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You haven’t heard? We’re living in a post-sneaker society, dawg. The backlash to sneakerhead oversaturation has been swift and well-documented, and for the average guy who wants to look good but might not have his finger on the beating pulse, finding a warm-weather replacement for his New Balance 550s can be a monumental task. No need to fret, because there’s another shoe that’s equally easy to wear and suitable for a range of occasions — the loafer.
You’re probably familiar with the penny loafer design as a fan favorite for grandpas, and now, TikTok hotties, but there are tons of diffrent types of loafers, too, from lug soled joints on down, i.e. there’s a pair for your dainty feet, too. And not just because they’re the only alternative to sneakers (surprise: they’re not). The loafer has revealed itself to be a no-brainer, with a comfortable, slip-on fit and durability that comes with a leather shoe, and with a pivot to tailoring and irreverent looks, it’s never been easier to pair a…well, pair with your closet.
Which Loafers Are Right for Me?
As we mentioned, the genealogy of loafers is an expansive one. Our primary suggestion for any dude looking for that perfect part dress-part causal shoe is, of course, the simple penny loafer, which can be adequately worn with your newly purchased wedding suit and Patagonia baggies alike. If your lifestyle requires a dressier option, try a Venetian cut — indicated by a smooth, sans-cut-out upper that skews more formal than its penny loafer brethren. If you’re less interested in loafers and more interested in puddle-busting stompers, we’ll direct you to your classic lug-sole loafer, a behemoth of a dress shoe stacked on a chunky (hopefully Vibram) unit.
How to Wear Loafers
We get it. As a historically dressy style, you might harbor some reservations about how to incorporate the lowly loafer into your everyday wardrobe. We’ve already demonstrated one way of doing it — the underrated pairing with athletic shorts — but for the most part, it’s as simple as keeping the same outfits you’ve wearing and swapping out those slides and sneakers for a pair of penny loafers.
That being said, there are a few items of note for nailing the loafer. The sock choice is yours (we recommend a pair of white pile knit joints, though), but watch your pant break. Too long and you’ll drown the dress shoe, too short and you’re creeping into little-boy-boarding-school-territory. As always, match your leathers, too — no black loafer, oxblood belts, please.
Now that we’ve convinced you that the loafer life is a livable one, we feel it’s only fair to direct you towards the ones that you’ll actually want to wear. As such, we’ve rounded up our favorites, from G.H. Bass to Blackstock & Weber. Some are classically fashioned, while others sport giant lug soles or funky two-toned color blocking, but are guaranteed to worm their way into your daily footwear rotation. Below, the best men’s loafers in 2023.
The Best Men’s Loafers in 2023:
Ask any guy under the age of 40 what loafers he’s got on, and chances are, he’ll admit to rocking G.H. Bass. Hell, for that matter, ask any guy over 40, too. With over 150 years of history under their belts, the Wilton, Maine-based footwear company has been making America’s timeless penny loafer for what feels like forever, and it shows in the shoe’s functional construction, affordable price tag (you can routinely find Weejuns on sale) and iconic penny-slot look. Weddings, work, walks on the beach; they’re the best pair to start your loafer journey in…and maybe the best to finish it in, too.
Blackstock & Weber have been making a name for themselves as a serious Black-owned label with prestige collaborations and an exceptional end product. Don’t believe us? Feast your eyes on the Mason Horse-Bit Lug Loafer, the brand’s stalwart style and an incredible stomper in its own right. Handmade in Portugal with all the benchmarks of a premium shoe (Goodyear Welt, a Vibram 1757 Sole), these killers are a favorite of virtually every fashionable dude out there. Yes, they’re expensive, but can you really put a price on looking this fly?
If “flexing on ’em” is lower on your priority list than “trader of the month”, you’ll probably be agreeable to Cole Haan’s slightly more refined Pinch Tassel Loafer. It’s a solid leather work shoe option come summer, with a dressier look thanks to the lower lip and tassels. Plus, it’s well within most guys’ price range.
More of the Best Loafers:
Swedish-designed Morjas claims that it takes a whopping 128 steps to create their signature suede tassel loafer, and after giving the GoodYear Welted shoes a spin, we’re inclined to believe them. The Tassel Loafer bleeds luxe with every step: a timeless silhouette and premium chocolate upper make sure that you look as good in your power suit as your do in a pair of beat jeans.
It is decidedly hard to give “dandy” in 2023, but Marc Nolan’s sheepskin suede loafers make an admirable effort. The crepe sole provides the casual vibe a two-toned suede loafer demands, and the tan-white colorway should make every outing feel like a Riveria vacation.
J.Crew’s trusty Camden loafers are the perfect middle-of-the-road pick for any dude swayed by the power of the loaf — traditional enough in design (J.Crew claims to have based the design on the original 1930s college loafer) and versatile enough to wear with everything from chinos to baggies.
Sporting the same rubber sole as their derbie and oxford counterparts, the Dr. Martens Adrian Loafer is a vision in warm-weather punk footwear goodness (try saying that three times fast).
Whoa there, hotshot. Looking to make a splash? Vinny’s Two-Toned Townee Loafers put the fun in funkadelic, and dress up real nice (like, real nice) with a steal-the-wedding suit.
If jet setting is the name of the game for summer 2023, consider investing in the Astorflex Pantoflex Travel. Shockingly flexible for a leather slip-on, the hybrid espadrille-loafer combo makes every European vacation one pair easier.
We get it: you’re really into Succession (so are we, to be fair). Chances are, you don’t have Cucinelli money, but Allen Edmonds Venetian loafer looks the “fuck you money” part without the associated price tag.
Part penny loafer and part boat shoe, there’s no pair we’d rather reach for than Sperry’s Authentic when a trip to Newport — conversely, a boat ride around the city — is in order.
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