit. There are levels to this, apparently.)

Anyways, I fully understand that Alden’s aren’t light fare. They traditionally cost an iPhone amount of dollars, require an intimate knowledge of lasting techniques to properly size and are built for roughly the same level of comfort as fast food restaurant furniture**.

None of that matters, however, because Alden’s are mf stunning. And for no discernible reason, I passed on literally hundreds (100s) of models over the course of three years, each pair priced 60% below MSRP and most of them exclusive to the store I worked for at the time.

(**Fight me on this, I don’t care. For anyone up to the task, just know that your argument is predicated on making me believe that shoe companies making shoes that are specifically designed to be comfortable don’t exist.)

Again, for those still (understandably) confused, I bought none (0)(zero) of them***. I have reasons— most of them bad, decades of sneaker addiction turning my brain into a PSA is probably the best one— but it wasn’t like I didn’t appreciate them in the moment, either.

In fact, I have at least five pairs photographed in a folder on my phone called “TO BUY” and I still look at all five wistfully on occasion.

There was a pair of all black Officer’s Shoes, a chestnut brown pair of Natoma Dovers, a pair of green suede Dovers, a milkshake suede Norwegian Split Toe (HINTS) that belongs in a museum and that aforementioned pair of black suede Leisure Loafers with tonal stitching, which rattle around my subconscious like a forrest green shoebox nestled under floorboards I don’t have—my Tell-Tale Shoes or something.


(***For transparency’s sake, I was given a pair of cordovan loafers from their Cape Cod diffusion line after a customer claimed that they received different sizes in an online order. He didn’t, but while they’re beautiful shoes, they’re not Alden’s. They’re the airport Wolfgang Puck salad of Alden’s.)

As such, it’s the last pair that keeps me up at night. I refuse to accept that we’re existing in a Post-Sneaker World—or even that we’re in a Pre-Post-Sneaker World—but loafers are good shoes and these are really good loafers.

As documented elsewhere on this site, I won’t wear something with as many eyelets as boots have and I’m not here for clunky pull on joints, but I also need to grow up at some point in the near future. And those black suede Leisures would’ve grown me up AND gotten me out of sneakers AND helped me avoid a boot sentence.

That’s a menswear trifecta right there, and I had the inside rail and absolutely blew it.

How bad did I blow it? I had them sitting in a hold closet for two months, removed from inventory and available for around $220 instead of $515—I basically squandered a 3-1 lead, got a redo, built another 3-1 lead and then pissed it away again.

There’s that “If you love something set it free” adage, but maybe don’t do that. I set these free, put them back in inventory and watched them move in literal minutes, only to think about them at least once a week for the next three years.

I think about that jet-black suede, the under-appreciated—but absolutely perfect—vamp, the expert Goodyear everything. Anyways, none of us are truly free but if I owned these I’d feel more free. I think.

In any case, here I am, wearing Birkenstock Bostons, Powerphases, and 990s, with literal Google alerts setup in case some grass-is-greener lunatic decides to part with theirs in an 8.5 or a 9 (US, in case one of those lunatics is you, good reader).

Those are different sizes you say? Accurate, but also intentional. If I can find these, I really won’t care how they fit as long as they look like they fit.

Moral of this story: Don’t pass on timeless footwear that you enjoy, regardless of what footwear cycle we’re in. That sentiment is multiplied by a factor of 4,132 when that footwear is discounted heavily.

Next Edition: Not Alden’s.

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