5 Best Loafers for Men in 2020: The Gentleman’s Casual Shoe of Choice
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Psst. Want to know a secret?
What’s the easiest way to dress up while staying dressed down?
They’re not just fancy slippers. They’re the gentleman’s casual shoe of choice.
At TAM, we think every guy should have at least one pair of loafers in their wardrobe. They’re our go-to when sneakers are too casual but it’s too hot for anything heavy.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to pick out a great pair and we’ll even suggest some of our favorites.
What Are Loafers?
Loafers became popular in the 1930s when the shoe company, Bass, created what’s known today as the penny loafer. Inspired by both Norwegian fisherman’s shoes and moccasins, the penny loafer stayed at the height of US fashion well into the ‘60s.
When Aldo Gucci caught on to the popularity of the style, he decided to bring his Italian class and flair. Thus the Horse-bit, or Gucci, loafers were born. From the ‘60s on, hundreds of shoe brands put their spin on the style.
Loafers began as casual shoes, but over time they’ve earned their spot among more formal attire. That balance of formal and informal has caught on with many Wall-Street bankers and punk-rockers alike.
Honestly, if I had to scream “buy, buy, sell, buy” in a room for twelve hours a day, I’d want to have a killer pair of loafers on, too.
3 Things You Should Consider When Buying Loafers
1. Work or Play?
What’s the occasion? Since loafers bridge the gap between casual and formal, you’ll be able to wear them with a variety of outfits. Stiff leather loafers go well with a smart suit, while light suede loafers look fantastic paired with jeans.
If you’ll be wearing loafers to work, choose brown or black leather and keep the design simple. You’ll still be able to wear them in a casual setting, but you’ll have your formal bases covered.
2. Color and Material
If you’ve got enough Oxfords and Brogues to last you through the workweek, wearing loafers will give you an opportunity to show a little flair.
Can’t handle another brown leather shoe hoarding space in your closet?
Branch out with brightly colored suede. They won’t work for every outfit, but they become the focal point when you wear them.
It’s ok if loafers are a bit snug on the first few wears. The leather will stretch to fit your feet. If you’re trying them in-person before buying, make sure you try with and without socks.
You don’t want to get stuck with an oversized pair of loafers because you tried them on while wearing your wool hiking socks.
The 5 Best Loafers for Men in 2020
Didn’t know there was so much to learn when buying your next favorite casual shoe, did you?
The world of loafers is enormous, so we went ahead and put together a list of our five favorite loafers.
Check out our top picks below.
The Different Types of Loafers Explained
The penny-loafer started it all. Originally created by Bass in the ‘30s, these earned their nickname as young men began to stash pennies in the front square cut-out in case of an emergency. That, of course, was back when pennies were worth keeping.
The tassel loafer as we know it was born in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s. They’re based on a simple slipper design but dressed up with leather ornamentation on the front.
More and more, tassel loafers are breaking free from their casual roots and landing in more formal attire.
Driving shoes hearken back to the grandfather of the loafer, the moccasin. Designed with flexibility in mind, there’s no sole on a driving shoe—just rubber segments.
While they were originally meant for driving (who would have guessed) they’re massively popular in Europe during the hot summer months.
You’ll know the Belgian loafer by the signature bow on its upper. Belgians fell out of style after they became associated with the infamous investment fraud and eleven-time felon, Bernie Madoff.
Thankfully, they’ve lost the bad rap. Belgian loafers are worn without socks and look great paired with jeans.
Gucci Loafer/Horsebit Loafer
Aldo Gucci saw the success of the Bass’s penny loafer and decided he wanted in on the loafer game. His design had all the comfort and casual ease of the penny loafer, but with a distinct Italian in-your-face touch.
Rather than the compact leather strap across the upper, Gucci added a metal bar designed like a horsebit.
Horsebit loafers (also known as Gucci loafers, even if they aren’t Gucci brand) are a favorite among law firm execs and the Wall Street upper crust.
Final Tips for Wearing Loafers
Socks, or no socks? Think you can go full Italian, or do you want to play it safe?
Certain styles like penny loafers pair well with brightly colored socks.
Other styles, like the Belgian or Gucci loafer, look better without anything underneath.
If you’re the kind of person who shudders at the thought of wearing shoes with no socks, pick up a pair of no-shows. These will reduce the amount of sweat your feet produce and will help you get through the break-in period.