Today I received a pair of vintage Bass Weejuns in the post from my good friend and thrifting colleague on the West Coast, Fred. He’d picked them up from a US Ebay seller who didn’t ship internationally, but had been a touch small for him. Lucky for me, as they fit me perfectly.
This is the second pair of deadstock oxblood tassel weejuns I’ve managed to pick up in the last couple of years. The first pair I bought on spec as they were so cheap and a rare wide fitting, but I haven’t worn tassel weejuns since around 1986. I don’t know why but unlike the standard penny or even the beefroll the tassels seemed a bit ‘wrong’ for a long time. Perhaps it was the fact that my original Natural Shoe Store bought pair lost the tassels quite quickly. In those days they were one of only two or three pairs in the arsenal but these days I haven’t even got around to wearing the pair I bought back in 2009!
The pair that Fred sent me are the pre-1983 model with the plastic heel plug and from the box probably date from the 1970s. They are a lighter colour than the 1980s pair I have with the rubber heel quarter and the quality is somewhat better. The stitching on the soles for instance on the earlier model is slightly channelled and away from the edges to avoid wearing through on day one, whereas the 80s model is quite poorly stitched. These things have glued midsoles anyway which is why they don’t fall apart on day one, but it’s not great if they get really wet and the stitching breaks through.
Compared with modern versions the vamp is longer, and the tongue much more proud, on both of these. This year as the weather gets a bit better I’m definitely going to break ground with one pair at least, teamed up with some corduroy jeans, or flat front grey flannels and a blue OCBD, I think they’ll look pretty good again. Funny how even within the Ivy / American Traditional canon that styles still come and go within the main ‘look’.