Add a refined finish to your closet with a pair of loafers. Gucci styles with iconic horse-bit detail come in smart suede, high-gloss patent leather or summer-ready straw. Penny loafers and tasseled styles by Prada, Cole Haan and Ferragamo hit the mark in woven or vintage-look burnished leather. Wear yours for summer with bare ankles.
The Loafers Buying Guide
Whether you prefer the classic penny, or designs that are detailed with tassels, horsebit hardware or fringing, loafers remain the perfect slip-on shoe. There are options that are suitable for a variety of occasions, as well as being crafted from a range of different materials to suit. Easy to get on and off, loafers are both comfortable and smart. Ahead, take a look at our men’s loafers buying guide, which will help you narrow down the styles that work best for you and show you how to care for them.
Know Your Loafer Styles
Smoking slippers are a type of loafer that have no toe stitch and are often crafted from textured fabrics like velvet. Expect slippers to feature a notched vamp and stacked heel, with some enlivened with striking embroidery. Stubbs & Wootton offer some of the most refined yet statement pieces.
One of the most versatile loafers a man can own, penny loafers are a classic and understated option. First created by Maine shoemaker G.H. Bass, the name stems from when people used to store a penny in the front for luck. Since you'll be able to wear them so often, it’s worth investing in a quality pair from brands such as Loro Piana, John Lobb, Paul Smith and Edward Green.
These loafers were designed in the late 50s and come with either one or two tassels detailing the front.
Kiltie loafers are a Scottish classic and feature fringed leather panels covering the instep. Some kiltie loafers pair the fringing with tassels.
Gucci added a gold-tone bar that was shaped like a horse’s snaffle bit across the vamp of its loafer in the 50s, offering a more formal interpretation of what had previously been a casual shoe. Made in Italy, Gucci’s Horsebit loafers remain iconic and are now available in a variety of iterations.
First popularized in the 60s and 70s and inspired by the golden age of motor racing, driving loafers are loved for their casual comfort. Driving loafers feature rows of rubber pebbles at the sole and back that were designed to grip the pedal and prevent them from slipping off. Italian label Tod’s signature Gommino loafers are some of the most recognizable, and come in a selection of colors and finishes.
Lug-sole loafers are a more contemporary option. They are set on thick rubber soles for improved stability and traction, which add a modern edge to the loafer’s streamlined silhouette. Gucci, Ferragamo, Tod’s and Bottega Veneta all offer their own interpretations of the style.
- What To Look For When Buying Loafers
Loafers are generally made from either leather or suede, with benefits to each material. Leather loafers tend to be more durable than those crafted from suede, and will only get better with age as they each develop a unique patina. Suede loafers look luxurious but will need to be protected well if you plan on wearing past the Spring and Summer months. Some brand’s also offer vegan-friendly alternatives, depending on the collection and style of loafer.
It’s also worth considering whether you want leather or rubber soles on your loafers. Leather soles excel in comfort and are easier to replace, while rubber soles are more lightweight and provide better waterproof protection.
- How to Care For Your Loafers
The perfect pair of loafers is worth looking after, and if cared for properly, can last decades. Follow the below tips to help keep your shoes in great shape.
Use shoe trees: When wearing your new shoes, it is recommended to only wear them for a few hours at a time to break them in. Immediately after taking them off and when they are still warm, add a well-fitting shoe tree. Using a shoe tree will help prevent creases from forming, the leather from cracking and your loafers from losing their shape.
Resoling shoes: If your loafers have leather soles, this means that they can be resoled many times over instead of being thrown away when the soles are worn. If you have invested in a high-quality pair, the brand can often repair them on the original last using the same materials.
Polishing leather loafers: Shoe polish will add lustre and shine to your loafers, as well as helping to prevent the leather from cracking by moisturizing and nourishing it. To polish your loafers properly, we advise following these steps:
1. Remove any excess dirt and dust with a brush
2. Apply the polish with a soft cloth in small, circular movements. Ensure it reaches the stitching between the welt and shoe, which is more prone to cracking.
3. Once it has been left on for a few hours, use a brush to buff to a high shine.
Cleaning suede loafers: To maintain suede loafers, you will need to regularly brush with a suede brush and use a suede-specific eraser to target any stubborn stains. The best method for keeping your suede shoes clean is to protect them with a spray-on suede protector. It will help them resist water, as well as preventing dirt and stains from sticking to your shoes.
- The Best Loafers For Your Budget
H by Hudson Loafers
From leopard-print to suede, leather, tasseled and woven designs, H by Hudson delivers a wide range of loafers that contains something for every type of shopper.
Polo Ralph Lauren Loafers
For loafers imbued with quintessential American style, look no further than Polo Ralph Lauren’s collection of loafers. Choose from the brand’s Reynold leather driver loafers, Braygan penny loafers, Harold tasseled loafers and many more.
Founded in Northamptonshire, UK, Grenson was the first shoemaker to use the Goodyear welting construction method on its shoes. It has since become synonymous with all well-made British shoes, and the brand’s high-quality loafers are a case in point. Our favorites include the expertly crafted Peter penny loafer, as well as the Bartlett, Lloyd, and Leadenhall styles.
Known as one of the finest men’s shoemakers, Church’s loafers are all handmade in the UK. They are set on leather soles with a Goodyear construction and an internal lining for longevity of wear. Invest in enduring pieces like the Dawley, Hertford and Drayford.
- Are loafers formal?
Loafers come in many different styles and colors, and whether it can be worn in a casual or formal setting will depend on the design.
Although Oxfords are seen as the smartest and are often the shoe of choice in a more traditional office setting, there are certain types of loafer that can also be worn. Opt for smooth leather versions, such as Gucci’s Horsebit loafers or classic loafers from heritage British brands like Grenson and John Lobb.
For casual occasions, brown suede penny loafers and driving loafers work particularly well.
- How do I style men’s loafers?
What you wear with your loafers will depend on the specific loafer style, as there are formal and casual versions. We recommend wearing suede penny loafers with chinos and a cotton-twill blazer for a polished smart-casual look. Look for chinos that finish at the ankle to leave just enough space between the top of the shoe.
For a dressed-up, but not too formal evening outfit, invest in a pair of fringed leather loafers. A slipper-like tasseled pair in suede are ideal for holidays.
- Should you wear loafers with socks?
Deciding to wear your loafers with or without socks is down to your own choice and comfort. If you are wearing your loafers for casualwear, you can still bare your ankles without going sockless with some no-show socks.