Of all the style stars to appear in our first post-pandemic summer lookbook, the loafer undoubtedly shone brighter than the rest. Loafers were the necessary shoe to transition from the house slippers we’d worn the entirety of 2020 (i.e. Year of the Couch). With slide-right-on appeal and laceless comfort, the effortlessly snazzy loafer patiently showed us we can dress up again with minimal effort. And we can do it our way. Men’s loafers are flexible. They’re happy to be paired with breezy shorts, ripped jeans, pressed chinos, and wool suit trousers you need to dust off for this year’s insanely busy wedding season.
With the sheer variety of styles that fit under today’s loafer umbrella, from the classic pennys to tasseled moccasins to backless drivers, the shoe named after the act of loafing around could very well trigger a street style challenge. So we’re here to help with our 10 picks of the greatest loafers around, from the most celebrated heritage shoemakers to up-and-coming labels you’ll want to follow. Ready? Set? Slide.
1. G.H. Bass & Co. Logan Flat Strap Weejuns
Chances are any loafer “best of” list will include a pair of Bass Weejuns. They’re about as classic as it gets—and available at a great price point to boot. The stalwart Maine shoemaker introduced the Logan to be a scratch more modern-looking than the original, trendsetting penny loafer it invented. The brand’s skillful handiwork dates back to 1936.
[$110 ; ghbass.com]
2. Vinny’s Le Club Black Croco
This Copenhagen-based brand stepped onto the stage just prior to the pandemic, aiming to rep the “footwear classics of tomorrow”—and that just happens to be a series of deeply stylish loafers. Go from dusk till dawn in the glossy “croco” version of the Le Club slip-ons, which come in neutral tones with a soft calfskin lining and tough-as-nails but lightweight Vibram rubber sole.
3. George Cleverley Bradley III Leather-Trimmed Pebble-Grain Suede Penny Loafers
To experience the pinnacle of British craftsmanship, slip on a pair of these pebble-grain, suede-trimmed leather loafers. They’re still hand-crafted by the virtuoso shoemakers of Northampton, which has been the hub of the UK’s shoemaking industry for hundreds of years.
4. Jack Erwin Decker Driving Loafer
Jack Erwin’s fits-like-a-glove (err, sock?) Decker loafer is engineered with a snug, tailored fit. It’s lined entirely with leather on the interior and armed with a high-density microfoam for cloud-like comfort. This slick, budget-friendly pick has a full rubber outsole for added durability.
5. Officine Creative Airto Suede Loafers
Officine Creative uses its proprietary “leather time machine”—a device that mimics the human touch—to produce killer footwear that feels broken in fresh out of the box. The brand’s line of loafers range from chunky moccasins to ultra-pliable suede loafers, but we’re fawning over the slim-soled Airtos for everyday wear.
6. PS by Paul Smith ‘Springfield’ Driving Loafers
Constructed from a single piece of soft leather, these driving loafers offer solid flexibility with each step. A leather drawstring capped with silver hardware circumnavigates the ankle to maintain a snug fit. Additionally, a treaded rubber outsole grips the pavement like a suction cup.
7. Gucci Men’s Leather Horsebit Loafer with Web
So what if Gucci’s signature loafers haven’t deviated much from the original 1950s design? We wouldn’t have it any other way—and that includes the horse-bit detail and red-and-green web stripe, two iconic embellishments that continue to define the Florentine fashion house’s aesthetic. This particular pair is designed with a foldable heel that reads a little less preppy when flipped down.
8. Paul Stuart Hope Slip-On Loafer
Made in Italy, Paul Stuart’s Hope Slip-On Loafers have a slipper-like feel and silhouette, available in supple, black, buffed leather with an almond moc toe. The suede tassels and grosgrain trim at the heel definitely pump up the swank factor—but this is still a casual shoe at heart.
9. Sebago Classic Dan
Sebago may be a boat shoe aficionado, but it dreamed up the Classic Dan as a thoroughbred penny loafer sharp enough to make Dad look like a style icon. The Maine brand didn’t steer too far from the dock, though. They added in durable, waterproof natural leather soles and a leather sock lining so you can wear ‘em with bare feet year-round.
10. Kenneth Cole Nolan Penny Loafer
Kenneth Cole’s Nolan penny loafers score high marks for comfort, thanks to a thoughtful array of features. There’s an insole cushioned with a shock-absorbent gel footpad. There’s also a back pull tab for easy slide-on, slide-off (your shoehorn’s nemesis). Grab a pair in versatile greige to pack for any event, from a Malibu beach wedding to an après-ski soirée in Aspen.
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