While many stick to classic sartorial grounds of lace-ups, modern gents love to wear loafers with suits.
But pairing these together, you either feel like you are Fred Astaire or “this doesn’t look right.” There is no middle ground.
Through this guide, I’ll save you from feeling underdressed wearing suits and loafers. That way, you’ll look stylish and structured.
Types of Dress Loafers to Wear with a Suit
Loafers are laceless slip-on shoes that often feature a seam on the vamp and have a separate sole and heel.
It’s what differentiates loafers from slippers and moccasins.
Although it’s a relatively casual shoe, loafers come in various types.
So just like other dress shoe types, different styles portray different formality levels.
Tassel loafers are often the least-formal option to pair with a suit.
The tassels on the vamp define this loafer type. They are not only decorative but also quite playful.
Hence, they radiate a casual shoe vibe.
Many young gents have a style preference for tassel loafers. And these are trendy too.
It’s best to wear them with a smart-casual outfit like chinos and a blazer.
On the other hand, you can also wear these with a suit to summer weddings or going on a date.
For example, if the suit color is rather loud, like maroon or burgundy, you can complement it with dark brown tassel loafers.
So if the occasion merely demands to look “effortlessly put-together,” tassel loafers with a suit is probably the best combo.
The Penny loafers came into being after the Norwegian modification of the American Moccasin.
Gentlemen in the 1930s used to put pennies in their shoes for emergencies.
After some time, this “penny holder” leather strap over the vamp lost its functionality.
But it still is an aesthetically cool concept that is appropriate enough to wear with a suit.
The best formal suits to wear penny loafers with are dark ones. One instance is wearing a charcoal suit with black loafers.
Another way is to wear brown penny loafers and match them with a more casual suit color.
For example, tones of brown, light grey, and royal blue are all appropriate suit shades.
Penny loafers are the shoe of choice for a business-casual outfit.
But you can also wear them as a part of cocktail attire or any other semi-formal event.
A small but distinctive bow on the front defines Belgian loafers.
Unfortunately, these are a less popular shoe of the loafers clan.
But some men, especially classic menswear fans, love to wear these, even with suits.
In formality, Belgian loafers are the same as tassel loafers.
But their sewn inside-out design and rich history make this a special shoe.
Ideally, a blazer and chinos are a good fit for these shoes.
When wearing a suit, I suggest going with a less-formal ensemble – for example, a brown linen suit.
Keep in mind that you’ll have more ankle exposure when wearing Belgian loafers.
With the metal buckle on the vamp, Horsebit, a.k.a Gucci loafers, have the flair its counterpart lacks.
And it’s the reason this Gucci loafer came into existence. Italian gents call it gusto – the one with personality.
The Horsebit loafer also has a history of introducing the trend of wearing dress loafers with suits.
Aldo Gucci was a big part of it. That’s why these are called Gucci loafers.
At one time, these were the mainstay among every American suit wearer.
Nowadays, some will call this retro; however, Horsebit is still the most formal loafer to pair with suits.
Whether you wear a suit to work, a wedding, or a nice restaurant, Gucci loafers will be appropriate for most occasions.
For example, black Gucci loafers would be a great match with a navy suit.
The only place you should avoid these is the black or white-tie dress code.
Leather vs. Suede Loafers with Suits
The leather and suede loafer differ in their construction. But more important is how these look and feel.
Leather loafers, for example, have a sheen to them. This often complements the sheen of the suit, and hence, these go well together.
Even on their own, leather loafers look polished and dressed up. Plus, these feel durable on feet.
So, leather loafers are better suited for dressed-up themes like business or semi-formal. You can even wear these with your staple suits.
Suede loafers, in comparison, have an innate softness. Plus, the ruggedness of the shoe dresses the formality down.
On the other hand, suede leather is a great choice for smart-to-business outfits.
I suggest wearing suede when you style the suit more casually or at least want to go simple.
Choosing the Appropriate Suit with Loafers
When wearing loafers with a suit, you have to put thought and effort into looking good.
Therefore, pay attention to the suit you wear, the dress code and occasion, and things you’ll eventually have to avoid.
I’ll address these in the next section. In such a manner, you’ll be on top of your game when you wear loafers with a suit.
Lean Towards Casual Suits
Casual suits hone the innate playfulness of the loafers.
Here, I suggest combining the fundamentals of dressing up with a flair of effortless styling.
Opt for soft shoulders, unlike the padded ones on business and formal suits. Wear fabrics like linen, cotton, and wool in some weave for a better structure.
Replace the usual dress shirt with something rakish like a button-down, denim, or even a polo.
You can even choose slightly more fashion-forward pants with no pleats, no or slight pants break, and a slim fit.
You can then rock in loafers without fearing looking out of place.
Matching the Suit Color for the Occasion
Suit color is impactful, as it’s the first thing noticed even before the fit.
The right suit and shirt color combination are necessary to add flamboyance to your look. Adding some popping shades is also encouraged.
With loafers, the suit colors complement the overall vibe of your attire and make you look appropriate for the occasion.
For example, the brown suit is an excellent color for casual suits and will match most settings.
And if you signed up for festive events, you can pair your loafers with bright colors like teal, maroon, burgundy, etc.
But make sure everything should look appropriate for the occasion.
Don’t Wear Loafers with a Tuxedo
A tuxedo is a formal garment exclusive for black-tie and other formal events.
So, you can’t change how you wear a tuxedo. And wearing loafers can be a huge style mistake.
Some gents argue you might get away in black Belgian loafers with tuxedos due to a resemblance with opera pumps.
But even if patent leather loafers work, traditional dress shoe types like Oxfords will always be a better choice.
In fact, anyone who wears a tuxedo can appreciate the difference between loafers and tuxedo shoes from a mile away.
Different Settings to Wear Loafers with a Suit & Outfits
Well, now you know the ground rules on wearing suits with loafers, let’s pinpoint the details.
I am talking about different dress codes and how you can look good in these with a suit and loafers.
The key note here is that don’t try too hard. Keep things simple yet timeless, and you’ll be dressed up for any occasion.
Plus, have confidence in what you wear.
Semi-formal is often the dress code for weddings or occasions that require you to bring your A-game.
The first thing is the suit color. Navy suits make excellent semi-formal outfits, followed by blue, grey, and brown.
Depending on the occasion, you can wear a pattern but a subtle one.
Then, choose the type of cut you’re comfortable with, and never compromise on the suit fit.
Choose notch lapels, double vents, no pleats, and a slight break for styling when wearing a suit with loafers.
You can wear a tie, but correlate the color with your shirt.
Finally, penny and the Horsebit loafers are the best choices here.
If you wear a blue suit, brown Horsebit loafers will be fine.
Wear black penny loafers and a navy suit for weddings and slightly festive occasions.
Only choose dark brown or any other color if the occasion allows room for personal styling.
Business Casual Dress Code
Things are simpler here. Imagine it as a casual day in the office, or you’re going on a date after business hours.
When it comes to a business suit, earthy tones will work better than flamboyant ones.
So, the best solid colors for a suit would be navy, brown, and grey.
Styling will remain as in any timeless suit. But you can skip the tie and add something distinctive like a blue dress shirt.
I consider the penny loafer the best bet here.
Black is a good color choice, but you can also go with dark brown, especially when matching with blue suit pants.
Tassel loafers will work too, but not as good as penny loafers.
You should aim to look as dressed-up as semi-formal, but with some twist in the garment choice.
Now the outfit can go two ways. Either you choose a solid suit color, or you can choose a dazzling one.
Burgundy and maroon suits are some vivid suit colors you can wear loafers with.
I can recommend an olive green suit with loafers if the event is even a little playful. But the choice may vary with one’s personal style.
When it comes to accessories, you can incorporate a thing or two to showcase your style.
For example, you can add a pocket square in some casual fold or light-pink oxford dress shirt.
Coming to the important part, tassels, bit loafers, and penny loafers will be equally good.
If going with a solid color suit, I suggest Gucci loafers.
And if you’re wearing patterns, try tasseled loafers. However, you can interchange these based on your preference.
Smart Casual Outfits
Chinos and blazers alone are enough for the smart casual dress code.
You can incorporate both casual wear and statement-making pieces into your wardrobe.
Try a navy blazer with grey pants or add bold colors, opt for a t-shirt, or add a pocket square. All are allowed.
But don’t try everything at once; rather, do it with one outfit at a time.
Like, if you’re going with a teal blazer, try modesty in the shirt and accessories and vice versa.
And if you’re wearing a full suit, wear a casual one to not end up in an overly dressed situation.
Any loafers will work here. I suggest Belgian loafers, as these break the monotony while staying elegant.
Wearing Socks with Your Loafers and Suit
There are two concepts here. The first one is to go for a sockless look. While the second is wearing loafers with low-cut socks.
First, it’s best to wear socks when wearing loafers. This could drastically prevent damaging the shoe’s life and makes your feet feel better.
No show is acceptable if you find the right socks to pull it off.
These invisible socks work best for young men who prefer no break and aren’t afraid of being fashion-forward.
Low-cut socks are good with summer and casual suits, especially when wearing suede loafers.
On the other hand, some men enjoy the timeless feel of mid-calf socks. Thus, they wear them with loafers too.
You can go with the style that resonates with your personality. Just avoid going sockless.
How to Wear Loafers with Suits FAQs
Can you wear Venetian loafers with a suit?
Yes. A Venetian loafer is a simple yet versatile shoe you can wear with suits.
However, it’s best if the suit is more casual. So it’s better that you wear Venetian loafers with summer suits.
Is it appropriate to wear dress loafers to a wedding?
Most of the time, yes, but it depends. For relaxed summer weddings, loafers are a good shoe choice.
You can wear dress loafers to fall weddings if you abide by the dress code. But if the wedding is formal, I recommend replacing it with an oxford shoe.
Can you wear driving loafers with a suit?
Driving loafers have a casual and relaxed feel to them. Therefore, you can only wear these with a suit when dressing casually.
Again, cotton and linen summer suits could be appropriate for driving loafers. Or if you’re using them only for driving.
Can you wear loafers with a suit sockless?
Going sockless with leather loafers is not a good choice. It’s because sweat can easily damage the shoe and leave a smell.
So, what you can do is try no-show socks. This will provide the bare ankle look without harming the loafers.