The best men’s loafers to smarten up your footwear (2024)

A slip-on shoe with a low heel and no laces, on paper, doesn’t sound like the smartest of shoes. Quite the opposite: it sounds like a slipper. But the loafer is anything but shabby. Along with brogues, Derbies, and Oxfords, a quality loafer is an essential addition to any comprehensive formal shoe collection and, thanks to equal measures of comfort and flair, it’s particularly well-suited to tailoring, as well.

Men’s loafers are often fronted with features depending on their continent of origin. And unlike an Oxford or Derby, loafers are a versatile and much customised formal design, ranging from the classic penny loafer to those embellished with tassels and horse-bits. They’re also generally made using one of two fabrics: traditional leather or suede. The former is sturdier and smarter, while the latter is decidedly more casual, and best reserved for dry autumn days.

So if you’re looking to step into something a little suaver than a sandal in the next few months, you’ve come to the right place. From Grenson to Burberry, shop GQ’s edit of the best men’s loafers below.

Which brands are best for loafers?

Luckily for us, formalwear options have been booming amid the chaos of rescheduled weddings and a return to office work. Thusly, we have never had more loafer options. With your choice of heritage Saville Row brands, big-name designers, and high-street picks, the menswear world is your oyster.

For those looking to invest in a quality loafer with the promise of longevity, your first port of call ought to be an expert formal cordwainer with years of experience, like Grenson, Church's, George Cleverley or Malone Souliers. Alternatively, if you have a more designer-led focus with your personal style, you can't go wrong with the big names of Burberry, Prada and Gucci – labels who have long been making waves in the loafer world.

What's the best way to style loafers?

Batter down the hatches, this may come as a shock: there's not a single piece in your wardrobe that won't be enhanced by the addition of a loafer. Cropped jeans, wide-leg cuts, pleated trousers, knee-length shorts —you name it. No outfit is immune to the charm of the humble loafer, all you need is an appropriate pair of socks… and perhaps some blister plasters.

But where the loafer truly shines is as a base to tailoring. The loafer comes into its own when paired with a lounge suit in particular, where formality and loucheness combine, not unlike the sleek, slip-on loafer itself.

How do I choose a pair of loafers?

Simple: you choose the pair that speaks to you the most. Whilst this may sound like the obvious answer, by opting for a pair of loafers that you naturally gravitate towards (as opposed to going for something that feels more “sensible” or typically wearable), you'll avoid feeling any pesky, niggling post-purchase regrets, or dreamy imaginings of the pair you really wanted. In fact, you might say that the real question is, how do you choose just one pair of loafers?

What are the best loafers to buy in 2024?

Best classic loafer

The best men’s loafers to smarten up your footwear (1)

Church's Tunbridge loafers

Whilst these rich navy loafers may not initially read as “classic” due to their less conventional colourway, just about every Church's shoe comes steeped in tradition, with the brand's legacy dating back as far as 1870. Cut from high-quality leather, these penny loafers have been treated for a high-shine bookbinder fumè finish, elevating their simple silhouette to new heights of sophistication.

Best ‘bang for your buck’ loafer

The best men’s loafers to smarten up your footwear (2)

G.H Bass & Co loafers

Experts in the creation of casual-leaning formal shoes, G.H Bass & Co is a fan-favourite among GQ editors and is the ideal choice for loafers that can be dressed up or down. The label's Easy Weejuns loafers have been a menswear icon since the 1930s, and you'd be hard-pressed to find better value for money.

Best designer loafer

One of the biggest names in Italian luxury (if not, the name), it's entirely likely that Gucci is the first designer label that comes to mind when thinking of the loafer. Having trotted out more than a few hugely-popular variations on the silhouette over its 100-year history, the staple offering in Gucci's illustrious loafer selection is this black leather design, characterised by their signature antiqued Horsebit hardware across the front of the body. With a classic stacked heel, this pair is sure to provide comfort upon wear – and garner more than a few compliments along the way.

Shop GQ's edit of the best loafers that we love…

The best men’s loafers to smarten up your footwear (2024)

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