I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear. But, the clothes we wear are our first image of the world. It is how we choose to be seen by the people we interact with at any moment. Mark Twain’s saying “clothes make the man” has survived a century over because it holds some truth to it. The way you dress determines the opinion you want others to have of you. So go ahead and double-check that closet, make sure every item in there sends the message you want it to send. Loafers have made it to mainstream fashion just recently from their casual corner of the world. It is not uncommon to see them in the office and other official settings. But
Is it okay to wear loafers with a suit? No. Don’t wear loafers with a formal suit except casual slim-cut suits with casual fabrics. Leather loafers might work with semi-formal suits but most loafers are suede finish hence rugged, napped, and lacking the sheen of leather grains.
How to Wear Loafers with Casual Suits
As mentioned earlier, black tie and loafers don’t mix for such events, choose a pair of oxfords or Monk-Strap. You can wear loafers with casual suits. Casual suits include cotton, linen, and wools; tweed or flannel. Before we go on, here is how to tell the difference between a formal and casual suit:
|FORMAL SUITS||CASUAL SUITS|
|Darker, Solid Colors||Lighter colors including patterns|
|Structured jackets with heavy lining||Lighter and less structured jacket lining|
|Padded shoulders||Natural and less padded shoulders|
|Jetted and/or flapped pockets as opposed to patch pockets||Patch or flapped pockets|
|Peaked lapels and shawl lapels are more formal than notch lapels.||The fabrics are less “shiny” and are prone to wrinkle.|
|Sharp center creases down the pant legs||Suit pants have center creases but not always. Inner leg seam details are often more visible.|
The suede finish is always deemed more casual since it is rugged, napped, and rough. Suedes also lack the sheen of leather grains, which is why they don’t work with formal suits.
On the other hand, full-grain leather loafers are semi-casual, hence can be worn with formal suits. Therefore, if you are going for a business look, never choose suede loafers, always go for leather bit loafers.
Don’t choose loafers for a business or cocktail attire. But if you have to, go for leather pair of horse-bit loafers. However, if it is a 3-piece suit, completely ditch the loafers.
If you are going for business casual and want to wear loafers, ditch the suit. Suits shouldn’t be worn for business casual anyway.
Loafers and casual suits work best on occasions where blazers and sports coats can work, which include events such as casual weddings, garden parties, office dinners, and casual Fridays.
Loafers with or Without Socks
For decades, the question of whether to wear loafers with socks or without socks has raged on endlessly. There is no agreement on whether to wear socks or not. However, it all depends on your personal style.
However, penny loafers go with white socks as a classic look, especially if paired with jeans. Socks that contrast with the color and texture of your loafers are bold choices and patterned socks can improve a casual look.
Wearing socks or not wearing is also dependent on the type of lining your shoes have, the weather, and if your feet tend to sweat a lot.
Wearing socks for someone whose feet sweat a lot is a no-no especially due to the potential for odor. Also, wearing socks in summer can prove quite uncomfortable and if your shoes are lined with a warm lining, the socks might make the heat unbearable.
The appeal of loafers is in donning a sockless look. Loafers are meant to carry a relaxed casual appeal and wearing socks drags them down. However, if you are a socks person, choose invisibly or ankle socks.
Over-the-calf socks should be reserved for formal suits, which we don’t wear with loafers. Loafers’ design makes it uncomfortable to wear them with socks.
Types of Loafers and When to Wear Them
As loafers have become mainstream, there are many types that work for different suits and seasons.
- Espadrille loafers for men are probably the least style-able of all loafers. They are characterized by Woven or rope midsole with rubber outsole. These loafers are not your everyday wear and they are only good for the spring and summer. These loafers can easily be awkward, however, when styled well with khaki shorts or colored bottoms, they are good for a day on a Yacht.
- Boat loafers for men are extra lightweight and for those wishing to skip the socks. Although they are especially designed for men under 30, they were initially meant for sailors as they have a firm grip due to their rubber sole. Boat loafers have a rubber outsole and laces on top. They are fit for everyday casual wear but mostly fit for spring and summer.
- Driver loafers for men are meant for driving as the name suggests, since they are designed to offer comfort and extra grip on the pedal. They are characterized by Pebbled rubber outsole, laces on top. Despite the name, they are fit for various casual wears due to their flexibility, functionality, and comfort. If you wear them for non-driving purposes, they are best styled in Spring, Summer. These shoes work best with slim (not skinny) jeans, cotton shorts, and chinos. They project a laid-back look and can be paired with crew-neck T-shirt. They are ideal for road trips, sailing getaways, and summer vacations.
- Slipper Loafers for Men have no finishing on top and are one-piece material with minimal stitching. They are not your everyday wear as they are ideal for autumn seasons. They can be leather or suede. And while they can be dressed up on down, loafers and black tie do not mix. Slip-on loafers are ideal casual wear than can go with anything.
- Tassel Loafers for men are characterized by Tassel affixed to the top of the loafer and are worn casually or for semi-formal events. They are linked to the debonair character actor, Paul Lukas, who made them famous in the 1940’s after the world war. They are fit for everyday wear in Autumn and Summer. These shoes are ideal for a business casual look with an embellished look. They come in different colors such as black, brown, beige, and navy blue to create various casual looks.
- Kiltie Loafers for men are characterized by Kilt style finishing on top of the loafer. These were once considered shoes for the old man and most of us can remember seeing a grandpa wearing them. They are deemed the odd ones out among all loafers. Despite this, they are still casual and fun for loafer lovers.
- Horsebit Loafers for men are easily distinguishable by the golden metal strap shaped like a horse’s snaffle that is placed across the top. The Buckle across the top of the loafer gives off a retro sense and are ideal for everyday wear, especially during spring and summer. These shoes were popularized by Gucci, making them popular amongst American power players thanks to US President John F. Kennedy popularizing them. They work best with slim-fitting chinos and a dress shirt. Many will tell you that a dark pair of leather horsebit loafers are the only loafers you can wear with a formal suit.
- Penny Loafers for men are my personal favorites as they are traditional and classic. Their iconic elegance is characterized by their signature diamond cut-out in the strip of leather along the saddle. They were originally popular with college goers but later became mainstream thanks to luminaries such as Elvis Presley and JFK. Penny loafers are now the most popular loafers for men. They make a handsome profile with colors such as black, brown, beige, and navy blue for casual and semi-casual pairings. These loafers are sophisticated to the hilt.
What Outfit Goes Well with Loafers
Casual and casual smart are the best outfits for loafers. Loafers work best with slim-cut chinos, khakis, and slim jeans. No to skinny jeans and formal suits.
To look stylish and classy, go for chinos and a dress shirt with loafers and if you want to look casual, go for jeans and a t-shirt with loafers. Loafers make jeans more fashionable and dressier. Make sure the denim is short, above the ankle, if you want to wear them with loafers. No excessively long and baggy jeans with loafers, they are just horrific. Pair your denim with loafers and a blazer for a smart-casual combination.
You can wear slim-cut casual suits with loafers if you are liking for a semi-formal appeal. Make sure the pants are ankle-length.
Blue, creme, and khaki chinos are ideal with loafers for attending summer events as well as night events. This look is ideal when paired with a shirt or polo shirt, and a belt. No socks, they are simply tacky.
Loafers with shorts tend to give off a douchy or preppy look. But you can still rock them for polo and rooftop parties. Make sure the shorts are tailored and above the knees. Any color will work as long as you match them.
Your personal style is your personal brand and loafers speak volumes. If you are seeking a casual and laidback look, the loafers are for you. If your goal is to look formal, and you are wearing business attire, lose the loafers if want to make an impression. While loafers such as penny and horse-bit offer a classic and elegant look, they are still far from official wear. So, go for casual suits, chinos, and denim if you want to wear loafers. Shorts will also work with loafers. However, if your goal is a formal suit, a pair of monk-strap or oxfords are far better-suited than loafers. Now that you know, go out there and get ‘em!