What you need to know About Loafers: Are Loafers Casual or Formal?

They’re comfortable, convenient, stylish, and versatile. Loafers are a classic men’s staple and they can take you from a lunch date on a yacht to a business meeting in a snap.

But the ultimate question with loafers is, are they casual or formal?

Can you wear them with a tailored suit or only with a pair of shorts or chinos? Well, there is no right and wrong answer. Loafers can be mixed and matched with any type of look. However, to keep your outfit looking well-put-together, there are a few simple cues to making them work both for a casual and a formal look.

The Origins of Loafers

Loafers were made to be casual shoes but over time, variations and design details have evolved these men’s shoes into more classic formal wear. However, loafers have always had a casual origin.

There are many stories to where loafers originated, from stories of European fishermen wearing the original style to European royalties commissioning shoemakers to create an indoor shoe to “loaf” around in, to Norwegian shoemakers crafting the very first loafers we know today.

One of these Norwegian shoemakers was Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger, who was based in Aurland, Norway, and traveled to America in the late 19th century. While in America, Tveranger saw the design of the Iroquois tribe moccasins. When he went back to Norway, he designed a shoe inspired by the moccasins, and incorporated other shoe details made in Norway at the time, and voila, the first-ever pair of loafers were made.

Once it made its way into America, different designs and variations were made, evolving the loafer into a versatile shoe that bridges the gap between casual and formal wear.

Are Loafers Casual or Formal?

Though loafers are considered to be causal shoes, they have become more and more acceptable when paired with more formal wear. They work best with business causal looks, but depending on the design and material, they can be paired with tailored suits and tuxedos.

To help you narrow down your loafer choices with your outfits, let’s take a look at the different types of loafers and how to best wear them for both casual and formal looks:

• The Tassel Loafer

These are the most casual of all loafer styles. They feature a tassel or two on the vamp of the shoe, which is an ode to dressy Italian shoes. They’re playful and more on the stylish side, so they’re best worn with a business or smart causal look such as with chinos and a linen blazer.

There are, however, classier Tassel Loafers such as the Belgian loafer, that come in leather tassels. These are more on the formal style and can be worked with a business suit, as long as you keep them in classic colors such as black or dark brown.

• The Penny Loafer

The Penny loafer is the most versatile type of loafer. They’re simple, with no frills, and come in a variety of colors and materials. Suede is more on the causal side and works best with jeans, chinos, and even shorts for the summer. Penny loafers were popular in the ’50s with Ivy League students who were famous for their preppy styles.

You can wear penny loafers with chinos and a knit sweater for a summer dapper look, or if you have patent leather loafers, they also work well with a business casual look.

• The Horsebit Loafer

These loafers feature a metal bar on the vamp of the shoe and are considered to be the most formal of all types of loafers. They work best with a business suit, and if they come in a sleek, polished, and classic style, they can also be worn with a tuxedo.

Loafers are originally casual shoes but over time, more and more variations and designs, as well as the use of patent leather have made them a more formal style that can be worn with tailored suits and tuxedos.

The key to making sure they match with your casual or formal look is to choose the right kind of material, the design detail, and the color of your loafers.

For loafers in Dubai, we feature a wide range of loafer styles in many different colors, materials, and variations that work well with shorts in the scorching Dubai summers as well as with your business casual looks for that all-important business meeting.