Q And Answer: Can I Wear Loafers With A Suit?

June 9, 2014

Q and Answer: Can I Wear Loafers With A Suit?

A loyal reader asks: Can I wear loafers with a suit? I rarely see it done on blogs.

Yes you can. But should you? That’s more complicated.

The loafer, especially the American penny loafer, was created to be a casual shoe. The simple fact that it slipped on and off made it the 1935 equivalent of those socks with treads printed onto them. Over the years, though, that’s softened, at least here in the States.

Today, there are a few kinds of men wearing loafers with suits.

  • Men in hip, casual suits. Search loafers and suit on the web and you’ll find plenty of young men in cotton suits, fashion-y suits and the like who look fine with loafers. Not necessarily great, there’s still something a bit dissonant about it, but fine. Going out at night in a dark suit, no tie and loafers is perfectly OK with me, if it’s your preference.
  • All-American Businessman types, who wear penny loafers with business suits because… well… they don’t want to lace up their shoes? Or something? This has become traditional for Americans, but it isn’t very good looking, is borderline shocking to some non-Americans, and just generally makes you look like a yokel. Don’t do this.
  • Wall Street types. Not just folks who work on Wall Street, but folks who aspire to be the star of the movie “Wall Street.” Or perhaps “The Wolf of Wall Street.” These people are awful. Don’t be one of them.

The upshot? Most of the time, you should avoid wearing loafers with suits. Your Weejuns are much more at home with flannel trousers or corduroys anyway. If you’re headed to a Suit Occasion, wear a pair of shoes you have to lace. It’s the least you can do.

(And that goes for you too, Dave.)

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