They're the ultimate summer shoe, taking your outfit from laid-back to chilled-out formal. You can't beat a loafer when it comes to both comfort and style. Here's everything you need to know about the best men's summer loafers.
They've found their way into many generation's wardrobes and are still a fail safe for both casual and formal events. Whether you're just nipping to the shop or a night out, they're a great shoe for every need.
They're particularly brilliant for warmer weather, smartening up your standard holiday shorts and shirt outfit, or that summer wedding, where you're after something a bit comfier to get you through the heat. They're a great investment and with a wide variety of choices, you'll find the perfect pair.
An important version is the Gucci loafer. While the loafer grew in stature in America, with the tassel loafer being worn with suits by the 1960s, it wasn't as loved as much in Europe. In Italy, this style of shoe was more widespread, but all other Europeans considered the loafer to be too casual.
However, things changed in 1968 when the Italian designer Gucci introduced a loafer with a golden brass strap in the shape of a horse’s snaffle bit across the front. Gucci opened his New York office in 1953 and noticed the popularity of the loafer. Admittedly the Gucci loafers aren't one of the cheap loafers for men, but it's one of the most iconic men's horsebit loafers.
He refined the lines, added the bit and made them in black (loafers were usually in brown). The result was a shoe with just enough formality to make it acceptable to be worn with suits. These went on to be named the Gucci Loafer and helped establish the loafer in Europe and across the globe. In 1969, Gucci sold 84,000 pairs just in their U.S. stores.
The Penny Loafer
In 1936, the G.H.Bass shoe company introduced its version of the loafer, and is still known for it. Their design included a distinctive strip of leather (the saddle) of the shoe with a diamond-shaped cut-out. They were named Weejuns (to sound like Norwegians) to differentiate them from the Spaulding loafer. Weejuns became immensely popular in America especially among the Prep School students in the 1950s, who coined the term Penny Loafer.
Men's Suede Tassel Loafers
It's unclear what the origin of the tassel loafers is. But it's supposedly that after WWII, the American movie character Paul Lukas bought a pair of Oxfords with little tassels at the end of the laces. When he returned to America, he took them to the New York shoemakers Farkas & Kovacs and asked them to make something similar.
Not fully satisfied, Lukas then took them to Lefcourt of New York and Morris Bookmakers of Beverly Hills. Both of them sent on the request to the Alden Shoe Company. The then President of Alden, Arthur Tarlow Sr., came up with a slip-on pattern, keeping the leather lace and tassel as a decoration. The Alden Shoe Co., realised the potential of the shoe and continued to experiment with the design for another year, finally launching it in 1950 through Lefcourt and Morris stores.
The tassel loafer - what they became known as - were a success. A pair of brown summer loafers with tassels will see you through the summer months. Alternatively, black leather loafers with tassels will be ideal for the cooler months.
This material is best if you're after a pair that you'll make the most out of, as they can take you through the whole year. They'll keep you cool in the warmer months, and keep your feet dry in the wetter months. They also add formality to an outfit, particularly if you stick to black and brown, but are able to dress down an outfit, such as with a plain white tee and a flannel suit. Bass Weejun loafers are a great leather option.
This is the better fabric for low key events, dressing down outfits and looking made up without trying too hard. You can find them in a variety of assortments, from tassels to penny loafer. They are a bit higher maintenance than leather as they need to be kept clean with suede cleaner, which keeps them looking newer and fresher for longer. If you want to know how to wear a pair of loafers in summer, then get yourself some suede ones. Go for a brown pair of summer loafers in suede to really get seasonal.
The loafer has many origin stories. One of these suggests that they derived from the moccasin. However the two most popular, widely regarded and accepted theories, are that they evolved from a Norwegian man who hybridised traditional Native American and Norwegian footwear. And the second, from an English royal commission of a new form of house shoe. The evolution of each type has its own story, from the tassel loafer to the penny loafer. Each adapted to fit its needs and cater to people's style. These are particularly best for summer.
The Best Summer Loafers for Men
- Investment is key when buying loafers - spend a bit of money and you'll get a pair that last.
- That said, leather are best for lasting, while suede loafers are great in summer and would be a great seasonal buy.
- The Gucci loafer really made the loafer style into a wardrobe staple.
- There are various types - tassle loafers and penny loafers for example are the most popular.
On That Note
By sticking to these three types of loafers and deciphering between leather and suede, you'll master summer loafer style. The range of options, such as colour, look and style means you'll undoubtably find a pair for every occasion, or even better, build a collection. Despite the different types of loafers having different origins, one things for sure: they're a great wardrobe addition, particularly for summer. They keep your feet cool and can both dress up and down an outfit. Depending on your favourite style, you'll have a keeper to take you through the year.