Loafers have been a staple piece of menswear since they were invented back in 1930. Even though they’ve gone through some changes in their almost century-old existence, and they continuously cycle in and out of fashion trends, they’re still an essential piece in every man’s wardrobe. Nowadays, you’ll find a few different styles of mens loafers, and the four most popular ones you’ll come across are the penny loafer, tassel, snaffle, and apron loafer.
The penny loafer is as classic as classic can get. It features a leather strap across the top and a diamond-shaped slot that’s wide enough to fit a small coin. The coin is thought to be carried in case people needed to make an emergency phone call from a booth, or a fashion statement by American prep school students in the 50s. Whatever the case, penny loafers have become a fashion legend and they don’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Tassel loafers are a result of an experimental design by the Alden Shoe Company. The inspiration came from a Hungarian-American actor who wore Oxfords with tassels at the end of the laces. These loafers have a slip-on pattern that features a tassel as decoration.
Snaffle loafers, also known as the Gucci loafers were introduced in 1968, and they feature a golden brass strap that’s laid across the front and resembles a horse’s snaffle. This style of mens loafers was the first one that was formal enough to wear with suits, and they inspired the loafer revolution, making them the footwear of choice for big names like John F. Kennedy and Gianni Agnelli.
Apron loafers are distinguishable by the visible stitches and edges that finish off the toe. They’re also known as moc toe, and they feature a piece of leather that extends from the bottom of the top line around the entire shoe. The stitching line that ties the two “parts’ together gives an impression of a crease between the bottom and top of the shoe.
How to Wear Loafers
Loafers are quite versatile, but they’re best combined with a smart casual or casual look. You can wear them with plain shirts, polo shirts, blazers, jackets for tops and jeans, chinos, shorts as bottoms, etc. In some cases, they make your look more casual, while in others, they smarten it up.
For instance, you can wear loafers with your favourite denim and polo shirts and instantly appear more fashionable than you would if you wore sneakers. When it comes to loafers, there aren’t many rules, but you should try to keep the length of the denim shorter. Baggy and long jeans look terrible with loafers. You can get washed or ripped jeans, but try to pick contrasting colours and make sure the top half of your outfit compliments the bottom. This means no sportswear for tops.
If you’re looking for a more formal combination with loafers, you can’t go wrong with creme, khaki or blue chinos. You can also pull off bright colour trousers, but you’ll be more limited in what colour loafers you can wear. Pair this combination with a polo shirt, ditch the socks, put on a belt and you’ve got yourself a look. This is a great summer look that’s easy to pull off and can be worn on a variety of occasions. This is partly due to the versatility of the loafers, but it also has to do with the polo shirt.
The great versatility of polo shirts makes them the ultimate summer staple for men who don’t really like to dress up but still want to look nice. Usually characterized by a sleek collar, short sleeves and three buttons, this menswear classic is beyond athletic and comfortable. It’s perfect for chilling on the beach and for business casual outfits. Moreover, almost every brand designs polo shirts in different styles, designs, patterns and fabrics.
If it’s chilly outside, or you want to start treading in smart casual waters, throw in a blazer, but be mindful of the colours you combine. A white polo shirt with a navy or black blazer would be a good choice. You can go with either a single or double-breasted blazer. Another great way to wear loafers in the summer is with shorts. However, it’s a thin line between looking cool and presentable, and like a suburban douchy white kid. That being said, consider tailored shorts that sit just above the knees, and a polo or tailored shirt.
And of course, loafers also work with a suit and tuxedo. However, you have to make sure the trouser length is right at the ankle. To sock or not to sock? That is the question that bothers many. And the answer is, it’s up to you, as long as you wear them, or not, with confidence. The sockless look has been getting a lot of traction lately, so consider the occasion and the weather before you make a choice. And as far as wearing loafers with a tuxedo, you should opt for polished black leather loafers, or colour-match them with your tuxedo. When in doubt, you can always turn to black.