Style Guide to Loafers for Men

Loafers are the epitome of refined, classic footwear for various reasons and are by far the most stylish shoes of our time. Loafers are a wardrobe staple that you can dress down or up and look excellent in various materials.

You shouldn’t lament investing in this shoe because it is minimalistic and easily adaptable to different seasons and looks. However, remember that how you style your loafers is extremely important. That is why we have compiled this expert guide on how to style loafers for men.

What Are Loafers?

Loafers have been popularized by various cultures, resulting in a vast array of styles. They are typically sleek, low profile, and, most importantly, lack laces. From penny loafers to moccasins, horse-bit loafers, and the classic dress loafer, it’s difficult to define any loafer other than slow, low, and very easy on the feet and eyes.

A Brief Overview of the Loafer’s History

The first modern loafer was allegedly designed in 1926 for King George VI by London shoemaker Wildsmith to answer his request for a casual, slipper-style shoe he could “loaf” around in. A few years later, Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger, a Norwegian shoemaker, created the “Aurland moccasin,” a type of farm shoe.

This style inspired American footwear company G.H. Bass & Co. to create the first penny loafer. As a playful tribute to its Norwegian origins, they dubbed their version the “Weejun.”

Fast forward a few decades, and loafers have earned their rightful place in many men’s wardrobes. Today’s loafer styles range from horsebit loafers and preppy penny loafers to classic Belgian loafers and slightly more flamboyant tasseled styles.

Types of Loafers for Men


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The penny loafer is a traditional, comfortable, classic shoe that combines simple elegance with long-lasting ease. This fashionable slip-on first appeared in the 1930s, but it didn’t take off until the 1950s. Some say the name comes from children inserting pennies into the slot; others say it’s just an urban legend.

The penny loafer is frequently available in dark colors such as espresso, black, burgundy, and brown, and it continues to be an adaptable, versatile, and downright handsome shoe.

Everyday wear: Yes

Formality: Semi-Formal / Casual

Season: Spring, Autumn, Summer

Style: A horizontal strap runs across the top of the loafer.


The roots of the tassel loafer are shrouded in mystery.

Most folks believe the shoe was invented when actor Paul Lukas took a pair of Oxfords with tassels to a New York shoemaker and asked them to make something similar. After being disappointed with the outcome, Lukas took his request to the Alden Shoe Company, who merged the tassel with a slip-on loafer. And voila, the tassel loafer was created.

Aside from the historical accuracy, there’s no denying that the shoe was and continues to be a huge success. This stylish staple oozes a European sensibility and provides classic sartorial flair in materials such as leather or suede.

Everyday wear: Yes

Formality: Semi-Formal / Casual

Season: Summer, Autumn

Style: The loafer has a tassel attached to the top.


blue espadrilles leaning on a shoe box

The espadrille is at the bottom of the styling barrel. This men’s loafer is a rope-soled flat ideal for casual wear. There is a very short list of shoes that stylish men should not wear, and the espadrille hovers on that fine line between awkward and acceptable.

If you want to try these on, you should get a pair from Saint Laurent or another comparable designer brand. Add a plain colored button-up and khaki shorts, and you’re ready for a day on the water.

Everyday wear: No

Formality: Casual

Season: Summer, Spring

Style: Woven or rope midsole with a rubber outsole.


What was once considered an old man shoe has now become a sartorial necessity for every fashionable man’s wardrobe. Often considered the odd one out by casual fans, the kilt loafer or kiltie is the loafer to have for the loafer connoisseur. Just because your granddad wore them doesn’t entail they’re anything less than the perfect loafer.

The tassels are a useful addition that protects the instep and keeps the laces from snagging. Pair the kilties with some suit pants or fitted trousers and a nice coat for the fall.

Everyday wear: Yes

Formality: Semi-Formal / Casual

Season: Autumn

Style: Kilt-style loafer with a kilt-style finish on top.


The slipper is the all-purpose loafer that closely resembles the footwear’s true origins. With a smooth upper completely lacking kilted and stitching flamboyance, this loafer neglects all the jazz and gets down to business. Depending on the material, you’ll be able to wear these with either shorts or a suit.

Avoid leather in favor of a lighter-colored suede material for a more casual look. If you intend to wear these with a suit, stick to black and pick either patent or leather material for added style.

Everyday wear: No

Formality: Formal / Casual (depending on material)

Season: Autumn

Style: No top finishings, one-piece material with very little stitching.



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The horsebit loafer is distinguished by a golden metal strap shaped like a horse’s snaffle across the top. Gucci popularized the style by changing the color from brown to black and tinkering with the lining. Gucci’s tampering resulted in a surge in popularity.

The Gucci men’s loafers quickly became a favorite among American power brokers. These days, the horsebit loafer exudes a slightly retro but still sophisticated vibe.

Everyday wear: Yes

Formality: Semi-Formal / Casual

Season: Summer, Spring

Style: Buckle across the loafer’s top.


The defining pebbled outsole of the driving loafer brings a layer of functional grip. With its summer style and casual comfort, this loafer is a great addition to any man’s wardrobe, racecar driver or not.

If you’re searching for a pair of loafers to keep by the front door when you have to go shopping, these are the ones. The driving shoe is equally at home relaxing on the beach as it offers the extra grip you require while cruising through the countryside in your Porsche.

Everyday wear: Yes

Formality: Casual

Season: Summer, Spring

Style: Pebbled rubber outsole with laces on top.


men’s brown boat loafers

It wasn’t until Prada placed these on the runway that anyone started wearing them seriously. First and foremost, if you’re over 30, skip the boat shoe entirely.

If you just graduated from high school, these might grab your attention, and if you can’t take them out of your head, don’t dress them up with anything other than linen. Wear no socks and stick to classics like Sperrys, RM Williams, or Timberlands.

Everyday wear: Yes

Formality: Casual

Season: Summer, Spring

Style: Rubber outsole with laces on top.

Suede or Leather: Which Is Better?

After wading into the various types of shoes on the market, it’s worth remembering a few material-related reminders. Like other smart shoes, loafers are typically made from one of two fabrics: suede or leather, each with advantages and disadvantages.

With their gleaming and sleek finish, leather loafers are the ideal finishing touch for smarter looks, whether they’re smart-casual tailored separates or a full suit. Although you should keep them in good condition (cleaning and polishing regularly), loafers made of leather are significantly sturdier than suede ones. They will wear well over time, developing a distinct patina.

On the other hand, suede should be reserved for the spring and summer months if you have any respect for footwear. With their luxurious but delicate finish, you should keep suede loafers away from excessive moisture.

Suede designs also have a tad more casual feel (though this isn’t to say you can’t wear them with tailoring), making them a natural choice for a summer wardrobe bound to be more relaxed than their autumn/winter counterpart.

Loafers: How to Style Them



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The key to wearing loafers for formal occasions is to select the right material. Patent leather can add a lot of depth to formal outfits. However, to keep things relatively classic, choose patent leather loafers in classic colors such as black.

Choose more textured loafers for a different look that will make your shoes stand out. What is our choice? A high-quality velvet loafer that you can dress and adds depth to your ensemble. They’ll read opulent and classic.


For more ambiguous attire, loafers excel at making you appear dressed up while remaining simplistic and relaxed. Choose classic colors to complement your go-to dress shirts and trousers for a failsafe semi-formal look. Loafers look great with preppy blazers (here’s a guide to men’s blazers that can help!).

However, make sure that the tones of your outfits are all in the same color palette. For classic Americana vibes between seasons, pair your loafers with shawl neck cardigans and cable-knit sweaters thrown over your shoulders.

Take into account that suede works fantastically for more ambiguous dress codes. Also, make certain that your clothing is well-tailored.

If you want to add a pop of color to your semi-formal outfits, go for emerald green, cherry red, or cobalt blue loafers, but wear them cautiously. Combine brighter loafers with the classic, more subdued tones like whites and navy blues to make them stand out more subtly.


Incorporate loafers into your smart-casual ensemble for a more sophisticated take on daywear. You’ll be surprised at how simply switching your usual trainers for loafers can give your outfits a more put-together look.

The key here is to ensure they aren’t overdressed or formal. You’ll want them in more flexible fabrics to wear with your casual outfits. Lightweight textured loafers and suedes are ideal for this.

Try out more summery colors for a different way of wearing loafers for casual wear. Greens and powder blues are perfect colors for this.

Loafers and Pants

man wearing pants and orange driving loafers

Loafers are an excellent footwear choice whether you’re wearing trousers or a full suit with a blazer and shirt. These opulent yet casual shoes are ideal for formal attire with a twist. They are especially appropriate for cocktail parties, where you want to look dapper but not drab.

Loafers and Chinos

Chinos and loafers can also look great together. Wearing loafers and chinos together achieves an excellent smart casual look because they both project a laid-back yet sophisticated aesthetic.

As a result, the pair is perfect for semi-formal daytime events like luncheons. Add a blazer, dress shirt, and, if desired, a tie to complete the look.

Loafers and Jeans

Consider replacing your regular jeans and sneakers with jeans and loafers if you want to upgrade your casual attire. Wearing loafers with denim instantly elevates these casual jeans to a more polished look.

However, take care with what you wear on top. A simple T-shirt will make your footwear look out of place, whereas a rollneck sweater or cotton shirt will be the ideal complement.

A Contemporary Approach

Loafers have been worn by various subcultures and men, each with their distinct style, whether on the feet of Camden Teddy Boys or Ivy League prepsters. Loafers are more popular in modern fashion than any other type of shoe. Look for cropped trousers or a slim, tapered style with a modern edge for a Mod-inspired take on loafers.

Can Socks Be Worn With Loafers?


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Yes. Put on socks that match your shoe or outfit if it’s a little chilly outside or you’re going somewhere uber-smart. Aside from an old-school white, forgo contrast and patterns at all costs.

If it’s hot outside, get some invisible socks. Many loafers are made to last and are designed to be super comfy, but the life of your shoes will also be determined by how well you care for them, and foot hygiene is a big part of that. Socks will help wick away odors and sweat, keeping your loafers smelling fresh after each wear.

Whatever your thoughts are on the true origins of the modern loafer, what is undeniable is this timeless silhouette’s deft blend of style and comfort. Unlike the holy trinity of Derbies, brogues, and Oxfords – all elegant but a little samey – loafers are frequently dismissed as flamboyantly “dandy” or too difficult to wear with a variety of outfits.

In reality, these slip-ons are anything but. They’re practical because they’re laceless, and there’s a style for every foot, with options ranging from traditional penny loafers to extravagantly finished horsebit loafers.