What are Loafers

A Loafer is a slip-on shoe that most commonly has either no heel or a low heel, their sole is instead chunky from tip to heel. They are worn both as a dress shoe, a work shoe and as a casual shoe. The Loafer is often made in leather and is predominantly seen in a brown loafer or a black loafer. However, Fashion Loafers in recent years are increasingly popular and therefore patterned loafers, or loafers with fur have been introduced.

Different Types of Loafers

The Penny Loafer

The Penny Loafer is one of the first Loafer styles invented, it features a distinct strip of leather on the top of the Loafer with a extended diamond cut out. It was said that the term Penny Loafer was coined in the 1960s by school children who found that they could fit a couple pennies in the diamond strip. These coins were seen as either a fashion statement or some believed that they were there in case the children needed to make a phone call.

The Tassel Loafer

It is said that the tassel loafer was created after the classic Oxfords with the tassels on the laces became popular. Some designers saw the vision and combined the two styles adding the decorative tassel to the loafer.

The Snaffle Loafer or The Gucci Loafer

The Snaffle Loafer was designed by Gucci in 1968 and quickly became a hit amongst consumers. The leather loafer was classic in its style except for the addition of a golden brass strap which resembled a horses snaffle, the snaffle was place across the front similar to the diamond cut out on the leather penny loafer. The snaffle loafer really put the entire loafer style to the forefront in shoe fashion and quickly the shoe was popular with celebrities and consumers alike.

The Apron Loafer

The Apron Loafer commonly comes as a suede loafer and a leather loafer. The way you identify a loafer as an Apron Loafer is by the visible stitches that finish around the toe.

The History of Loafers

It is hard to know exactly how and where the first loafers were created because there were many influences and many different stories. There are however, two main stories one that states the loafer was created in Britain and one that says the loafer was in fact created in Norway.

In Britain in 1926, it was said that King George IV commissioned an indoor shoe which was comfortable and easy to wear. The shoemakers who were commissioned designed a less structured Loafer, the design was built on and later was created as an outdoor shoe and soon after businessmen adopted it as part of their work uniform.

The alternate story says that in Aurland, Norway iconic shoemaker Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger lived. When Tveranger visited America in the 19th century he saw how popular the moccasin was and decided to create a take on the moccasin that would stand up to Norways comparatively colder and unforgiving climate. When Tveranger exported his design to America in the 1930s it was here that many different designs were created such as the Snaffle Loafer and then suede Loafers were invented.

Womens Loafers

Whilst Loafers are intrinsically linked to an androgynous style meaning there is a large overlap between traditional men loafer styles and traditional women loafer styles.

However, loafers for women will often be narrower than men’s. They will also occasionally come with more of heel. Amongst women crocodile print loafers or any animal print loafers are very popular, much more so than with men. Amongst women, loafers are seen as a fashion shoe as much as a work shoe and are a critical styling option available to women.

Loafers for Men

The loafer was first created with the workman in mind and is still a favourite amongst the professionals. The brown leather loafers and the black leather loafers for men are amongst the most popular styles. However, just like women men wear loafers outside of the office, as more materials have been introduced, the suede loafer has become a go to dress shoe for men and some loafers feature decorative central elements similar to the snaffle Loafer style.

Different Loafer Style Options

Formal Loafers

There are many different styles of loafers but if you are wanting to portray more of a formal vibe then a leather loafer might be preferable. A classic black leather loafer and the dark brown leather loafer have long been a favourite amongst businessmen. In more recent years as designs and consumer tastes have changed you can know see many people opting for bright coloured loafers such as bright pink suede loafers or deep blue loafers. These are popular for those that want to add a fun, different edge to their formal outfit.

Casual Loafers

If you are wanted to wear a more casual loafer outfit, opt for a coloured loafer such as a pale blue loafer. Also, loafers come in many different fabrics and patterned so there will be plenty of options to make sure your casual loafer doesn’t become a dress loafer. There are also loafer styles which have a bright sole making them more playful and less like a formal loafer. However, the loafer is notoriously a formal shoe in general so the real way to portray a casual outfit is in the outfit styling not the shoe choice.

How to Style your Loafers for Women

There are so many different Loafers Styles, Loafer Colours and Loafer Materials that there will be a pair for every outfit you desire. Some key Loafer styling options for women are:

  • Pair your loafer with a simple mini shirt and shirt, this portrays a very classic and timeless look.

  • Otherwise go for an off-duty model look by wearing your loafers with a simple top and a classic pair of denim jeans.

  • The loafer notoriously goes incredibly well with tailoring, tailored suits and loafers for both men and women have been a stable look. Update the classic loafer with suit look by adding your loafers to a tailored short and shirt look. It’s the epitome of androgynous chic.

  • If you want to add an extra stylish element to your look, pair a classic pair of loafers with a fun pair of socks to give that extra element.

  • In summer it has been increasingly common to see summer dresses or summer skirts paired with backless loafers.

How to Style your Loafers for Men

The Loafer was traditionally made for businessmen and since then many different styles have been created, suede loafers for men and leather loafers for men have remained at the forefront of style.

  • A popular way to wear your loafers is without socks and pairing it with either a pair of jeans or casual trousers and then adding a blazer to give an overall more formal look.

  • Apart from the suit and leather loafer combination the loafer chino look is another classic. During colder months try a harder looking leather loafer and during summer pair a suede loafer with the look.

  • Another classic loafer look during the warmer months is wearing a shirt with tailored shorts and then adding a pair of loafers, particularly popular in summer is the blue suede loafer.

How to Clean Your Loafers

Cleaning your Leather Loafers

It is advised to protect your leather loafers before use to enjoy they last as long as possible.

Radley Leather Care Foam
The Radley leather cleaner has been specially formulated for use on Radley leathers. It will assist in the removal of general soiling and water-based stains. Only use on Radley leather products. We recommend applying the Radley Leather Foam and Protect Cloth before using your product.

Should they get dirty the best way to care for your leather loafers by regularly polishing them and carefully washing with hot soppy water any specific dirty areas.

Cleaning your Suede Loafers

Protect your suede loafers before your first wear to ensure they look their best for as long as possible.

Should they get dirty, it is advised that your purchase a suede specific brush and gentle brush the dirty areas to remove any stains.

How to break in your Leather Loafers

The most important thing to remember is like all shoes, wear them in intervals. Don’t go straight into wearing your leather loafers for a full day. Start our weather your leather loafers in the house for short periods and then outside for slightly longer stints, this will both soften the leather and mould your loafers more to your foot ensuring you won’t get blisters.

Also, if you do feel that a certain part of your loafer is rubbing, protect it. Wear a protective blister plaster just to minimise rubbing.

When you first wear your loafers, try choosing outfits that allow you to wear socks with them too. Of course, loafers can be worn without socks or with invisible socks but it is advised that when you start wearing them you opt for chunkier socks as this will help protect your feet whilst you wear them in.

If it is taking some time to wear your leather Loafers in, try blow drying them. Hold a hairdryer on a warm setting over the heel for just a few seconds, make sure that you are wearing your shoes whilst you do this as the light heat will help to mould the leather around your feet.

The most popular Loafer colours

  • Womens loafers black and black loafers for men are amongst the most classic styles and also the most common.

  • Brown loafers and Mens Suede Loafers are also a classic style.

  • Backless loafers have recently really become popular, especially in summer you will see many backless loafer outfits.

  • Womens Loafers tan and Mens tan loafers are a more summer focused style to the brown loafers.

  • It is common to see navy loafers too, navy loafers womens are a popular choice.

  • Whilst loafers commonly have a low heel, as styles have changed, we see chunky loafers more and more. Chunky loafers offer a flatform element to the simple loafer style, the chunky loafer is a more stylish version that helps to elongate the users legs making the chunky loafer a flattering choice.

  • As loafers have got more popular brands have become more adventurous with prints and patterns. Now there are fur lined loafers, branded loafers and bright and bold loafers.

Radley Loafers we Love

Radley Sadler Brogue Loafer

A pair of women’s loafers crafted with the luxurious quality of our Radley leathers, there is a black loafer for women and a brown loafer for women. We’ve designed our slender slip-on styles using only the finest leather and fabrics. Adorned with a traditional tassel and a Scottie dog charm at the heel, they also boast signature brogue details: perforated patterns and wingtip toe details to emphasise our artisanal approach to detail.

Slip into something with this level of polish and practicality, whether in the office or on a weekend away to elevate your outfit, while experiencing comfort every step of the way.