Just as the delightfully lazy sounding name suggests, loafers were originally designed as house shoes. Granted, they were designed to be worn by the landed gentry in country houses… but don’t let that put you off.
The Anatomy of Loafers
The primary defining feature of loafers is that they are semi-formal slip on shoes. They are always made of leather, including more decorative leathers such as suede, woven leather and cordovan.
Loafers generally sit reasonably low on the ankle. Some styles feature elongated toe boxes, and they sometimes have decorations such as tassels or metal strips.
The History of Loafers
The first loafers were developed in the late 1800s by a shoemaker in London. The first design, which later came to be known as the Wildsmith Loafer, was created by Raymond Lewis Wildsmith as a casual house shoe for King George VI.
How to Wear Loafers
Loafers are the quintessential smart casual shoe. They can be worn with or without socks alongside various different kinds of outfit.
For smart casual occasions, loafers work well with smart jeans or chinos with a blazer. Decorative loafers such as tassel loafers can work particularly well with this kind of look.
Loafers can also be worn for more formal occasions. A pair of classic loafers can work really well with a lounge suit for both the office or a party. Remember to stick to brown leather loafers with navy suits and black leather loafers with grey or black suits.
Not sure whether to wear socks or not? It has become increasingly popular since the late 1990s to skip the socks altogether with loafers. However, during the cooler months especially you’re likely to want a little more coverage! Just remember that more of your socks are likely to be seen when you’re wearing loafers than other formal shoes; so avoid brightly coloured or patterned options.
Want more loafer inspiration? Read Esquire’s guide on how to master the loafer.