When you’re talking about versatile, stylish footwear, there are few styles I like better than loafers. I love that they can be dressed up or dressed down, and work for pretty much every season. There are many varieties out there these days, from simple to complicated, but I’d like to focus on three primary types that deserve a place in your closet, plus a few that maybe don’t. Get ready, it’s loafer season for a reason.
A classic style that has stood the test of time, penny loafers are perhaps my favorite out of all the loafers. I love how versatile penny loafers are, they can be dressed up with a suit or dressed down with everything from jeans and a buttondown to chinos and a polo shirt. Brown and black are the two ideal colors here. For a secondary choice, a classic burgundy or oxblood color is an excellent option.
Johnston & Murphy
Originally designed for, you guessed it, driving, I love this style because they’re super comfortable and work well in a variety of casual situations. They come in a few variations but I prefer the versions with a nubbed rubber sole or a full rubber sole for the look and comfort. For colors, the basics like brown and tan are great of course, but I also recommend versions in grey or navy for a pop of color.
Another shoe that evolved from function – the no-slip rubber sole and lightweight design worked well on boats – boat shoes have become a classic warm-weather staple. I like them best with chinos and shorts for a relaxed alternative to sneakers. On the color front, go with blue, brown and grey for maximum wearability.
Alternative Loafer Styles
There are a few other loafer styles out there but I don’t generally recommend them because they can lean too specific in their look and style.
This dandy look is popular with a lot of style bloggers out there, and while I don’t hate them, I just don’t think they’re ideal for most men from a style standpoint. Just like your clothes, your shoes should be streamlined, and while the tassels can give them somewhat of a “distinguished” look, I find them to be distracting, like an untucked pair of shoelaces.
Another type with a dandyish vibe that has become popular again (you may know them as Gucci’s iconic loafer), I am not a fan of them at all. They immediately age you up (and not in a good way), and I always expect a lawyer or Wall Street guy who is trying way, way too hard to wear these.
Venetian Loafers or Smoking Loafers
Both of these have a similar, streamlined shape and a formal look. Venetian loafers are unadorned and usually in leather while smoking loafers are typically velvet and have embroidery or embellishments on top of the shoe. I always view these as super formal, and that’s why I really only recommend wearing the patent leather or velvet versions with a tuxedo if you want to add some flair. I don’t recommend more casual versions in regular leather because it’s a style that’s quite outdated and doesn’t have the versatility I like.
So no matter what you’re wearing, casual or formal, get out there and wear some loafers this season, your feet (and style) will thank you.