It seems as though everyone who’s interested in menswear is currently obsessed with loafers. That makes sense, for a few reasons. First, it’s no secret that for most menswear enthusiasts, their hobby is far from a necessity – we don’t live in a world that demands formal dress, and loafers come in enough shapes and sizes that, despite being a more casual option than a laced shoe it’s fairly easy to find something that suits your needs. Second, and more simply, they’re a good summer shoe. Third, and maybe this is just me, there’s something to be said for never having to worry about your laces.
Whatever the reason, spring is a great time to pick up a pair of loafers. You’ll be able to wear them straight through summer the autumn, and going sockless (don’t actually go sockless – wear loafer socks) with the breeze around your ankles feels great. You can wear them casually or with tailored clothing, with loose or slim silhouettes. In essence, you’ve got a lot of options. Loafers come in many shapes and silhouettes, from the soft and slipper-like to the robust and chunky, and most are ready for a loving place in your wardrobe. I could probably lay out a list of twenty pairs, but I’ll try to keep things simple and break them down into categories. Enjoy, and remember – you can still join the Streetwear Loafer Challenge, which ends this weekend.
Minimally lined or unlined, these are soft and forgiving. They tend to look good with more casual outfits, though certainly there are exceptions – unlined tailoring, especially in light, summer colors, being one such.
Unfortunately, these are already almost entirely sold out, but you can still the navy version. They’re sleek and unlined, and easy to slip on and off – perfect for neighborhood use or your travel needs.
Although these might not be the easiest to wear with tailored clothing, I can see them looking very nice both with odd trousers and a polo under a lightweight jacket, or with faded denim. They also come in plain suede, if you’re afraid of color.
While these might seem too unstructured for daily wear, I have often seen José Urrutia, the brand’s founder, wearing them with white or neutral chinos at Pitti Uomo and they look great – relaxed and supple, with a great depth of color. Plus, they roll up so you can stuff them in your carry-on. Brilliant.
These have been popular for a long time, and the late Glenn O’Brien was a well-known fan. Several companies make the style, at varying prices.
The classic version, favored by well-dressed men worldwide.
A relative newcomer, and the ready-to-wear line offered by bespoke shoemaker Allan Baudoin. Again, available in many colors, with or without tassels.
3. Rubinacci ‘Marphy’ (available at Mr. Porter)
Rubinacci offers these in a wide variety of fabrics, some not offered by the two brands above, so if you’re after a more adventurous color you may want to take a gander despite the higher price tag.
Don’t google that – I just made up generic, catch-all term for the ‘category’ in which most loafers will fall. Here, I’ll include Penny loafers, Venetians, and most things with straps and a stacked leather sole. These are the sort that, depending on the style, may be better suited for your tailored wares.
J. Fitzpatrick makes a variety of loafers, all of which are quite handsome, but I particularly like this ‘Laurelhurst’ model. The wholecut silhouette with a toe medallion and a stacked leather sole make it a slipper that can go anywhere.
2. Rancourt Venetian Loafer (available at Brooks Bros.)
Still a common sight on the East Coast, the Venetian Loafer is a bit stubbier and more casual than some of its ornamented counterparts, making it easy to wear on the weekends.
3. JM Weston 180 Loafer (available at Mr. Porter)
Ah, the iconically French shoe, still worn all over l’Hexagone. Wear them with anything, of any weight and any color, at any time of the year.
Good for Suits
Just what it says – loafers that play well with tailored clothing, and less so with jeans or other casual outfits.
A very classic American tassel, at home with a wide range of tailored outfits.
2. St. Crispin’s 539 Loafer (available at Leffot NYC)
As sleek and elegant as you could hope for, and fully endorsed by one of our contributors.
3. Alden Full Strap Slip-on (available at The Shoe Mart)
Alden is one of the most renowned brands on the forum, and this pair of loafers will be right at home with your business suits.
Picture this: you’re packing for your summer vacation. You’re trying to pick the ideal shoe – something you can wear sockless while carrying your towel bag down the rocks to the beach, but something that also works in the evening when you put on a jacket and trousers – or even a suit.
What you want is a white canvas sneaker.
Before you accuse me of telling you lies, let me assure you that wearing sneakers with a sport coat is a fine thing to do, and it’s pretty common in places that aren’t the USA. Arianna tells me that she can remember seeing Fiat managers wearing sneakers with their charcoal and navy suits, and of course sneakers are all over Pitti Uomo. You don’t have to go full-on captain of industry or Pitti peacock-hashtag-menswear to make the sneakers work, though – you just have to avoid the pitfalls of looking like a Disney star or a child playing dress-up.
Let’s talk about those pitfalls first. If you’re going to wear sneakers with a sport coat or a suit, and you’re after inspiration on how to do it, the first images you’ll find on the internet will probably be of either actor-slash-model types standing on the red carpet wearing really tight clothes and designer high-tops, or waifish Scandinavian dudes wearing black suits with white leather slip-ons inside their million-dollar Youtube-content-creator-slash-graphic-design-influencer offices.
Not that I’m jealous.
The point is, a lot of people try really hard to build their tailored outfits around the sneakers they’ve chosen. Along the way, they often pick up a few more trends – really tight trousers, gingham shirts, skinny ties – and this has the effect of making them look, well, childish. Like they’re playing dress-up. That’s not what you want! What you want is to wear sneakers with a jacket and trousers and look like a well-dressed adult.
So, instead of sizing down on everything you own, treat a pair of canvas plimsolls the same way you would a pair of loafers or espadrilles. Wear them sockless, with a lightweight trouser that’s hemmed at the ankle (or even just above, if you’re really feeling the warm weather look). If you’re wearing a suit, it’s probably safest to go with one that’s obviously made for the warmer weather – say, a cotton number in khaki or even green, or natural linen if that’s what you’re after, but an odd jacket and trousers will work just as easily.
There’s no need to buy something fancy, either. In fact, that sort of goes against the intent. White canvas plimsolls from brands such as Vans or Superga will look great, but if you’re really wanting to branch out you could try a leather slip on from Common Projects or Buttero. In all cases, stick to low-tops. Once you’ve picked your sneakers, the next and final step is to put them on your feet and never think about them again. After all, you’ve a life to enjoy.