How To Wear Loafers With A Suit: 17 Sophisticated Looks For 2023
Bring a sense of relaxed sophistication to your tailoring collection with a pair of slip ons.
The loafer’s origins stretch way back to the fjords of Norway some time in the early 1930s, when fishermen would use moccasin-style shoes with a flip-tongue that could be easily put on and taken off without having to use their hands.
That we now style out loafers with immaculate suits shows you just how far it has evolved. It was American shoemaker G.H Bass who popularised the shoe in the West, crafting it in leather and called it the ‘Weejun’. It was a hit with the preppy collegiate types in the 50s and 60s, and has since evolved to become one of the few classic shoes that can legitimately traverse smart and casual terrain.
When it comes to wearing with tailoring, the loafer possesses a unique ability to dial down the formality of the suit just a notch, especially in the summer, when it is at its very best.
Comfortable, sophisticated, inherently stylish, and now pretty diverse in silhouette, it is the ultimate modern shoe. Of course, one has to work on a marriage, and so it is with the loafer and the suit. Here’s all the counselling you’ll ever need for a match made in heaven.
When you should wear loafers with a suit
First of all, let’s be clear that loafers are a diverse category of shoes, with some incredibly smart options at one end, and some quite bohemian numbers at the other. So we can’t lump them all into one bag called ‘loafers’.
Suede and woven leather styles are naturally going to be more casual than polished leather penny loafers, and thus might be better paired with summer linen suits rather than traditional worsted wool versions. At the other end of the scale, chunky styles are going to be more suitable teamed with a fashion-forward suit – one that has a baggy silhouette, for example.
Most smart loafer styles will work in the office, but just know that they’ll never trump the Oxford for formality and professionalism so best not to turn up to any interviews in them. However, when it comes to business casual, the loafer reigns.
Similarly, tassel and horsebit styles are excellent paired with suits that you might wear to a semi-formal wedding, especially in the summer. The warm weather and laid-back sartorialism might be the perfect concoction for the loafer, but don’t think it can’t hold its own in the winter months too.
The types of suits to wear with loafers
Like we mentioned above, loafers are diverse. But so are suits, so the rule of thumb is to match the level of formality. A slick midnight blue double-breasted suit in a worsted wool is going to call for a sophisticated leather penny loafer as any embellishments (such as a tassel or bar) would detract from the smartness of your tailoring.
On the other hand, a dusty pink textural corduroy suit is begging for a suede tassel loafer to complement its relaxed nature. Keep them balanced and you can’t go far wrong.
The cut is important too. Fully canvassed suits with lots of structure are going to look very formal and so any type of loafer might jar somewhat. You would be better off opting for a slim unstructured single-breasted blazer with a tapered trouser.
Take a lesson from well-dressed Italians, who exit the womb with loafers on. A lot of modern suiting silhouettes on the runways recently are coming with wide-leg trousers, which for most traditional loafers, is a problem. The slim nature of the shoe gets drowned in the baggy fabric, so if that’s your aesthetic, you should opt for chunky loafers, of which there are many by the likes of Prada, Marni, AMI et al.
The types of loafers that work with suits
The classic, notable for the strap of leather stitched across the upper. The lack of embellishments mean they are arguably the smartest of the loafer family.
They come in many different toe styles and soles, as well as a diverse array of leather finishes.
Similar to the penny loafer above, only instead of the leather strap, there is in its place a pair of tassels or a piece of metal hardware (sometimes a ‘horsebit’ as per Gucci loafers, but it is often a chain, too).
Both leather and suede styles are equally as popular. The addition of the furniture on the upper adds a touch of individuality to the shoe, and accentuates the informality.
The most contemporary take, this loafer has risen in prominence in recent years with the popularity of an edgy tailored aesthetic from the likes of Prada, Dior, Balenciaga and the like.
With a strong structure (unlike the traditional slip-on, which can sometimes be slipper-like) and chunky lugged soles, keep these for your more adventurous modernist looks.
17 loafers with suits outfits for men
Tobacco linen suit with brown suede loafers
We’re big fans of the tobacco linen suit and would thoroughly encourage every man to own one.
For smart summer engagements they are worth their weight in gold, and can be perfectly paired with some brown suede loafers to accentuate the soft silhouette.
Grey suit with black penny loafers
A super minimalist grey tonal look courtesy of a flannel suit and cashmere polo shirt – it screams for a pair of black shiny leather loafers to introduce a strong contrast.
Chunky styles would also work here since the look is extremely modern.
Brown suit with brown suede tassel loafers
If you’re ever in doubt as to what colour of shoes to wear with a suit, opting for a muted tonal shade is foolproof.
All the colour volume is in the suit, but the dark brown suede tassel loafers complement the tailoring perfectly, combining with the dark polo with aplomb.
Green suit with brown leather penny loafers
Classic penny loafers can be a great addition to a preppy suit. This green number has been expertly styled with tan leather loafers, a pale blue striped OCBD and a repp tie.
The omission of socks ensures the look is relaxed. All very sprezzatura.
Sky blue suit with brown suede tassel loafers
As far as summer suits go, nothing beats linen. That slubby texture and lightweight handle is perfect for warm-weather tailoring.
This baby blue style is slim and modern, ripe for a suede pair of tassel loafers to add a healthy dose of texture and personality.
Black double-breasted suit with black leather penny loafers
Here’s an excellent example of how a smart loafer can really step up. A black double-breasted suit is given the modern treatment layered over a black crew-neck sweater, leading the way for the black loafers to bookend the look with casual refinement.
Sockless makes it all the more modern.
Beige worker suit with black leather penny loafers
Most of the time, you’ll find beige linen suits such as this one styled with tan loafers, either leather or suede. But opting with the stronger black loafers creates a really bold look that’s accentuated by the crop in the trousers.
The peep of the black belt is the all important detail that brings the look together.
Cream suit with brown leather penny loafers
Somewhat collegiate but undeniably professional, this outfit sees a cream cotton suit matched with a pair of brown leather penny loafers.
The crop in the trousers is a nice touch, helping to emphasise the loafers, while the brown belt balances the two halves of the look.
Navy suit with black leather penny loafers
Navy and white is a menswear colour combination that will never get old. The slim silhouette of the suit combines perfectly with the loafers, both of which are well punctuated by the layers of white shirt and tee.
What is otherwise a standard business suit becomes something altogether more sexy.
Green double-breasted suit with dark brown leather tassel loafers
This is a stonker of an olive green double-breasted suit, nicely elevated by the sliver of white shirt. The slight crop in the trouser gives the loafers prominence.
That they are dark brown is no accident – they have been carefully chosen to complement the dark brown buttons of the jacket.
Match your details and you’ll rarely go wrong.
Navy pinstripe suit with black leather tassel loafers
An elegant office look if ever there was one: a navy pinstripe suit with a sky blue shirt and navy polka-dot tie.
Ordinarily, this look would be punctuated with a black pair of Oxfords. But this gent has cleverly defied convention with a pair of smart loafers instead, adding a touch or charm and character to an otherwise old-school set-up.
Brown suit with black leather penny loafers
A cracking example of how to put together a sartorial tonal look. The different hues of brown work seamlessly together, bookended by a perfectly complementary pair of brown penny loafers.
What keeps the look interesting is the melange of different textures.
Off-white suit with brown suede penny loafers
An off-white wool/silk/linen suit and a pair of brown suede loafers are a match made in summer suiting heaven if you ask us.
The interplay of textures going on is subtle but effective. It’s a classic ensemble that is perfect to wear to summer weddings.
Black suit with black Belgian loafers
When wearing a black suit, the only real option is a pair of black shoes. Anything else just looks plain wrong.
Yet rather than defaulting to bog-standard (read: boring) black Oxfords, the sleek Belgian loafer used here gives the entire look a relaxed sophistication that doesn’t feel stuffy at all.
This is reinforced by the tonal black shirt worn sans tie, creating a slick, minimalist look that’s still smart and professional.
Cream double-breasted suit with brown suede tassel loafers
The suit, shirt and tie are doing all the heavy lifting in this look.
As summer sartorialism goes, they are combining majestically, but don’t underestimate the power of the suede loafers, which have been chosen to complement the jacket buttons, and make the whole fit feel very cohesive.
Grey corduroy suit with tan suede tassel loafers
Here’s a great example of when you can afford to be a little more adventurous with your loafer choice.
This unstructured grey suit is quite obviously relaxed in both cut and fabric, which means the tan suede slip-ons bring a nice off-duty accent to the outfit.
Navy double-breasted suit with navy tassel loafers
This navy double-breasted suit could be styled any number of ways, but the addition of the Breton tee gives it a laid-back attitude.
If anything, the tonal navy loafers actually dress up the look rather than making it appear more casual.