Loafers are among the menswear pieces that are often overlooked, much like the bow tie. This is because they’re associated with the idea of being too hard to pull off or too preppy. Despite the stigma, loafers are an easy way to take your style to the next level. They are very versatile shoes– depending on the type, they’ll take you from a casual weekend to a black tie event with ease. Intrigued? Let us show you a few things to keep in mind when wearing loafers so that you look like you know what you’re doing.
Casual versus Dress
Most dress loafers can be worn casually, but not all casual loafers can be dressed up. Essentially, a casual loafer is anything made of suede or that has more than 2 colors, excluding tassel loafers. These can be worn with practically anything short of basketball shorts–from a t-shirt and jeans to chinos and a button-up. There isn’t much thinking to be done. Throw on a pair of loafers in place of your usual shoes to add a bit of class to your ensemble in moments.
For an outfit that’s more business casual, consider 1- or 2-tone leather loafers. A suit or your favorite blazer and slacks would make for a very stylish outfit. Now, anything beyond business casual gets a little hazy. In office settings, loafers do not really transcend business casual attire. That is, given their roots in casual wear, there’s a stigma attached to wearing them that makes formal business attire environments off limits for this particular shoe. Oddly enough, however, the loafer can be worn for formal settings outside the office, so you can feel safe rocking a pair at formal dinners or black tie events.
No matter the setting, loafers work best with form-fitting clothing–we’re talking slim, modern, and tapered fits. Loafers are sleek and minimal, and the pants (or shorts) leading to them ought to follow a similar aesthetic. Although you do have some freedom with what you wear on top (shirts can be slim, boxy, or intentionally oversized, if you like), your bottoms should ideally abide by this suggestion.
Most people will tell you that wearing loafers means no socks. Frankly, both looks (socks or sans sock) work, it’s just a matter of how you do it. When going “sockless”, we suggest no-show socks. They are the easiest way to protect your shoes and avoid sweaty feet. If you decide to forgo socks altogether, consider a foot powder and not wearing the loafers more than 1 day in a row to allow them to dry out properly. If you opt for socks, the idea is simple, since they’ll be more exposed than with other shoes, choose a pair of socks that complements the rest of your outfit. Solid and subtle colors are the easiest to pull off, but patterned socks aren’t completely out of the question, although they do require more thought.
Next time you’re wondering whether to pull the trigger on a fresh pair of loafers and you’re faced with a “can I pull this off?” moment, the answer is YES. You now know the basics. Start here, and allow your loafer game to grow naturally.
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