To avoid unnecessary repetition I shall skip over the bit where I tell you just how important your shoes are and that you should be caring for them with as much devotion as you would any of your most prized possessions, and get straight to the point. Those of you whom are regular readers will already know this by now.
It would be fair to say that boat shoes and espadrilles are fairly standard attire nowadays and quite rightly to; a boat shoes offer a great deal of versatility and you can mix espadrilles with tailored pieces to create a great smart/casual look. But without wishing to ruffle any feathers, they are becoming a little common. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, it is more a representation of how the current trends are progressing and have been progressing.
So without returning to the rather restrictive flip flop (join the debate in Alex Woodhall’s Summer Fashion Mistakes – Part 2) or going all out with a Brogue or Derby, we can really only be left with one option, the loafer, but in my opinion that isn’t exactly much of a hardship.
How to Wear
As we can see from the above look book, loafers are undeniably preppy (investigate Paul Mcgregor’s Timeless Style Icon – JFK), with just a little Italian flair and as such they suit a much more structured and formal style than perhaps other forms of summer footwear might. This shouldn’t put you off; creating a smarter outfit can be as simple as putting on a shirt in stead of a tee, or switching your jeans for chinos – and it is just as easy the other way around when you want to relax a formal look.
But aside from the immediate benefit of individuality (you don’t see many men sporting loafers), what are the perks? From a practical point of view they are obviously more suitable all year round; in fact they provide a nice alternative to the standard formal shoes we associate with the colder weather – provided you stick to leather and leave suede for the summer – so they are really a very transitional item. Perfect when you are trying to build a timeless and versatile collection of footwear for any occasion.
There is also just as much variation in shape, style, colour and form as any other type of shoe, so you are bound to find a pair that works for both you AND your personal style. It is also worth remembering that because you have invested in a decent pair (which you should have), they will last a lot longer than espadrilles or boat shoes. Lived in shoes can look just as good as new ones, but no one likes the chap whose sole is flapping about independently from his upper, very bad form.
However, there are still different aspects to consider that will affect how you wear your loafers. Firstly the choice between suede or leather will determine what kinds of outfit are most suitable. Suede lends itself to a much more casual outfit, particularly during the summer as this is where the lighter material will pay dividends. Leather will suit a more structured and formal look, so standard colour rules apply; brown or tan for versatility, black for the most formal image. In terms of shape and form, again it impacts suitability; a flat soled and unstructured loafer or driving shoe is clearly more informal, while the rigid, heeled structured of a penny or Italian influenced loafer will compliment a formal outfit much better. Ultimately your choice should be based on what you will use your loafers for most.
Loafers Look Book
Look 1 – Everyday Casual
Now, despite all I’ve said about loafers suiting a much more structured and formal outfit, they can be used in casual looks. Ed Westwick is a big fan of using a loafer to smarten up a jeans and t-shirt combination (click here to see examples), in fact Master Westwick seems to enjoy wearing loafers with both his casual and formal looks. The key thing to remember though is simplicity. Clean and classic is the name of the game; basic tees, fine knitwear and slim jeans or chinos, rolled up or rolled down and, at this time of the year, forgo the socks. Should you favour shorts, keep them tailored.
The emphasis here is on basic items with very simple, clean lines. The loafers are a little bit more formal than boat shoes and immediately mark you out from the crowd. The muted colours – navy, white and grey – keep it tidy and not too in your face, but you could easily sub in colourful chinos if you want to make a statement. A woven belt and forever timeless aviators finish this look off.
What the loafers are able to do in this outfit is smarten up (in a very subtle way) what is essentially a suitably casual and comfortable outfit.
Look 2 – Smart & Sophisticated
As I mentioned earlier, smartening up your look can be as simple as wearing a shirt instead of a tee, or wearing a blazer instead of a jumper. The core of this look a clean, crisp shirt and good quality straight, slim or skinny jeans; keep the washes darker to avoid channelling any Richard Hammond (is it me or does his name crop up quite a lot?) and ensure you shirt styles are nice and simple – although gingham would just as well in this situation.
Topped off with a good jacket this look is definitely one that will push your style up a sartorial notch.
Look 3 – Preppy Perfection
Going for the full on preppy look this summer means you will definitely be on trend. Keep the majority of the colours muted and simple but suggest your fashion daring with some colourful socks and bright non standard chinos or trousers. A more rigid structured, heeled loafer works best here (the offerings from Grenson are perfect in both suede or leather).
Keep your accessories classic but should the fancy take you, feel free to mix in a collegiate inspired tie.
Current Season Loafers
Loafers are a great footwear alternative regardless of season. They are perfect for the summer months, tap into many of the current big trends and are versatile enough to adapt to any future trends as well. Plus you can easily incorporate a air into any of your timeless and classic looks; definitely worth the investment.
The question is: will you be partaking?
Let me know in the comments below.