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You can rock loafers with practically anything, according to stylists — here's how

This versatile shoe is "more elevated than a sneaker and more comfortable than a boot.”
TODAY Illustration / Zara / Nordstrom

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Just when you thought every single '90s trend had resurfaced already, along comes another one we can’t get enough of. Loafers are having a moment right now, and for good reason — they’re chic, timeless and super comfortable, too.

According to New York-based stylist and fashion editor Audree Kate Lopez, we’ve been seeing the comeback of many nostalgic footwear trends, including styles like penny loafers, creepers, Doc Martens boots, oxfords and anything lug sole.

“Due to pandemic dressing, trends have leaned more comfortable facing, casual and even gender-neutral — and the loafer hits all of those marks and has remained the go-to fashion shoe into 2022,” explained Lopez. “They're the updated version of the Gucci slide era of 2015, more elevated than a sneaker and more comfortable than a boot.”

Jersey City-based stylist Gianna Nucci considers a good loafer to be a staple piece in anyone’s wardrobe, whether they are trending or not. “That being said, all we’ve been hearing about is sneakers for a long time. I think everyone was ready for a more elevated, polished, but still comfortable shoe they could wear as they started going out with friends again and back to the office,” said Nucci. “While loafers tend to veer toward classic details, we’re seeing them come back in a way that parallels other shoe trends, like lugged sole boots. When classic styles like a loafer reemerge as a trend, customers typically have more fun style varieties to choose from.”

How to wear loafers

The best way to rock a loafer is to style the shoe with an outfit that you would typically wear a sneaker with.

“For example, if you want to wear them with jeans, go for a straight or skinny leg so it hits the top of the loafer. Or, if you want to wear them with a dress, style them with a shorter wrap dress or A-line waistline that hits above your knees,” suggested Lopez. “Find a loafer style that will fit your personal style and wardrobe the best. If you're a trend-driven dresser, a chunky lug sole loafer is great, but if you dress more classic or feminine, go for a more traditional leather penny loafer style in neutrals.”

Nucci loves how versatile they are and suggests wearing them just as you would with any other flat or sneaker.

“One of my favorite ways of wearing loafers is to add a cute ankle sock if styling with shorts or mini skirts and dresses,” said Nucci. “I also advise picking a pant length that shows a little ankle with a loafer for a more contemporary look. You want to make sure your pant hem doesn’t conflict with the top of the loafer, since that can throw off the balance of your outfit.”

When should you not wear loafers?

While loafers can be super versatile when paired with different outfits, both Lopez and Nucci agree to avoid loafers with athleisure.

“I’d probably keep athleisure looks to a sneaker,” said Nucci. “Otherwise, it might look like you forgot to pack your gym shoes. I also find them to be too casual for formalwear, so if you’re someone that can’t do a small heel, try to find a dressier flat for a special occasion.”

Women's loafers recommended by stylists

Zara Soft Split Leather Loafers

“These are a great neutral color, while the stitching and silver hardware help elevate this classic option,” said Nucci about these flat leather loafers from Zara. Their cushy Airfit® insole also makes for cozier strides throughout your day.

Aldo Gililiaflex Loafers

“Loafers are a great way to incorporate texture into your look,” explained Nucci about these "smart casual" Aldo loafers. “This is a good option that’s not too loud, but still adds interest.”

Asos Sky Padded Heeled Loafers

“This blocked-heeled style is a nice twist on the flat mule loafer,” said Nucci. “It’s a great option for those who prefer a little boost, and the white color can definitely be worn into warmer seasons.”

Sam Edelman Women's Caylia Tassel Loafers

“Just as loafers are great for adding texture to a look, they are also great to utilize for adding color,” said Nucci. “This cute colorblock style with the prep chic tassel is a nice option to help add a little personality to your look.”

Vince Camuto Cedeen Heeled Loafer

“These Vince Camuto heeled loafers are great for the feminine dresser who cannot live without her heels,” said Lopez. “They are a great replacement for your daytime heels and are more fashion-forward than a classic nude pump for 2022.”

Dolce Vita Crys Loafers

“These are a more modern twist on the classic leather loafer,” explained Lopez. “The chunky hardware adds a bit of toughness and a nod to '90s grunge aesthetic but not overdone.”

Madewell Maguire Sintra Loafer

“I love these black and white Madewell loafers because they give a sense of nostalgia, from the popular early to mid-1900s saddle shoes for women and oxfords for men, to the '90s punk creepers,” said Lopez. These penny loafers also incorporate the chunky sole look that's popular right now!

Bernardo Selma Loafer

“I love the small block heel on this one,” said Nucci. “It’s great for petites looking for a little extra height and to help anyone balance longer silhouettes.”

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