The 12 Best Loafers to Round Out Your Spring Wardrobe

They're all fashion insiders want to wear—now and always.

a person in street style wears a pair of prada loafers in a guide to the best loafers for women
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lofty words like "timeless" and "classic" fall short of capturing the very best loafers’ appeal. More than a seasonal shoe trend, the academia-inspired silhouette comes with a lifestyle attached, one you can wholly lean into or subvert on your own terms. (A penny loafer teamed with a punk, plaid mini skirt reads more grungy garage band than polished prepster, for instance.) This spring, the best women's loafers are once again a foundational option in my footwear collection—I wear them even more often than my favorite pair of white sneakers.

No matter how you decide to style them, the best loafers stick with you. There’s a reason they tend to pop up in discussions around “cores” and aesthetics: While they have a distinct look, they’re a piece that knows no season or trend. Instead, they grow with you as you develop your sense of personal style.

Laurel Pantin, a longtime loafer fan, author, and writer behind the Earl Earl newsletter, knows the style’s enduring charm well. “When I was in high school, I bought a pair of gold loafers at a thrift store in my hometown. This was in 2002, and metallic shoes were not a thing,” she tells Marie Claire. "They were honestly kind of orthopedic and granny, but I loved them and wore them nonstop. I became kind of known for them at my school—so much so that my AIM screen name was GoldenLoafers."

Pantin has worn her original loafers on and off throughout her life; then a few years ago, she bought a Gravati pair at Bergdorf Goodman and fell back in love with the style. “Now I wear those, a pair of Soft Loafers from The Row, and a more casual pair by Jamie Haller, almost every day,” she says. 

The moral of this shoe story: Even if you outgrow the metallic loafers of your youth, the best loafers will always have a home in your closet. Consider this the time to find your One True Pair. Ahead, Jamie Lee, a shoe buyer at luxury retailer Moda Operandi, stylist Krista Roser, and Pantin—as well as Marie Claire editors—share the very best loafers for women on the market for 2024, as well as our thoughts on how to style them for years to come.

The Best Loafers for Women

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Key Features of the Best Loafers

  • Quality

Loafers have the potential to be the foundation of your footwear wardrobe, so invest in a pair that will truly last. Some brands have a rich history of creating high-quality loafers, like Gucci, which first released its leather horse-bit loafer in 1953. All those decades of experience—and an emphasis on handmade designs—mean the label's pairs will endure from season to season.

Capital-D Designer brands aren't the only ones who've mastered quality. G.H. Bass's loafers are often under $200—and they're credited as the first-ever penny loafer in fashion, released in 1936. More affordable brands like Sam Edelman and Vagabond Shoemakers are also careful to craft each pair with long-lasting details like padded footbeds and supportive soles.

  • Silhouette

As Pantin notes, the best loafer silhouette is the one you'll actually wear (and in more than one way). Lee recommends that shoppers decide between 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.

If you're ready to branch out from those two classic buckets, there are other styles to play with. Celebrities like Taylor Swift have endorsed heeled loafers for extra height, and designers like Tory Burch have dreamed up silhouettes that combine the ease of a ballet flat with the structure of a loafer.

  • Comfort

All and all, Pantin's number-one priority with loafers is true for every style of shoe: She's looking for comfort first. "They're everyday shoes, so they need to be able to be worn every day without killing your feet," she explains. Consider the amount of arch support, the thickness of the sole, the heel height, and the materials used to determine if a pair of loafers will deliver a wear-all-day feel for you.

Affordable Loafer Brands

Finding a fantastic pair of loafers doesn't have to break the bank. Lee notes that Moda Operandi carries several loafers at the $300 and under price point, including labels like Aeyde, Ganni, and St. Agni. Other great options for affordable loafers include Rothy's, Sam Edelman, and Vagabond Shoemakers, which are included in Marie Claire's edit and sell loafers for $200 or less.

How to Style Loafers

Krista Roser, a celebrity stylist from Nashville, loves how loafers are both gender neutral and completely timeless. "They are a great mix of dressy and casual," she says.

With that inherent balance, you don't have to overthink styling your loafers. Add a cool pair of socks underneath, and wear them both with everything from pleated mini skirts to casual jeans.

If you still need inspiration for bringing a high-low loafer into your wardrobe, street style is an endless source of outfit ideas. Guests at every international fashion week reliably attend the shows in their designer loafers—and keep them on when they're enjoying the fashion capitals on their own. Alexa Chung, a perennial personal style icon, masters the dressy-casual mix in her off-duty wardrobe by layering a trench over the top of her classic loafer-and-jeans combination.

Alexa Chung

Alexa Chung is the blueprint for styling the best loafers for women, in a slouchy camel coat and straight-leg jeans.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Taylor Swift also put her spin on the loafers trend in late 2023, wearing a heeled pair while out to dinner with Gracie Abrams (also in loafers) in New York City. Swift styled them with sheer black tights, a white skirt, and a navy blue blazer—the perfect way to transition your loafers from winter to spring.

Taylor Swift and Gracie Abrams wearing loafers

Taylor Swift and Gracie Abrams coordinated in old-fashioned loafers on a fall outing in New York City.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Meet the Style Experts

Jamie Lee
Jamie Lee

Jamie Lee is a footwear buyer at Moda Operandi. Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, she spent half 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.

Laurel Pantin
Laurel Pantin

Laurel Pantin is the Los Angeles-based author of style newsletter Earl Earl, a branding and creative consultant, and personal stylist. She is a former fashion editor who previously held roles at InStyle, CoveteurLucky, and Teen Vogue. 

Krista Roser
Krista Roser

Krista Roser is a Nashville-based celebrity stylist.

Julia Marzovilla
Fashion E-Commerce Editor

Julia Marzovilla is the Fashion E-Commerce Editor at Marie Claire, where she reviews the latest launches from fashion and beauty brands, finds the best on-sale items around the internet, and interviews experts to find the best products in any category to share with her readers. She also creates shopping guides that span every vertical on the site as an expert in everything from the best laptop bags to the best laser hair removal devices.

In her near decade of experience, Julia has both written for several top outlets in the E-Commerce space and worked at major fashion labels. Prior to joining the Marie Claire team, she contributed similar shopping stories to sites such as Bustle, InStyle, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear, and worked as the Trending Fashion and News Writer STYLECASTER. You can find her across the internet at @JuliaMarzovilla. In real life, you can find her creating shopping guides for her friends, cooking or baking in her too-small kitchen, or buying tickets for the next time Harry Styles is in town.

Julia has a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Journalism from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. She lives in New York City, her hometown.

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