History of loafers
Shoes that could remotely remind you of loafers were first worn by Native Americans, except for the fact that those had no heels. A closer “relative” to loafers is a type of shoes invented by Norwegian fishermen, and it is Norway where one of the first pairs of loafers was produced by the shoemaker called Nils Gregoriusson Tveranger. This happened in 1930 (to put it more precisely, Tveranger made similar shoes from the beginning of the 20th century, but those did not have heels). However, four years earlier loafers appeared in the UK –– due to the artisan Raymond Levi Wildsmith, from whom they were ordered by king George VI. Later, in the middle of 1930s, the American company G.H.Bass & Co introduced their loafers Weejuns to the market.
Already by the end of the XX th century loafers gained huge popularity both in Europe and in America. They became popular with students from different universities and the nobility including The Duke of Windsor, who ruled Great Britain for some time under the name of Edward VIII. This type of footwear was worn both with suits and with informal trousers. According to Bernhard Roetzel, «loafers have already become classics, but at important formal events it is preferable to wear shoes with laces». However, Roetzel further states that in the US dark loafers with tassels can even be combined with strict formal suits.
Loafers in a wardrobe
Loafers in dark-brown and burgundy are good because of their universality — some models can be worn with both jeans, chinos and many other types of odd trousers and even suits. The Italian can easily wear brown loafers with a dark-blue business suit, however, the more conservative British would prefer strict Oxford shoes in this case. Black loafers are of course stricter than brown ones, but they have a lower compatibility potential — they hardly match with jeans or light-coloured odd trousers, but from a conservative point of view they are still less formal than black laced Oxford shoes.
The list of admirers of loafers is quite long — it includes Michael Jackson, the Duke of Windsor, John Kennedy, Elvis Presley and James Dean, who, according to Josh Sims, “made loafers an integral element of his attire combining them with jeans and a T-shirt”.
Still, loafers are considered a completely informal model so it is strictly advised against wearing them together with formal suits. It is casual trousers, jumpers, cardigans, T-shirts and stylish shirts that you should opt for if you like this type of shoes. By the way, a lot of gentlemen, including those who prefer classic style, keep a pair of loafers in their car — this model is ideal for driving, which cannot be said about monks, for example.