Loafers have been having what we in the business call “a moment” for a while now, but the best loafers for men feel more hyper-relevant than ever before. What other shoe, pray tell, is better suited to this particular time: laceless and comfortable like the slippers you’ve been lounging in for months; sharp and stylish enough for the post-vax life you’ve been dreaming about for those same months? (Sigh.) Convinced you need a pair—or five—in your spring rotation? Here’s what you should know.
How do I choose one?
Simple: think about what you’re going to wear them with, and then refine your search accordingly. (For more styling how-to, see below.) Once you’ve found a pair of that’s right for you and your wardrobe, slip ‘em on without a second thought, and ascend to verified style god status. It really is that easy. What you should be asking yourself is: How do I choose only one?
Which brands should I turn to?
Thanks to the Great Loafer Boom of 2022, you’ve never had more options—from heritage menswear brands and big-name designers and tiny startup labels alike. When in doubt, dust off your favorite dress shoes, double-check who makes them, and then review their loafer selection too. Chances are they sell a bang-up pair.
What should I wear them with?
Good nows on this front: there’s not a damn thing in your wardrobe that a loafer won’t work with. Jeans (weird or otherwise), trousers (with pleats or without), shorts—especially the shorts of summer—and beyond. In other words: just about everything. And no matter the style you’re after, from classic penny loafers to dressy tassel loafers, we’ve tracked down the 27 absolute best loafers for men—all exhaustively researched, thoroughly vetted, and ready to roll.
The Best Bang For Your Buck Loafer
Bass Weejuns have been an icon since the ’30s, and when it comes to loafers—or any shoe really—you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value. The brand’s casual-leaning style is a GQ fan-favorite beloved by old-school preppy legends like J.F.K. and modern-day loafer aficionados alike. The best way to wear them? Play down their clean-cut origins by pairing them with everything from cuffed Dickies to flower-child faded jeans. For the bargain-savvy shopper, these are about as close as it gets to a near-perfect black loafer that doesn’t compromise on quality and doesn’t call for a short-term loan to afford. In other words: as long as Bass keeps making ’em, we’ll keep recommending ’em.
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The Best Grail-Worthy Loafer
The word “icon” gets tossed around real casually these days, but Gucci’s horsebit loafer is the rare piece of design actually worthy of the moniker. There’s a reason the silhouette’s barely changed since it was first introduced in the early ’50s. Gucci loafers are still crafted in Italy, still embellished with the brand’s signature horsebit detail hearkening back to its legacy as a small-time Florentine leather goods operation. Explaining their appeal is easy: not only do they go with everything you already own, they’ll swank up every outfit your pair them with—from the casual-everydays vibe you’ll be bringing back to your re-opened office, to the suit you’ve been jonesing to bust out once the summer wedding circuit picks up in earnest.
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The Best Titan of Industry Loafer
If you’re looking for slip-on shoes that’ll make you feel like you’re on top of the world every time you wear ‘em these are the loafers for you. That’s because J.M.Weston’s most popular shoe is a tour de force of footwear design. Insisting on the 180 manual operations necessary to assemble each pair might sound a tad excessive, but if you’re dropping a rack on a pair of shoes, you expect that level of craftsmanship. Goodyear-welted for easy resoling and done up in a rich shade of dark brown, these are loafers that’ll sync up just as well with your most formal outfits as they will your most casual, from your finest “hostile corporate takeover” power suit to a pair of frayed 501s and your “weekend beater” Rolex.
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The Best Tassel Loafer
Tassel loafers are here, waiting, if you want something outside of a penny loafer that’s still got some showmanship. Alden’s signature version is absolute aces: handmade in Massachusetts from handsome snuff suede on a deceptively comfortable leather outsole. You’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of shoes that’ll complement a pair of dark indigo jeans more effectively, or more instantly elevate a creamy pair of linen trousers to the realm of “gracefully aging Italian gentleman.”
Another Great Tassel Loafer Option:
The Best Venetian Loafer
Venetian loafers couldn’t be hotter right now, and you should absolutely learn what the fuss is about. Construction-wise, they’re similar to the conventional loafers you’re familiar with, absent a few crucial stylistic flourishes—namely, the straps, tassels, and kilties that typically lend the uppermost part of the loafer some flair. The style has exploded in popularity over the last year, which means it’s high time you discovered for yourself what the fuss is about. Viberg’s durable, Goodyear-welted option is one of the best of the bunch. The brand’s eco veg slippers merge the ease of the house shoes you’ve been wearing for the last year with the timeless style of the dress shoes you’ve been eyeing forever. Strip away all those excess details and you’re left with a loafer that feels—almost paradoxically—even more elegant than its elaborately-adorned counterparts.
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The Best Mood Board Loafers
For decades, loafers remained an unbeatable footwear option for every type of sophisticated gent, but it’s only recently that brands cottoned on to their appeal as canvas for their wildest designs. Case in point: Blackstock & Weber’s Safari loafers, a veritable Animal Kingdom in shoe form. (Tiger, and zebra, and leopard prints, oh my!) These loafers are sure to do two things: 1) Make you the most confident dude at any function you attend, and 2) Do massive numbers on the ‘gram. We’re not in the business of making triple-digit guarantees, but if there were ever shoes that promised some well-warranted timeline love, it’s these. Keep the rest of your outfit classic (think a tan suit, solid knit polo, and a sleek pair of aviators) to really let ’em roar.
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