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Men: What Are Loafers & How To Wear Them

Written by: Bronwen Collins | July 10, 2019.

Loafers are the forgotten shoes you need to reintroduce to your wardrobe. Often neglected in place of trainers or brogues, loafers can be a stylish addition for both casual and formal wear. Being easy to dress up or down makes them your newest go-to shoe that’s minimalistic, easily adaptable, and looks like you’ve put a lot of thought into your dapper-vibe outfit. Be warned though, the loafer look can be completely spoiled if you don’t style them correctly, so read our top tips here on how to wear loafers.

A man lying down casually in front of a blue background and looking towards the camera. He's wearing a grey suit, a white t-shirt, and brown loafers.

What Are Loafers?

Starting with the basics, loafers are slip-on style shoes that do not have laces or any other fastenings. Think fancy slippers. Usually, loafers have a low or even no heel and are typically made using leather or suede.

What’s the difference between loafers and moccasins?

We have our friends in Scandinavia to thank for the invention of loafers. The Norwegian footwear was actually based on the moccasins worn by Native Americans. The difference between moccasins and loafers is that moccasins tend to have lace across the top, but they never feature a heel and do not have a separate sole like their loafer-cousins. Moccasins are also typically made using soft leather, whilst loafers are considered a bit tougher.

What’s the difference between loafers and boat shoes?

Loafers are also similar to boat shoes, but don’t tend to be as sporty and are considered more formal than boat shoes. You could easily wear boat shoes with shorts, but loafers and shorts tend to be a no-go (with a few exceptions that we’ll explain down below). We’re adding a pinch of smartness to your outfit with loafers. So, if you want casual, opt for boat shoes instead.

How to wear loafers?

Getting onto the tips now, there are many different styles of loafers you could go for. Including Penny Loafers, Gucci Loafers, and tassel loafers. Penny loafers are plain on the top with no embellishments, while the Gucci loafer has a metal clasp across the front and the tassel loafer has (you guessed it) a tassel on the front. But the style is really up to your personal taste, instead, we’re going to explain how you can match loafers with your outfits. From every day to formal occasions.

The camera is looking down on a man's leg perched on a vase. He is wearing blue trousers and black leather loafers from GH Bass.

How to Wear Loafers with Casual wear?

For a casual look, your loafers can add a bit of a dapper vibe to any look to give things a bit of an upgrade. We recommend you try to match your loafers with one other semi-smart piece of clothing whilst the rest can stay casual. For example:

Shirt + Jeans = Wear Loafers
T-shirt + Chinos = Wear Loafers
T-shirt + Jeans = No Loafers
T-shirt + Shorts = No Loafers
Cuban Collar Shirt + Shorts = Loafers

Try to pick a pair of loafers that aren’t too “dressy” either. No shiny black leather loafers here. Instead, go for suede loafers in bright colours like jade green and ruby red. This will help make the loafers the star of your outfit and make the outfit seem planned.

How to Wear Loafers Formally?

On the other side, we don’t recommend bold coloured loafers for your formal look. Here the trick is to keep the tones of your outfit in the same colour palette as your shoes. Timeless shades such as black, brown and grey will all work here. Also, opt for leather loafers rather than suede to ensure things stay smart.

When it comes to your suit, have trousers with a short length to compliment the fact you’re sockless. We explain the different trouser lengths you can go for here.

A black loafer sat in front of a blue backdrop.

Our Top Tips for Wearing Loafers

  • Stick to suede loafers to keep things casual
  • Go for boat shoes as an alternative if you want to wear shorts
  • Try to match your loafers with one more smart-casual piece for your everyday wear
  • Choose leather loafers if you want to look more formal
  • Do not wear socks (the visible kind at least) with loafers!
  • If you really do want to wear socks, then pick a sock pattern that matches your clothing colours (or complements) so people know this choice is on purpose.

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