Best Women's Loafers

Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best women's loafers

Loafers are a time-tested shoe style that’s here to stay. The modern women’s loafer is a flat-soled, slip-on shoe and a contemporary adaptation of a man’s dress shoe. However, a women’s loafer is elongated with a more pointed toe. Loafers, also known as “slip-ons,” are easy to put on, wear, and take off. Comfortable and stylish loafers deserve a place in every woman’s wardrobe, as you can wear them almost anywhere, anytime.

Women’s loafers can be dressed up or dressed down, flattering feet in a diverse array of materials and colors. They pair well with a variety of outfits for a wide range of occasions and activities, including those that are formal. The classic slip-on style does not include fastenings or laces, and they are typically crafted from suede or leather.

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Wear women’s loafers with blazers and jeans, a mini-skirt and a long duster, tights, or khakis — you’re only limited by your imagination and unique fashion sense.

Key considerations

Places to wear loafers

If you’re heading to the mall, sightseeing, meeting friends for lunch, or walking your dog in the park, you’ll appreciate the comfort loafers provide. You can enjoy your daily activities rather than focusing on finding a place to stop, sit, and rest your weary feet.

  • Shopping: While sneakers may be handy and easy on your feet, they won’t provide too much in the way of coordination when looking for elegant clothing. Loafers pair well with almost any fashion. Whether you’re trying on slacks or skirts, loafers allow you to see how an outfit looks with fashionable shoes.

  • Back to school: This back-to-school classic should be on your to-buy list if you’re gearing up for campus living. Style loafers with a tailored skirt, or pair them with your favorite skinny jeans. Then, head off to class in comfort.

  • Weekend casual: The masculine element of women’s loafers complements a relaxed “button-down and tailored denim” look or a leather bomber jacket with ripped skinny jeans. Projecting understated elegance, leather loafers readily make the transition through seasons and styles.

  • Formal occasions: Sleek black leather or patent leather women’s loafers are a perfect match for tuxedo trousers.

Comfort

Women’s loafers with a slip-resistant sole are ideal for the workplace. They keep you smiling because your feet don’t hurt after a long day of standing. Pregnant women love loafers, too — the flat soles offer stability, support, and comfort without sacrificing style.

Features

Materials

Women's loafers are available in a wide assortment of materials, including leather, synthetics, textiles, and rubber. When it comes to fit and comfort, shoe material can make a big difference. Leather tends to be flexible and breathable, but it’s pricier, too. Synthetic shoes — those made from “man-made” materials — are not as breathable, but they also tend to be more affordable. Shoes made of textiles come in a wide variety of colors and weaves. If you’re looking for something unique with a bit of character, a textile loafer may be your best bet. However, textile shoes aren’t always waterproof, and they may show dirt sooner than other types of materials.

Ankle and heel

Loafers frequently feature a leather or fabric section across the vamp and a low, flat heel or a thin heel with a low profile. The ankle is exposed, and the shoe does not wrap snugly around the foot. If you’re a person who relies on their shoes for ankle support, loafers may not be the right choice.

Fit and comfort matter when it comes to the heel. The heel should fit comfortably, and the loafers should not ride up and down at the heel when you walk, lest you develop blisters or other foot discomforts.

If you get loafers in spite of having concerns about the fit or comfort, you may end up avoiding that pair and leaving it to sit in your closet — a waste of money, to be sure.

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Did you know?
Women’s loafers are an excellent shoe choice when making the transition from winter to spring when snow is melting and you’re tired of wearing boots but it isn’t warm enough for sandals.
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Women’s loafers: prices

Merchant, brand, and quality of craftsmanship determine loafer prices.

Inexpensive: In the lower price range, expect to pay from $18 to $45. Women’s loafers in this range may use synthetic or inferior quality leather. It’s a good choice when you’re looking for a specific color or style to tie an outfit together, but don’t expect the long-term durability of more expensive loafers.

Mid-range: Mid-range classic women’s leather loafers cost from $45 to $165. These loafers tend to be name brand, comfortable, and well crafted.

Expensive: In the higher price range, a pair of finely tooled leather women’s loafers sell for $250 and upward.

Tips

  • Unfortunately, accidents happen. If you twist your ankle or stub your toe, a flat-soled, flexible, and lightweight leather loafer is the ideal shoe to support and protect an injured foot during the recovery process. Leather loafers allow feet to walk and rest comfortably.

  • Leather breathes, reducing corns, bunions, blisters, sweat, and odor.

  • When choosing a new pair of women’s loafers, make sure there is adequate “wiggle room” (half an inch) for your longest toe at the end of the loafer when standing. The ball of the foot should fit comfortably in the widest part of the loafer. Avoid shoes that feel too tight. Note that women’s loafers tend to be snug when new, but they stretch out with daily wear.

  • When measuring your foot to fit a pair of loafers, it is best to do it at the end of the workday when your feet are tired and swollen. Line your heel against a straight edge (chair leg or base of a stair). Position a ruler parallel to your foot with the end of the ruler touching the same straight edge as your heel. Measure the length of your foot from the tip of your longest toe (which may not be your big toe) to the back edge of your heel.

  • Because most folks have one foot that is larger than the other, fit loafers to accommodate the larger foot.

  • When we lose or gain weight or as we age, the shape of our torso changes and so does the shape of our feet. Measure the shape of your foot each time you select a new pair of loafers.

 

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Whether or not you wear them with socks, women’s loafers work well with any style of dress.

FAQ

Q. Why are women’s loafers with a slit in the band across the instep called penny loafers?

A. Penny loafers earned their name in the 1900s when mothers sought a foolproof way for children to store loose change for a phone call. And yes, in 1900, phone calls only cost a penny.

Q. What’s the difference between a loafer and a moccasin?

A. Loafers have a separate sole and a defined heel; moccasins do not. Moccasins may be enhanced with beads and fringe; loafers are not. However, tasseled loafers are a popular “laid-back” casual shoe.

Q. Who invented women’s loafers?

A. In 1930, a fashion designer by the name of Niles Gregoriusson Tveranger introduced a new shoe style called the “Aurland moccasin.” Later that year, Spaulding started producing shoes based on Tveranger’s model and called them loafers. Originally designed for men, the loafer style was soon adapted as a popular style worn by women, too.

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