Let a loafer define a new you.
Loafers have been on a resurgence since early 2021 and it’s a trend we’re here for every step of the way. We’ve emerged (partially) from the pandemic, and we want to show off. Maybe this means we’ll see ourselves dive headfirst into a decade of Dionysian excess, reliving the Roaring Twenties 100 years later, or maybe it’ll mean we just want to put some nice shoes on our feet. While we’re sworn fans of Wallabees (there’s not a day that goes by when a pair isn’t in the office) and all that suede goodness, there ought to be room in the wardrobe for numerous pairs of smart-casual shoes. Enter: the loafer.
So we’ve rounded up a small selection of our favourites, from tassels to pennies, through high-end and well priced, with a couple of curveballs thrown in for good measure. Prepare for a new you, a smarter you, a more comfortable you.
BEST LOAFERS FOR UNDER 150 BEANS
There’s no cap to the amount of hard earnt moular you can splash on a pair of loafers. The sky is the limit until it isn’t. Feel the red hot pressure of social media glaring at you? The burning hot touch of consumerism? We don’t always want to part ways with bank, and sometimes, if you shop around, it’s a lot more satisfying to snag a bargain.
Paris’ Adieu is on discount at John Anthony, from £400 to a comfortable £145. The Type 5 Classic is a polished leather loafer with a signature crepe sole. The shape expands slightly at the base of the toes, working itself into slightly chunk territory.
BONUS: the silhouette similarities between these and a certain high-end pair are uncanny…
THE BEST PENNY LOAFER
Back in the day, when pay phones were a penny and it was mandatory that you never left the gaff without dapper shoes and a dapper hat, there was a genius cobbler working ungodly hours for minimal pay and reward. He put a slit onto an extra layer of leather that he attached across a shoe’s upper, and whether he knew it or not, invented a style of shoe that we’re still talking about today: the penny loafer. Go on, stash a penny in the top of a pair, and the next time you need to know someone’s thoughts, you’ll be well equipped.
Look at this beautiful pair from G.H. Bass & Co., who’ve been making loafers since 1876. The Clayton Larson Pull Up is a direct recreation of one of G.H. Bass & Co.’s original models, and has stood the test of time, earning the El Classico award for a reason.
THE BEST TASSEL LOAFER
Nothing says luxury like some tassels. What’s the point of them? Does looking good need a point? The tassels, dangling elegantly from the upper of a shoe, are the shoemaker’s equivalent of a pineapple standing proudly at the gates to a house. Look at the flair. Tassels? Why not.
This pair from Crockett & Jones embodies the simplicity of a slip-on tassel, skirting the chunk associated with many modern loafer iterations.
BONUS: Crockett & Jones was established in Northampton in 1879, during an era when the city was renowned for it’s wealth of shoe-making skills. The brand is so heritage that James Bond wore a pair for Skyfall.
THE MOST COMFORTABLE LOAFER
The biggest worry when buying new shoes: am I gonna get blisters? Do I have to ween them into my wardrobe like the inverse of a drug addict tapering off the hard stuff? Well, yes and no. A bit of inverted tapering is a well-advised caution with any new pair of shoes. And then, when the shoes have moulded to your feet? A high like you’ve never experienced.
The Dr Martens Adrian Tassel Loafer will feel like it has formed some sort of biochemical bond with your feet. The leather will become perceptually inseparable from your skin and bone. The Adrian will, for all intents and purposes feel as snug as a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. Wiggle your big toe, you say, and the shoe looks up at you, “no problem, chief.”
THE BEST LOAFERS FOR DANCING
Some of the aforementioned pieces are wide bois and that’s not an issue. But you can’t moonwalk in shoes that have more in common with a tank than with a 1969 Maserati Spyder. For that, you need a sleek pair of shoes that embody classic design with a touch of flair.
Enter: G.H. Bass & Co.’s Weejuns Larson penny loafer in black and white. A second feature on this list, and for good measure: the Weejun is a hero in the penny loafer world, and this black and white rendition puts an unquantifiable confidence in your step, guaranteed to make you feel the bollocks, whether you’re dancing to jazz or marching through Ancoats on your way to the office.
THE BEST LOAFER FOR A EUROPEAN SOJOURN
Every now and then the temptation to hop to the continent and swan around is overwhelming. Want to look positively at ease while maintaining a sophisticated air in Rome? Or perhaps you need to look utterly unbothered outside a Parisian cafe? Whatever the weather, Sebago has a unique boat shoe loafer fusion that looks fresh off the boat in all the best ways.
The brown waxed leather and upper of a penny loafer are combined with the rustic eyelets and threads of a boat shoe to create a hybrid that subtly builds on all the best bits of Sebago’s classic Dockside model from the ’70s. It’s nonchalant and affirmative – just like you as you sip tiny black coffees and repeat the same four phrases of the local language to show that not all English are ignorant.
THE BEST BUDGET-BREAKING HIGH-END LOAFER
Run that Klarna up. There’s no loafer out there as classy, as brazen, as braggadocio as a pair of Prada Chocolate Loafers. It’s as simple as that.
Yeah, Gucci’s loafers are nice, too. But sometimes, the double G makes you look like a bit of a tit. Sorry, Adam Driver, but it’s all Gucci this, Gucci that. New money, whatever. Conor McGregor’s favourite brand? You guessed it. Prada is elegant and timeless and holds itself in a way that other brands can’t replicate. Prada knows who it is. Does Gucci?
AND FINALLY: A CURVEBALL LOAFER THAT ISN’T A LOAFER
There’s a piece in Vittles – a food writing newsletter – that tries to get to the bottom of what a kebab is. It starts with a dissection of the filling, then the bread, then the cooking methods. There are varying conclusions: a hotdog qualifies as a kebab, any single meat qualifies as a kebab, a sandwich is a kebab. Eventually, the final conclusion is reached: anything can be a kebab.
Moncler and Suicoke took this same approach with the pepper loafer. What defines a loafer? Is it the sole? The shape? The ease of foot insertion? Who knows. But they’ve called this a loafer which means it must be, and we respect the audacity. It’s down-filled, made of nylon and rubber and there are drawstrings on it, for god’s sake. Genius.