According to our Gregorian calculations, right about now is the time stylish gentlemen across the country will begin to swap all of their other styles of footwear for the humble loafer.
Because slipping on a loafer is as much a state of mind as it is a style choice. Yes, practical wisdom will tell you to don a loafer and bare ankle in warmer climes, but there’s also something intrinsically spring-y about the shoe and the way it breaks from the bundled-up fashions of fall and winter: the lack of laces, the unanimously low cuts, the jaunty accents (tassels, e.g.) — these are signs that more casually dressed times await.
But take note, gents: as versatile as the loafer is for any and all springtime engagements, there exist different styles, and each comes with its own norms and no-nos. You’ll find those styles below, in all of their casual (and at times, formal) glory.
The Penny Loafer
A tried-and-true collegiate prep classic which got its name after young men in the ‘60s began putting coins in the shoes’ eye slots in case they needed to make a pay-phone call. The style — also marked by handsewn moccasin construction — has remained largely the same.
Quoddy True Penny Loafer
A build-your-own option from Quoddy that offers all manner of colors to suit all tastes. $325
John Lobb Aley
A minimalist number that passes on the penny slot for a decidedly more refined look. $1,175
J.M. Weston 180 Moccasin Loafers
A well-made slip-on that reminds us of our grandpap’s kicks, but way more stylish. $855
The Driver Loafer
A style that came up through Italy’s driving culture, the Driving Loafer differentiates itself from other styles with rubber nubs on the heel and sole. The extra traction offers — you guessed it — added comfort for drivers. These days, this particular variant gives its wearer a dash of jaunt. Think of it as the happy medium between casual and formal.
Embossed suede to add an extra layer of texture to any Sunday drive. $395
Jack Erwin Parker
Few things are better than 100% suede Drivers. Well, except for 100% suede Drivers available in eight handsome colors. $115
New Republic Friar Driver
A no-fuss leather variant that looks the part of well-worn Penny Loafer. $69
The Tassel Loafer
The Tassel Loafer is simply the Penny Loafer dressed up. Strictly for decoration, the faux leather lacing turns the loafer into an elegant shoe that can be paired with a casual suit or sophisticated weekend wear.
Allen Edmonds Acheson Tassel Dress Loafers
A wardrobe staple for those who have more tweed jackets than anything else. $395
Baudoin & Lange Tassel Loafer
The epitome of English cool — helps that these are handmade in London. $400
Frye Aiden Tassel
A polished number that hits all the right prep notes. $398
The Bit Loafer
First developed by Gucci in the ‘50s, the Bit Loafer brings the casual and formal worlds together with the affixing of a metal snaffle bit where the Penny Loafer would have its eye slot. Much like the tassel, the metal is ornamentary. Once a shoe reserved for flashy business ensembles, today’s Bit Loafers have loosened up a bit.
Rancourt Buckle Loafer
A rugged, utilitarian take on Gucci’s famous metal bit. $340
Cole Haan Pinch Gotham Bit Loafer
A seemingly modest all-black loafer that means business. $200
Gucci Horsebit Leather Loafer
An updated loafer from Gucci that’s meant to be worn like your favorite slipper. $650