There's a lot to love about loafers. With the elegance of a dress shoe but the ease and comfort of a slipper, the classic menswear staple is one of the most versatile styles of shoe, lending itself just as easily to formal outfits as to more casual looks.

A brief history of the loafer

The first modern loafer was supposedly created in 1926 by London shoemaker Wildsmith for King George VI, in response to his request for a casual slipper-style shoe that he could ‘loaf’ around in. A few years later, Norwegian shoemaker Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger developed a style of farm shoe called the ‘Aurland moccasin’. It was this style that inspired the creation of the first penny loafer by American footwear brand G.H. Bass & Co. They named their version the ‘Weejun’, as a playful nod to its Norwegian origins.

Fast forward a few decades and loafers have rightfully earned pride of place in many a man's wardrobe. There is a wide variety of loafer styles on offer today – from preppy penny loafers and horse-bit loafers (popularised by Gucci) to classic Belgian loafers and the slightly more flamboyant tasseled styles.

How to wear loafers

The beauty of the loafer lies in its inherent versatility. This is a shoe that will look great with just about anything. Wear your loafers as you would traditional dress shoes like Oxfords or Derbies, on formal occasions or to work with smart tailored trousers and a sharp blazer. Alternatively, take them down a notch with selvedge denim jeans and an overshirt for an effortless off-duty look. Add a sweatshirt for an updated take on luxury sportswear or a classic mac coat for sixties-inspired style.

And when it comes to the age old question of socks or no socks – there are no hard and fast rules. For the sake of comfort, we recommend socks in winter (keep them classic – no outlandish prints or patterns), but in summer, feel free to go sans socks or buy a pair of invisible socks to help wick away sweat.

Loafers we love

G.H. Bass & Co. Cognac Leather Penny Loafers

Creators of the original penny loafer, G.H. Bass & Co. remain experts in the art of loafer craftsmanship. This sophisticated leather style is as classic as they come. We're particular fans of the rich cognac colour, which emanates timeless retro appeal.

Duke + Dexter Black Patent Duke Loafers

With their sleek glossy finish, these patent leather loafers exude elegance. They're the ultimate formal dress shoes, perfect for teaming with a tuxedo or suit. As with all of Duke + Dexter's shoes, they're handmade in England using the finest Italian leather.

Velasca Dark Brown Smooth Calf Leather Cuntaball Penny Loafers

This penny loafer from Italian footwear label Velasca is stylish yet sturdy, thanks to a durable Vibram rubber sole. The smooth full grain leather and versatile vintage brown colouring makes for a luxurious and timeless shoe that will serve you well for years.

Church's Clatford St James Leather Monk Strap

These sleek leather monk straps from esteemed British shoe brand Church's perfectly bridge the gap between smart and casual. The Goodyear construction and comfortable inner lining – not to mention trend-transcending style – means they're guaranteed to stand the test of time.

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