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Loafers – The Ultimate Summer Shoe For Men

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“Wanna know if a guy is well dressed? Look down.” – George Frazier

While footwear is arguably less important in the age of COVID-19 than it was previously, Mr. Frazier’s quip about the importance of shoes in an outfit holds true. As image consultants, we always tell our clients that their shoe choice affects their image. Shined shoes in good repair shows your attention to detail and understanding of the importance of a solid foundation, even in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Dull, lifeless shoes, on the other hand, will ruin the otherwise pristine image a $5,000 suit imparts.

We all dress more casually in the summertime, and there are lots of summer-specific styles to choose from. The loafer isn’t the only one – in fact, a loafer is not, by definition, a summer shoe. Still, they’re extremely versatile, making them the ultimate summer shoes for men.

What is a Loafer?

light brown loafer with leather bit
A variation of a bit loafer, originally popularized by Gucci.

In the interest of going a foot long and a mile deep, let’s answer this most basic question. The term “loafer” refers to any slip-on shoe – that is, a shoe without laces that you slip onto your foot.

There are plenty of different loafer styles, some of which you may already be familiar with. We’ve listed a few below.

Penny Loafers

man posing in two tone penny loafers


broan leather driving shoe camp moccasinMoccasins are unstructured loafers that are, pardon the pun, a step or two away from a slipper. They consist only of an upper – there’s no separate sole and heel like you see on dress shoes. Extremely casual, moccasins (also known as “mocs”) work wonderfully with jeans, shorts, and chinos.

Driving Shoes

Ever see shoes that have little rubber nubs on the bottoms instead of a sole? That’s a driving shoe – the nubs are supposed to help you grip the pedals of a car more effectively. A style of moccasin made very popular by Tod’s, you’d probably recognize them even if you didn’t know their name.

Tassel Loafers

blue tassel loafers with light pantsTassel loafers are self-explanatory – they’re slip-on shoes that have little decorative tassels on the instep. They once had a reputation as a style for older men, but younger guys have worn them to great effect in the past decade or so.

Venetian Loafers

brown leather venetian slipon shoeA Venetian is any unadorned loafer. No penny keeper, no pinking or perforations, no tassels, nothing. This simple, understated style works exceptionally well as a dress shoe.

How To Wear Slip-on Loafers

man wearing light pants and penny loafersFirst and foremost – unless you need to wear them, go sockless in loafers in the summertime. No-show socks are great for achieving this look with added comfort. Not only does this allow your ankles to breathe (every little bit helps), it’s a sharp look that works with anything from a tuxedo for a summer wedding to a pair of shorts and a tank top at an oceanside lunch spot.

man in penny loafers and blue pantsLet’s divide them into two buckets – casual and dressy.

Casual loafers tend to be driving shoes or moccasins – anything without a dressy sole. Wear these sockless with shorts, custom jeans, or casual trousers made of cotton or linen. If you forgo a tie, casual loafers can add a fun casual element to a cotton or linen suit. Do not wear socks with these loafers.

Dressy loafers are loafers that have a leather sole and heel. It’s best to dress these up with tuxedos, suits, and sport coat/odd trouser combinations. These will look best in the summertime without socks, but if you want or need to wear socks with them, you can.

Further Reading

Curious about optimizing your wardrobe no matter the season? We’re here to help. Give us a call at 215-310-0219 or email us at info@henrydavidsen.com to start a conversation. In the meantime, enjoy some other image and style articles:

Please consider supporting those that have been displaced due to COVID-19 to get back on their feet with a donation to Career Wardrobe’s OutFIT for Work campaign.  $50 provides a full interview outfit for an individual seeking employment.

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