4 Types of Loafers (and How to Wear Them Properly)

Source: Neiman Marcus

The ultimate gentlemen’s shoe and a style that lies at the apex of sophistication can be a tricky style to master. The classic loafer has been somewhat of an essential piece of menswear since its invention in Norway in 1930, and has since continued to cycle in and out of trend. Throughout the years, loafers have become incredibly diverse in terms of inventive styles and fabrics, with designers continuously pushing the boundaries of this casual footwear, combining fashion fearlessness and comfortable style.

Finding the right pair of loafers to match your style is an instant upgrade for your wardrobe: Not only are they a classic, but they are comfortable and undeniably cool. The most fashionable men in history considered the loafer to be their go-to, thinking of it as an instantly sophisticated style trick. Putting on the right pair of loafers can change your attitude toward life. If you can’t quite figure out how to wear this trend, here is your guide to mastering the always stylish loafer.

Types of loafers

As you search for the perfect loafer to fit your needs and style. Here are some of the most popular options to choose from, according to D’Marge.

Penny loafer

This is the most classic of all the styles. The penny loafer has a leather strap across the top of the shoe, designed with a diamond-shaped slot that can hold a small coin. Although there are several theories as to why the diamond gap in the shoe exists, it holds its place as a fashion legend as the gentlemen’s shoe. There’s a reason why the penny loafer remains the most popular style: The beauty of the penny loafer is its versatility; the shoe can be dressed up or down easily and works with most outfits, says Gilad Yogev of G.H. Bass & Co, and boot maker in Wilton, Maine to FashionBeans.

Tassel loafer

The tassel loafer’s origins trace back to 1950, and were a result of an experimentation with design, subsequently becoming a hit in menswear. The precise origins of the loafer remain unclear, but a shoe company, The Alden Shoe Company, was tasked with making something akin to an Oxford with tassels and came up with a slip-on pattern that used the tassels as decoration.

Snaffle loafer

You may not know this loafer by name, but you absolutely know the look of the style. The snaffle loafer was introduced by Gucci in 1968; its distinguishing feature is a golden brass strap in the shape of a horse’s snaffle bit laid across the top of the shoe. Additionally, Gucci was credited with creating a black loafer (which was traditionally brown) and keeping the style formal enough to be worn with suits.

Apron loafer

From the name itself, these loafers are identifiable by visible stitches or edges that finish off the toe, forming a sort of “apron” like shape along the front of the shoe. The apron loafer is designed with a separate piece of leather that extends from the bottom of the top line, around the shoe itself. The stitched line results in the impression of a crease between the top of the toe and the bottom.

How to rock them

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Wearing them with a suit, formal style

When choosing what type of loafer to buy, whether it’s for formal wear or casual wear (or if you plan on wearing them both ways), you should make the investment and purchase a higher quality leather, because not only will they last longer and absorb the elements, but they will be more malleable to the shape of your foot, making them more comfortable to wear. You should never scrimp on leather shoes, but it’s even more so important when you purchase loafers, says Esquire.

This is important to note when you’re wearing loafers with formal business attire: “When wearing a suit with your loafer, the most important factor is the length of your trouser leg; the break should be slight at the top of your loafer so that the silhouette appears clean and you can still see the detail of the shoe,” says Topman personal shopper Daniel Rhone to FashionBeans.

Incorporating them into your everyday casual wear

When is comes to casual loafer wear, it’s best to consider loafers as a big style statement. Just make sure when you choose a style to purchase that you’re not taking it too far. Do not get ones in colors or patterns that are overly outrageous, like zebra prints, absurd tassels, or any other kind of tacky detailing. When you think of loafers for casual wear, think of them as a substitute for a pair of sneakers or other flats. Consider a different style option for whatever casual outfit you choose to wear them with. If you’re buying loafers for summer, opt for paler shades in both suede and softer leather.

Going sockless

Wearing loafers without socks and with a pair of slim cut trousers is a very modern European style. Wearing any of the aforementioned styles sockless will do. It’s just a matter of which style and color you feel comfortable wearing with your outfit of choosing. When going sockless, it’s all about making sure you get the gap right. Make sure your trousers aren’t sagging over your shoes. The sockless loafer look is ideal for summer or during the transitional months of the year, and is best worn with linen or chino trousers, and wool or denim for the cooler, transitional months of the year. To really nail this style, make sure they taper in near the ankle or leave a slight gap. Can’t resist not wearing socks as it gets a little colder? If you want to put some socks on, make sure they match the color of your trousers or pants; however, alternatively you can wear a contrasting color if you think you can pull it off.

On last thing to note if you’re choosing to go sockless (which you should!) is to bear in mind that your feet will probably get very hot. Esquire recommends that you try wearing an invisible sock to prevent your feet from sweating and smelling up your pricey loafers. “Another tip is to dust your feet with a little talcum powder so you don’t end up perspiring excessively in your brand new loafers,” Rhone tells FashionBeans.

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