Make way, stilettos and pumps, because the loafer is back! Not sure how to find the right pair for you? Well from colours or styles, we’ve got your ultimate guide to loafers down – plus a few fashion faux pas’ you just have to avoid!
Leather vs Suede
Before delving into what loafer style you’re after, it’s worth taking a few moments to decide on the right material. Like other smart shoes, loafers are generally made using one of two fabrics: leather or suede, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
Suede, because it is made from the dermis of the hide, is thinner and more delicate than leather, and will need to be cleaned with specialized materials. Their delicate finish, which means suede loafers should be protected from moisture at all costs, should therefore be worn during Spring/Summer months. So if you live in a wet climate with lots of rain, we would avoid this material.
Leather, with its sleek and gleaming finish, make for the perfect punctuation for smarter looks – we’re talking the full suit or smart-casual tailored separates combination. Generally, loafers made from leather are markedly sturdier than those crafted from suede and will also wear well over the years.
The preppy footwear classic, and probably the most well known out of the lot, the penny loafer has a leather strap across the top of the shoe, with a diamond-shaped slot just wide enough to hold a small coin. There are several theories behind the coin space, one being that is was a fashion statement devised by American prep school students in the 1950s. Another says that change was carried there for emergencies. Either way, the style has become a fashion legend.
The Alden Shoe Company are credited with creating the tasselled loafer. After experiementation, in 1905, Alden Shoe Company attached tassels on their loafers for decoration. By 1952 they were flying off the shelves, and by 1957 all the big shoe boutiques and shops were stocking them.
Also known as the “Snaffle” loafer, we have Gucci to thank for this one. Introduced in 1968, its distinguishing feature was a golden brass strap in the shape of a horse’s snaffle – or “horse bit” laid across the front. The “horse bit” went on to become one of Gucci’s defining features.
- If you decide to go sock-less your feet will probably get pretty hot, especially if you’re loafers are made of leather. The solution? Pop socks! Also known as “invisible socks”, these must-haves may seem a tad feminine, but you’ll thank us later!
- If you want people to notice your loafers, they will also be taking notice of your trousers. Think these through as well – linen or chino trousers are best for Spring/Summer and wool or denim are good in the cooler months.
- If you’re travelling and don’t have a shoe horn to help you slide your loafer on, our top tip is to use a belt! Using a shoehorn, or a belt in this case, will protect against heel damage and greatly increase the lifespan of your loafers.
- We recommend wearing narrow-toed loafers when traveling for business. When paired with a suit, narrow-toed loafers take on the form of full-on dress shoes, and will resume their casual ranking when worn with jeans – double win!
- Don’t forget to match the metal detail on your loafers (if necessary), with your belt buckle, braces, blazer buttons and cufflinks, for a seamless and elegant finish.
- A tanned ankle wouldn’t go a miss!