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.
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A brief history of men's loafers
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.
The best men's loafers in 2023
Aurélien Navy Voyager Loafer
Dutch label Aurélien doesn't cut corners when it comes to craftsmanship. Its meticulously made Voyager Loafers are crafted from from supple suede made from 100% French calfskin, with smooth leather linings and a suede trimmed sole. The result is a quietly luxurious pair of men's loafers that will subtly enhance any outfit.
Myrqvist Chestnut Suede Fårö Loafers
Handmade in Portugal from luxurious suede and boasting Goodyear welted construction, these tassel loafers for men epitomise Swedish footwear label Myrqvist's unwavering commitment to high quality craftsmanship. The easy-to-wear tan hue makes them ideal for year-round wear. Try them with a linen suit for an effortless summer wedding look.
Crown Northampton Artizan Belgian Slipper
For a change from the usual navy, black and brown loafer colourways, opt for these summer-ready white Belgian slippers from Crown Northampton. Inspired by classic jazz shoes, this clean and simple design is crafted from super soft calf leather, with a custom-cut Vibram sole unit in a choice of black, white, or gum colour.
KLEMAN Dalior 2 Loafers
KLEMAN is best-known for its functional worker shoes (especially its iconic PADROR style), but its artisanal expertise also extends to other styles – like these sleek leather penny loafers. Crafted in France and designed to stand the test of time, they're guaranteed to be your go-to smart shoes all year round. Wear them with cuffed jeans and a crisp white tee or take things up a notch with unstructured tailoring.
Duke + Dexter Black Patent Duke Loafers
With their sleek glossy finish, these men's 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. Style them with chinos and an Oxford shirt for an elegant business casual look.
Oliver Cabell Chestnut Driver Loafers
Oliver Cabell's take on the classic driving shoe is undeniably elegant and utterly comfortable. Made from luxurious Italian suede, it features a sturdy rubber outsole and micro foam footbed for ultimate support and durability. Team with a breezy linen shirt and chinos for a relaxed riviera look.
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 brown leather dress style is as classic as they come. We're particular fans of the rich cognac colour, which emanates timeless retro appeal.
Church's Pembrey Calf Leather Loafer
These sleek leather penny loafers from esteemed British shoe brand Church's perfectly bridge the gap between smart and casual. The Goodyear construction and soft yet sturdy unlined interior – not to mention trend-transcending style – means they're guaranteed to stand the test of time.