Well, this article is a dead giveaway, isn't it?
No need for an intro. I'm here to explain why I love the loafer and why you should too. Hopefully, with a bit of persuasive writing, you’ll add another (or your first) pair of loafers to the stable.
Let’s start with the basics. I’ve said it several times here, but the majority of men’s style issues would be solved with simplification.
Too many men have too much clothing in too many colors in too many patterns in too big of a size. Subtract things (articles of clothing) from the equation (your outfit) and you’ll have an easier time solving it (getting dressed).
Loafers help to simplify things and give you a style boost to boot. Here's why...
They have no laces.
I don’t have to worry about my shoes becoming untied, what color laces I should be wearing, or how I should be tying the knot. With a pair of loafers, you slip them on and go.
They can be dressed up or down.
The penny loafer can play many different roles. It was originally designed as a more casual shoe. Because of it’s lower profile, and it’s ability to look good sans socks, it pairs well with chinos (and even shorts). However, Its formality extends all the way up to being acceptably paired with most suits. This makes the loafer a key item in a versatile wardrobe. You can wear them with damn near anything.
They look great without socks.
The trend of showing some ankle has become more mainstream lately, but many do it incorrectly. I see many guys go sock-less with something like a pair of oxfords and head into work. This looks goofy - like you’re missing something. Loafers look fantastic without socks. And guess what? They look great with them too.
They work year round.
Yes, they tend to be associated with summer looks, but the loafer needs no hibernation. A sock-less ankle in cold weather might get you a few strange looks, but that’s not the shoe’s fault. Grab a pair of brown suede loafers and watch how well they work into your autumn outfits. Be sure to wear a pair of socks (or don’t).
They have style baked into them.
Loafers are a very classic form of footwear and have been around for quite some time. Despite this, few many men are willing to venture into loafer land. I’ve been shopping with guys who are averse to any sort of slip-on footwear. To each their own. But this gives you an opportunity to shine. Wearing loafers is a subtle style bump up to your outfit. While others are wearing humdrum footwear, you’ll look like you know what you're doing.
So where do you start?
If you’ve never purchased a pair of penny loafers before, start with a classic - The G.H. Bass Weejuns. Bass actually invented the penny loafer, so you're in good hands. The name Weejun is a nod to the Norwegian heritage of the original loafer. If you have a moment, you should check out the recent piece GQ ran on the Bass Weejuns. Nearly all of your favorite shoemakers will have some sort of penny loafer in stock, but I find it fun to stick with heritage brands when possible. And the best part? They’re only around a hundred bucks.
As a side note, when you buy loafers, they shouldn’t be overly comfortable right away. You’re foot probably isn’t going to slip right in. This is good.
Since the loafer has no laces, you can’t tighten it once it's been broken in. If your loafers are looser right away, they’ll get even larger as they break in and fall off your foot. It’s better to deal with the discomfort for a few days, producing a great fitting shoe once the dust settles.
If it’s a bit tight in the toe box and you’d like to speed up the process, take a thick sock and wet it until it’s slightly damp. Put the sock in your shoe and push it towards to toe box. Let it sit overnight. The dampness will make the leather more malleable and the sock pressing against the inside should help expand the shoe.
Penny loafers are a fantastic lesson in style simplicity. Relaxed but sleek. Simple but effective. They communicate that you know what you’re doing, but with no fuss.
Long live the loafer.