From bright spring days through the long evenings of high summer, the loafer is a warm-weather MVP. Combining the lightweight ease of a casual slip-on with the elegance of traditional welted shoes, a good loafer holds the rare distinction of being a genuine all-rounder. Particularly now that dress codes have relaxed and show no sign of turning back, loafers have a renewed relevance in a man’s footwear wardrobe.
The most versatile among loafers is the classic penny. A rounded toe and a chunky hand-sewn apron make for a relaxed, casual piece that’s conservative enough to pair with tailored trousers but equally at home with chinos or even shorts. With no laces to tie and no occasion unsuitable, a good penny loafer will quickly become the mainstay of a warm-weather wardrobe. And that’s no bad thing—loafers will only increase in comfort and appeal with regular wear.
Tassel loafers are a more eye-catching alternative. Historically favored by a certain breed of East Coast lawyer (even being cited in a dis by Ronald Reagan), the tassel has largely shed its political associations and reconnected to its Ivy roots. In black calf, the tassel loafer is a serious dress shoe, but in chocolate suede, it’s softened into something more playful; less a straight face than a raised eyebrow.
The horsebit loafer is the rebel of the family. The Gucci model made famous by Wall Street traders is iconic, extravagant, and a little aggressive, though more recently other makers have started to offer designs that suggest calmer confidence.
Our picks for those styles, and every other essential loafer, below.
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