Loafers aren’t the easiest of items to pull off, but if you get it right they can give your outfit an instant style upgrade.

Though they’ve risen in popularity of late, they’re far from new to the fashion scene. In fact, they date back as far as the 1930s and have been seen on the feet of some of the most successful stars including Paul Newman, Michael Jackson and more recently, Tinie Tempah.

Worn by men (and women) of all ages, the loafer is one of the most timeless of footwear designs and if the last 80-odd years are anything to go by, it looks like they’re here to stay.

Classic features of a loafer are a slip on design, a low top that exposes the ankle and a small heel. They are generally crafted in suede or a soft leather for durability and comfort.

History

The traditional loafer originates from Norway and was originally designed in the 1930s to be worn by fishermen and farmers. The Norwegians  later began exporting the shoes to the rest of Europe, marketing them as ‘leisure slippers’ due to their slip-on design and it wasn’t long before Americans visiting the continent picked up on the new trend.

In 1936 the iconic ‘Penny Loafer’ was born, after the G.H. Bass shoe company introduced its very own version of the style. What set their new design apart was a distinctive strip of leather across the front of the shoe with a diamond-shaped cut-out. The name ‘Penny loafer’ was coined (excuse the pun), as it is thought that school children would store a penny in the slot, to use on the payphones to call home.

The loafer gained status among a wealthier crowd, when more decorative styles such as the tassel loafer came about; however it was when Gucci introduced a design with a golden brass horse-bit style strap across the front that popularity soared.

Loafers have come a long way since then however, and the updated designs are now popular among all walks of life, from businessmen and designers, to musicians.

How to wear

Loafers are an incredibly versatile shoe and you can find variations of the look for every occasion and time of the year.

The key to nailing your loafer look, is to find a pair that suits the rest of your outfit and to ensure that your trousers are the right length and cut for the style. A slim fit cut generally works well with loafers, such as a pair of chinos or jeans.

If you’re wearing your loafers without shoes, try to leave a slight gap between the shoes and your trousers. If they’re slightly long on you, a turned up cuff can add an edge to your look. Don’t allow your trousers to hang over your shoes, as this can look a tad on the scruffy side.

Though many may preach the “no socks with loafers” rule, it’s often more comfortable to wear them to prevent rubbing. If you do choose to wear socks, pick a pair in a block colour or a loafer sock, designed especially for discreet wear. By no means should you wear the novelty socks your nan bought you for Christmas!

If you’re looking for the perfect pair of loafers for the summer months, I recommend you opt for a paler shade, such as a tan or a light grey; whereas in the colder seasons a black, navy or dark brown works best.

Shop the look

For the weekend:

You can do no better than to get your hands on an authentic pair of loafers by G.H. Bass. This laid back suede tassel detailed pair will complete your weekend look.

SHOP: G. H. Bass & Co Navy Suede Larkin Loafer

G.H. Bass & Co. Navy Suede Larkin Loafer

For work:

These sleek black leather horsebit loafers by Hudson ooze sophistication and are perfect for the office or formal occasion.

SHOP: Hudson Black Navarre Leather Shoes

Hudson Black Navarre Leather Shoes

For dinner:

Nail your date night look in these smart tan leather tassel front loafers by Grenson. The lighter tone and decorative look creates the perfect combination of smart and stylish.

SHOP: Grenson Tan Grayson Loafer

Grenson Tan Loafer

For a holiday:

When jetting off on holiday you want a pair of shoes that can offer you comfort, as well as style. These navy lace up loafers are waterproof and are made from a breathable mesh that enables breathability.

SHOP: Vilebrequin Navy Turtle Slip-On Swim Loafers

Vilebrequin Navy Turtle Slip-On Swim Loafers