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Types of Men’s Loafers Explained

Loafers are always a great addition to any man’s wardrobe. They are a stylish and functional option that can be worn with almost anything.

However, not all loafers are created equal. There are a variety of styles to choose from, each of which has its unique features and benefits.

Today we’ll be going over some of the most popular types of men’s loafers, including driving loafers, penny loafers, tassel loafers, and more.

Wondering how to wear these loafer styles? Not to worry, we’ll also be talking about that as well.

So, if you’re ready to add some stylish and functional loafers to your closet, keep reading.

Related: Best Loafers for Men

Visual Comparison

If you want a quick overview and to see the visual differences between the different types of loafers, check out this handy infographic:

types of mens loafers

Here you can see there are eight different types of men’s loafers (don’t worry, we’ll cover them all below).

Boat Shoes

boat shoe
Source: nordstrom.com

Boat shoes are a classic nautical-inspired style. They typically have leather or canvas uppers and non-marking rubber soles.

Boat shoes are versatile and can be worn with nearly any outfit, from casual ensembles to semi-formal looks. They are also great for wearing on the water, as the non-marking rubber soles won’t leave scuff marks on the deck of the boat while still providing the necessary grip.

  • Season: Boat shoes are best worn during warmer months, including spring and summer.
  • Occasion: Given the more casual nature of boat shoes, they are best suited for casual occasions only.
  • How to Wear Boat Shoes: Boat shoes pair well with many different outfits, from shorts and tees to chinos and button-down shirts. Consider wearing a polo shirt and khaki shorts for a more put-together look.

Espadrille

Espadrille Loafer
Source: nordstrom.com

Espadrilles are a summertime staple. This slip-on shoe style typically has a canvas or denim upper and a rope or jute sole. This type of shoe became mainstream thanks to brands such as TOMS and Havaianas.

Espadrilles are great for casual summer outfits and can easily be paired with shorts or chinos.

  • Season: As espadrilles are a summertime only shoe.
  • Occasion: Casual occasions such as picnics or trips to the beach.
  • How to Wear Espadrilles: Because espadrilles are such a casual shoe style, they should be paired with equally casual clothing such as shorts, tees, and denim.

Driving Moccasin

Driving Loafer
Source: nordstrom.com

A driving moccasin is a type of loafer that is designed for, you guessed it, driving. This shoe style typically has a rubber sole with a bit of extra grip that extends up the heel to prevent slipping while driving.

Driving moccasins are a great choice for any man looking for a stylish and comfortable shoe to wear. In addition, the added support and cushioning found within these shoes, say compared to an Espadrille, make them a great choice for extended wear.

  • Season: Driving moccasins can be worn all year round, although they are best suited for spring, summer, and fall.
  • Occasion: Driving moccasins are versatile shoes that can be worn with either casual and semi-formal attire.
  • How to Wear Driving Moccasins: For a casual look, pair driving moccasins with jeans or chinos, a t-shirt or polo, and a casual blazer. Consider wearing dress pants, a button-up shirt, and a sport coat for semi-formal attire.

Horsebit Loafer

Horsebit Loafer
Source: nordstrom.com

The Horsebit loafer is a distinctive type of shoe sold by Gucci. Invented in the 1950s, this loafer style features a horse-bit ornament on the front upper and comes in a variety of colors and patterns (source). Given the formal nature of this shoe, it is best saved for dressier occasions or in an office setting.

  • Season: Horsebit loafers are a year-round shoe, although most men will wear them during the spring, summer, and fall months.
  • Occasion: The Horsebit loafer is a dressier shoe that is best suited for office settings or more formal occasions such as weddings or parties.
  • How to Wear Horsebit Loafers: To get the most out of your Horsebit loafers, pair them with dress pants and a button-up shirt. However, they shouldn’t be worn with a tuxedo or black-tie events.

Kiltie Loafer

Kiltie Loafer
Source: nordstrom.com

The Kiltie loafer is another distinctive style of shoe that features an over-the-vamp motif that is often paired with tassels. The kiltie loafers unfairly get associated with older gentlemen, but they can be stylish and sophisticated shoes when worn correctly.

  • Season: Kiltie loafers are typically seen during the spring months but can be worn during summer and fall.
  • Occasion: The kiltie loafer is best worn with casual to semi-formal attire.
  • How to Wear Kiltie Loafers: To get the most out of your kiltie loafers, pair them with chinos or dark-wash jeans, a button-up shirt, and a blazer.

Penny Loafer

Penny Loafer
Source: nordstrom.com

The Penny loafer is a classic style of shoe that has been around for decades. This type of shoe features a leather strap across the vamp with a metal ring (or penny) opening in the center. This shoe was made popular by G.H. Bass, and is often sold under the name Weejun.

Of all the loafers on this list, the penny loafer is one of the most versatile. It can be worn with casual or semi-formal attire and will add a touch of class to any outfit.

  • Season: Penny loafers can be confidently worn during spring, summer, and fall.
  • Occasion: The penny loafer is a versatile and casual shoe that can be worn for a variety of occasions.
  • How to Wear Penny Loafers: Penny loafers can be worn with jeans, chinos, shorts, and khakis. Pair them with dress pants, a button-up shirt, and a jacket for a more formal look. Just make sure the color matches your belt.

Related: Types of Monk Shoes

Slipper Loafer

Slipper Loafer
Source: nordstrom.com

The Slipper loafer is the most casual and relaxed style of loafers. This shoe has a moccasin or rounded toe and typically lacks any type of lacing or support. As the name suggests, slipper loafers are meant to be worn casually and are often paired with cuffed dress pants or chinos.

Usually, slipper loafers are commonly associated with ultra-luxury fashion brands, including Chrisitan Louboutin, George Cleverley, Gucci, and Tom Ford.

  • Season: Slipper loafers are best worn during the summer.
  • Occasion: The slipper loafer is a casual shoe that is meant to be worn during leisurely activities or when traveling. You don’t want to take a high-stakes business meeting or first date in these.
  • How to Wear Slipper Loafers: To get the most out of your slipper loafers, pair them with silk or linen dress pants.

Tassel Loafer

Tassel Loafer
Source: nordstrom.com

The Tassel Loafer is a classic style of shoe that is equally popular as the Penny Loafer. This type of loafer also features a leather strap across the vamp and includes tassels on the upper (where it gets its name). The Tassel Loafer is often seen as a more formal shoe than the Penny Loafer and is most commonly worn during the fall and winter months.

  • Season: Tassel loafers are best worn during the summer and fall months.
  • Occasion: The Tassel loafer is a dressier shoe suitable for semi-formal occasions.
  • How to Wear Tassel Loafers: To get the most out of your tassel loafers, pair them with dress pants, a button-up shirt, and a blazer or sport coat. While formal, you shouldn’t pair these with a suit or tuxedo.

Materials

When browsing any selection of men’s loafers, you’ll likely come across various materials. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Leather: Leather loafers are a classic choice that never goes out of style. The grade of leather will range anywhere from full-grain to top-grain to genuine.
  • Suede: If you want a more casual look and feel to our loafers, opt for a pair made of suede. Just be aware that they will show wear and tear more easily than leather.
  • Synthetic: Man-made fabrics such as polyurethane or microfiber are often used in loafers. These materials are cheaper than leather and can be just as durable.
  • Velvet: Some loafers, particularly those with a more formal look and feel, are made with velvet. These materials are great for the winter or holiday season.
  • Canvas: Found in Espadrilles and some boat shoes, canvas is a breathable and casual material. It’s an animal-friendly option as well.

Colors

Loafers range wildly in terms of color, so it’s important to consider what you’ll be wearing them with. Black is always a safe choice and can easily be dressed up or down. However, for a more formal look, brown and burgundy are popular options as well.

Bold colors such as blue, white, and red are great for a second or third pair of shoes, as they can really stand out and add a pop to your outfit.

Loafer Brands

BrandLocationYear Founded
GucciFlorence, Italy1921
TimberlandStratham, NH, United States1952
SperryWaltham, MA, United States1935
Kenneth ColeNew York City, NY, United States1982
Robert GrahamNew York City, NY, United States2001
George CleverleyLondon, England1958
FlorsheimGlendale, WI, United States1892
ClarksStreet, Somerset, England1825
Edward GreenNorthampton, England1890
Oliver CabellMinneapolis, MN, United States2015
Loro PianaQuarona, Italy1924
SantoniBrescia, Italy1975
Christian LouboutinParis, France1991
G.H. BassWilton, ME, United States1876
DockersSan Francisco, CA, United States1986
MuloLondon, England2012
NisoloNashville, TN, United States2011
TOMSLos Angeles, CA, United States2006

Price

As with all things fashion-related, the price of your loafers will largely vary based on the brand. However, materials and popular styles will also affect the price.

Therefore, you can expect to spend anywhere from $75 to $500 or more on a pair of loafers.

Seasons

If you are uncertain when you should be wearing your loafers, just remember that they are primarily warmer weather shoes (boots should be worn for the cooler times of the year). We put together a table with some recommended seasons for wearing loafers.

Loafer TypeSpringSummerFallWinter
BoatYesYesNoNo
EspadrilleNoYesNoNo
DrivingYesYesYesNo
HorsebitYesYesYesSometimes
KiltieYesSometimesNoNo
PennyYesYesYesSometimes
SlipperNoYesNoNo
TasselSometimesYesYesNo

Of course, these aren’t rigid rules by any means. Many people enjoy wearing their loafers all year round, regardless of the weather.

Ultimately, it’s up to you when you want to break out your loafers. Just be sure to take care of them, so they last for seasons to come!

How to Wear Loafers With a Suit

When wearing a pair of loafers with a suit, it’s important to remember that they are still considered casual. Therefore, you should avoid pairing loafers with black-tie attire or a tuxedo

Instead, opt for dark navy or gray suits and select loafers made of leather or suede in a brown color.

You’ll also want to keep your trousers fitted, as loose-fitting pants will create an unflattering silhouette and draw too much attention to your feet. It’s your option whether to wear no-show socks or over-the-calf dress socks.

How to Wear Loafers With Jeans

The loafers should match the intent of the outfit. If you are going casual, then espadrille or canvas loafer would suffice. A boat shoe may also work depending on the look you are going for.

If you are trying to strike a more semi-formal or smart casual look, then a leather back or brown loafer paired with dark denim jeans would do the trick. In this instance, you would want to wear socks with your loafers to ensure they look dapper. Additionally, you can cuff your jeans to add a bit of contrast and show off the loafers.

How to Wear Loafers With Socks

loafer with socks
Don’t do this…

Wearing loafers with dress socks is tricky, but can be pulled off in a few different ways.

If you want to wear loafers with socks for a more formal look, closely match your socks to your pants. This will help create a seamless, cohesive look. Of course, if you want to add a dash of style or personality, feel free to experiment with patterned or colorful socks.

On the other hand, if you want that barefoot look with your loafers, then put on a pair of no-show socks. These are typically made of a thin, form-fitting material that will stay hidden beneath the collar of your loafers.

Whatever you do, do not go barefoot in your loafers. This will cause odor, blisters, and moisture will make the shoe rot from the inside out.

Common Questions

Are loafers still in style in 2022

Absolutely! There is no time like the present for loafers, as they continue to be one of the most versatile and stylish footwear options year-round. There’s a reason that this type of shoe has been in existence since the early 1900s, so you can rest assured that they will look good on your feet for years to come.

How do I clean my loafers?

Cleaning your loafers is straightforward. For everyday cleaning, simply use a damp cloth or paper towel to remove dust, dirt, or debris from the shoe’s surface. If there is a more stubborn stain, you can try using a shoe cleaner or a light leather conditioner.

For deeper cleaning, use a soft-bristled brush to remove stains from the surface of the loafers. Then, use a damp cloth to gently scrub away dirt and grime that may have accumulated in crevices and other hard-to-reach areas. Finally, use a leather conditioner or shoe cream to buff the shoe’s surface and restore its natural luster.

Remember to always test any cleaners or conditioners on an inconspicuous area of the shoe before applying it to the entire surface. This will help you avoid any accidental damage or discoloration. We put together a comprehensive guide to leather care if you want to learn more.

Are loafers only for older gentlemen?

Contrary to popular belief, loafers are not just for older gentlemen. This type of shoe can be worn by anyone, regardless of age or gender.

So whether you’re a young professional in need of a new pair of work shoes, or a college student looking for a stylish and comfortable way to get around campus, loafers are a great option.

What is the difference between a loafer and a moccasin?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but some subtle differences exist between loafers and moccasins.

For starters, moccasins are typically made from softer materials like suede or leather, typically featuring a more decorative design. On the other hand, loafers are made from sturdier materials like leather or canvas, and they usually have a more streamlined look.

Is it okay to wear loafers to a formal event?

In most instances, no. Loafers are generally considered to be casual shoes, so they should not be worn to formal events such as weddings or black-tie affairs. Consider wearing oxford or derby shoes instead.

Adam Williams

As the lead editor of Tools of Men, Adam is an expert in all things men's grooming and style. When you don't find him reading up on the latest style trends, he likes to go jogging, attempt to distinguish the differences between IPAs, and play sports with his kids.

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