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Loafers are here to save the day (again).
Back in the Fifties, the slip-on shoes were an antidote to overly stuffy formal shoes. Today, they’re popping back up everywhere as a remedy for the overly casual fits that most of us became accustomed to during lockdown. In other words, they’ve become a much-needed option on occasions when sneakers are too relaxed and dress shoes are too stuffy.
If your closet is currently loafer-less — or you need a fresh pair — read on. Below are some of the best loafers for men to wear right now, including budget beaters and grail-worthy designer picks.
In This Article
The Best Loafers for Men
Loafer Buying Guide
How to Wear Loafers
The Best Loafers for Men
Usually, when a piece of clothing comes back into vogue, it’s really just one or two versions of that piece that people are wearing. But not loafers: Stylish dudes are rocking everything from classic penny loafers to swanky horsebits loafers to comfy sneaker-style loafers. We rounded up some of the top loafer brands here, including picks for every style and budget.
Editor’s Pick: Gucci Horsebit Loafers
Best Penny Loafers: G.H. Bass Larson Weejuns Loafers
Best Budget Loafers: Cole Haan American Classics Penny Loafer
Most Comfortable Loafers: Peter Millar Excursionist Venetian Loafer
Best Suede Loafers: Banana Republic Suede Penny Loafer
Best Chunky Loafers: Dr. Martens Adrian Loafer
Best Designer Loafers: John Lobb Bath Suede Loafers
1. Gucci Horsebit Loafers
Yes, they’re pricey, but if there was ever a piece of investment-worthy clothing, the Gucci Horsebit loafers are it. The shoe’s cool factor has just been increasing for decades, and they’re almost certain to keep paying large dividends to owners for years to come. Build quality is as good as it gets, and the square-toe and gold-tone horsebit something of an if you know you know fashion statement on their own. But the iconic shoes are surprisingly versatile considering their swagger, pairing easily with Levi’s and a t-shirt, or a swanky suit à la Harry Styles.
2. G.H. Bass Larson Weejuns Loafers
If you can’t swing the Gucci Horsebits (it’s OK, neither can we), these G.H. Bass Larson Weejuns are perhaps the best loafers around. They were the original loafer here in the U.S., and, luckily for us, G.H. Bass has maintained the original look and a reasonable price. The slip-ons are surprisingly comfortable and well-made, and they look even better with a few scuffs and creases.
3. Cole Haan American Classics Penny Loafer
Another excellent budget-friendly option is these penny loafers from Cole Haan. They showcase a classic upper and a slightly chunkier lug sole that’s both modern and more comfortable. We’re a big fan of the color options too, which range from adventurous two-tones to classic black and brown.
4. Peter Millar Excursionist Venetian Loafer
If most loafers feel a bit too dressy for your style, check out these Excursionist Venetian loafers from Peter Millar. With a rubber outsole and a soft suede upper, they’re just as comfortable as a pair of sneakers but pulled-together enough for business casual attire. Plus, the suede is water-resistant, so no need to worry about puddles or rain.
5. Banana Republic Suede Penny Loafer
Think of these suede loafers from Banana Republic as a going-out/date night hack. They’re classy yet relaxed, and the suede is flexible and comfortable (even without socks). Pair them with dark slacks and a white oxford shirt when headed to dinner or jeans and a dark polo for a put-together bar outfit.
6. Dr. Martens Adrian Loafer
Loafers can be edgy, as proven by these Adrian loafers from Dr. Martens. The brand’s signature punk details like yellow stitching and a semi-translucent sole contrast nicely with a tasseled upper, making the loafers an easy way to upgrade any casual outfits or chill out dressier ones. The black color is of course the easiest to wear, but you can also get more adventurous with white or green uppers.
7. John Lobb Bath Suede Loafers
If you want a pair of loafers that stand out (and last longer than others), check out these ridiculously luxurious John Lobb Bath loafers. Handmade in Northampton, the shoes slightly tweak the classic loafer look with a moc-stitched vamp, a noticeable heel, and an extra-supple suede construction. We see them padding around a creative’s corner office, but they work just as well for summer weddings, classy bars, and nice restaurants.
Loafer Buying Guide
There are an overwhelming amount of loafers out there. Here are some things to consider while choosing the right pair for your closet.
Material & Color: The first things to decide about your new loafers are color and material. All loafers are going to be either regular leather or suede. Regular leather is usually more durable and more versatile, but suede is always cool. As for color, we suggest starting with black or brown if these are your first loafers, and then getting more adventurous with two-tone colorways or bright hues for your second pair.
Vamp: Loafer vamps — the uppermost part of the shoe — usually comes in one of three styles: penny, tassel, or horsebit. Penny loafers are the classic look with a panel across the top that usually has a gap in the middle (where people used to stash pennies, giving the shoe its name). Tassel loafers are more playful and typically work better with more bold styles. Horsebits are somewhere in the middle, adding some extra flair but still mellow enough for simple, casual outfits.
Sole: Most of the best loafers for men have a leather outsole, but rubber soles are great too — especially if you’re going for a more casual look. Choose whichever feels right for your personal style.
How to Wear Loafers
The ceiling for loafer-based outfits is higher than ever. We’ve seen people rocking loafers with shorts and tees, jeans and polos, and crisp suits. The best loafers — such as the Gucci Horsebits or the Weejuns — can do it all with ease, while others are more style-specific. For example, suede loafers will be tricky to pull off with streetstyle outfits, while Dr. Martens might be too casual for some dressy attire. The bottom line though is to have fun, because that’s what the best loafers are all about.