When you hear the phrase “dress shoes,” where does your mind go? Chances are, it’s somewhere decidedly untrendy: stuffy lace-ups with baroque detailing that feel of a different era. That’s not to say those shoes don’t have their time and place, but they’re not a pair of shoes that scream “fun” in any capacity.
That’s not the case for loafers—not any longer, at least. Loafers are a go to staple for stylish guys because of their ease. Think about it, no laces to fuss with means you can slip them on and off, and they’re cushioned as the slippers or flip-flops folks got accustomed to wearing. The power of loafer is that it instantly elevates whatever you’re pairing them with, making a set of jeans have a bit more polish or working to tie together a suit. If you’ve yet to take a loafer for a spin, here are ten to check out, plus some expert commentary on why the shoes are having a moment.
What the Experts Say
“Loafers can be considered a trend the same way Sambas are right now—real ones know they never really left,” says Megan Collins, head of online styling service Style Girlfriend. “But I get it. Every few years, guys re-discover this versatile, sophisticated footwear, and a new generation of loafer lovers is born. I think they feel current, too, because they go with so much of what else is on-trend for guys right now. You can turn up the sophistication of a pair of workwear pants with loafers. Or finish off a cropped jean. You can wear them with shorts for that old-money aesthetic. There’s actually not much you can add a loafer to that won’t instantly elevate an outfit.”
For footwear brand founder Sebastian Malczewski of Marc Nolan, it’s all about ease. “[It’s about] versatility,” he says. “You can pair them with anything, either like a nice parka and a loafer. You can wear shorts with loafers. And then easy access. I travel a lot, so I just slide them off instead of lacing them up.”
G.H. Bass Larson Weejuns Loafer
When it comes to loafers, the Bass Weejuns are the best bet—whether they’re your first or fifty-first pair. Weejuns were popularized around 1935, when Esquire writers spotted a similar-looking pair in Palm Beach, Florida. From there, an insatiable hit was born, worn by everyone from Miles Davis to Steve McQueen. They’re trendy enough to be worn with vintage denim on date night or dressed up with a suit for a wedding. Under $200, they sit right at the intersection of affordability and style, which means it won’t cost a lot for you to look really, really great.
Blackstock & Weber “Ellis” Lug Sole Penny Loafer
Brooklyn’s Blackstock & Weber makes some of the very best loafers around, and they’re well-suited to those who are already in love with the shoe but maybe want something different to round out their rotation. Case in point: This souped-up, lug sole version is basically a loafer with an attitude you’d find someone on the Sharks or the Jets wearing. But they work just as great as a first pair, too, thanks to that striking pebble-grain leather.
Tecovas “The Monterrey” Suede Loafer
Recently, boot maker Tecovas debuted its first slip-on loafer—dubbed The Monterrey—and what a hell of a debut it is. The same pride and attention to detail the brand puts into every single one of its boots can now be found in a striking set of slipper-style loafers that are begging to be your summer-go to option. While there are a few different hues to choose from, we recommend the honey suede for maximum versatility.
Viberg Slipper Asfalto Loafer
Those looking for luxury beyond compare will want to snag Viberg’s loafer, which the brand refers to as a slipper. Entirely cut from a single piece of leather, the Goodyear welted upper (which means you can easily replace the sole when it wears out) sits upon a cushioned latex sole. Basically, they call this the slipper because it’ll feel like you’re slipping on your favorite pair of sleep shoes.
Our Legacy Loafer
Among diehard men’s fashion enthusiasts, Our Legacy’s name means a lot. The epitome of cool, the Swedish brand is devoted to elegant yet minimalistic silhouettes, including this tassel loafer. With just a touch of chunky design in the toe box and then slimmed out throughout the rest of the loafer, these will be sure to turn heads.
Marc Nolan “Odell” Woven Leather Loafers
Lightweight while managing to pack a heavyweight stylistic punch, these woven leather loafers channel Mediterranean vibes. Imagine hanging out on the Italian Rivera with these on, sipping an Aperol Spritz, and otherwise having the time of your life. In that daydream, you’re wearing these loafers, aren’t you?
Duke + Dexter x Checks Downtown Bit Loafer
Duke+Dexter is known for the fun (and sometimes fuzzy) take on shoes, but few are fuzzier or more entertaining than these loafers developed in collaboration with New Zealand brand Checks Downtown. An eye-catching set of gold horse bits are accented by a buttery and supple tongue with a perfectly in-style olive. The long-hair suede is the metaphorical cherry on top.
Cole Haan Pinch Penny Loafer
Cole Haan’s classic-style penny loafer is about as straightforward as loafers come. Typical doesn’t have to mean boring, especially when the pair is as elegant and well-suited to pairing alongside everything in your wardrobe as these are. Plus, Cole Haan’s cushioned insole means you’ll get a cozy feeling when you slip them on to wear.
Yuketen Suede Moc “Ischia” Horsebit Loafer
Famously popularized by Gucci, horse bit loafers are the pinnacle of loafers, conveying a certain status. Luckily for you, there are plenty of great bit loafers that require a visit to luxe designers, like these from Yuketen. The moc-style shoe means the suede is already incredibly soft, which reduces the overall break-in time, making it so they’re ostensibly ready to wear out of the box. If you need a swanky shoe for your next formal event, make it these.