Loafers Are the Every-Season Shoe Style

The closet staple is always a classic.

Best Loafers for Women
(Image credit: Future)

Even lofty descriptors like "timeless" and "classic" feel too small of words to describe the very best loafers. More than a seasonal trend or fad, the academia-inspired shoe comes with a lifestyle attached, one you can wholly lean into or subvert on your terms (a penny loafer teamed with a punk, plaid mini skirt  reads more grungey garage band than polished prepster, for instance.) And this season, they continue to cement themselves as a foundational option in my footwear collection. 

Ahead, Jamie Lee , a shoe buyer at luxury retailer Moda Operandi, Chris Paulk, the President of iconic loafers brand G.H.BASS, and Jessica Richards, a trend forecaster and founder of JMR Trend and Creative—as well as Marie Claire editors—share the very best loafers for women on the market for 2024. Lee also offers insight on what to look for in your first pair, including which colors and styles are trending right now so you can update your collection. Fair warning: You might be taken aback at this season's cold weather-ready tweaks, from rich chocolate-brown options and denim that put loafers in the running for the best fall shoes. Boots, who? 

What to Look for in Loafers

  • Color

"I would definitely recommend black for your first pair [of loafers]," says Lee, inviting you to stick to the neutral shade if you're a loafer rookie. However, if your heart desires, certainly don't shy away from bold hues. A sure bet is to use spring 2023's color trends to guide you.

  • Silhouette

Lee notes that shoppers should also decide if they want to buy a pair of chunky—think hefty lug-soles and thick treads—or sleek loafers. “Both are equally timeless and easy to wear with just about any outfit,” she says, chalking up each silhouette to personal preference.  

  • Quality

Because loafers are such an important part of your wedding wardrobe, you want to invest in a pair you know will last. "It's important one looks out for the quality of the loafers they're purchasing for the first time, and that they're getting high value and quality at a price point they can afford," Paulk says over email. "It's also worth going to a credible brand that knows the product well and boasts a long history of developing it."  

The Loafers Trending This Season

The trending silhouettes run the gamut, explains Richards, but there are three key loafer trends you can shop right now: Chunky versions, classic penny loafers, and luxurious-feeling versions like the smoking slipper. "Certainly, we've seen quite a bit of more aggressive styling, such as lug soles, chunkier constructions, and even Mary Jane-inspired uppers are key looks, complementing everything from modern tailoring to micro mini skirts," she says. "The heeled platform loafer is most likely the strongest trend silhouette of the season, evoking nineties maximalist styling before spring's return to the decade's sleeker and chicer minimalist direction." 

If going for a loafer with a lot of chunkiness isn't your preferred look, you're in luck. "Sleeker silhouettes are also happening in a big way, and while they're a seasonless staple, they're particularly a worthwhile investment now as we prepare for a spring 2024 season fueled by feminine preppy styling," she says. Look out for classic penny loafers to achieve this look. 

G.H. BASS is a great brand to start your search with, as their iconic Weejun style was the original so-called penny loafer. "Today, G.H.BASS offers Weejuns in a rainbow of colors and various materials, from suede to tweed to velvet. These different offerings allow the wearer to mix and match to fit specific occasions and dressing needs, making loafers so versatile and a staple piece. As we've seen, this loafer trend isn't going away anytime soon," says Paulk. 

"Warm, cozy, and soft are key this winter as so many are looking for comfort; so lush materials and smoking slipper inspired design are also strong, paired back to soft dressing and wider leg pants for ease," Continues Richards. In this silhouette, key design details include velvet fabrications, crushable heel counters, and mule styling." 

Deals on Loafers

Franco Sarto Balin Lug Sole Loafers, $99 $70 at Zappo's 

Franco Sarto Balin Lug Sole Loafers, $99 $70 at Zappo's 

"If you want to try the trend for yourself without breaking the bank, definitely head to H&M for this pair," says writer Brooke Knappenberger.

Sam Edelman Laurs Platform Lug Sole Loafer, $150 $90 at Nordstrom

Sam Edelman Laurs Platform Lug Sole Loafer, $150 $90 at Nordstrom

This pair of chunky loafers is on sale for 40 percent off at Nordstrom right now in a few colors, including this burgundy brown shade.

Madewell Bradley Lugsole Loafer in Leather, $158 $111 at Madewell

Madewell Bradley Lugsole Loafer in Leather, $158 $111 at Madewell

Madewell’s accessories are second-to-none. This pair is on sale for 30 percent off with the code “GETGIFTING” for a limited time.  

J.Crew Winona Winona Lug-Sole Penny Loafers, $228 $195 at J.Crew

J.Crew Winona Winona Lug-Sole Penny Loafers, $228 $195 at J.Crew

Silver footwear continues to dominate this season, and this pair of loafers is on sale for 15 percent off right now in J.crew’s massive sale. 

Image

Aeyde Mara Leather Derby Shoes, $425 $213 at Moda Operandi

These preppy and androgynous derby-style loafers have a chunkier platform with a sleek upper silhouette and bold contrasting colony. Shop them now for half off on Moda Operandi.

The Best Loafers for Women

Affordable Loafer Brands

Spending a lot is not a prerequisite for finding a fantastic pair of loafers. "At the $300 and under price point, we offer some great options from Aeyde, Ganni, and St. Agni," says Lee. Other great options for affordable loafers include Rothy's, Sam Edelman, and Vagabond Shoemakers, which are included on this list and sell loafers priced at under $200.

How to Style Loafers

Then you need some styling inspiration, always look to the street style stars—especially when it comes to designer loafers since the shoe is an off-duty go-to amongst the fashion crowd. Actor Emma Corrin teamed velvet loafers with socks and a minidress, showing how perfectly they’ll fit in at your next holiday party. On the other side, Emma Chamberlain paired her loafers more casually, opting for light-wash jeans, a white tee, and a cropped jacket. 

Emma Corrin

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Emma Chamberlain

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Meet the Expert

Jamie Lee
Jamie Lee

Jamie Lee is a footwear buyer at Moda Operandi. Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, she spent half of her life in Korea and the other half in the United States. She began her buying career at Dover Street Market New York. She now lives and works in NYC.