By Janet Kelly
CALL ME an old preppy, but I love loafers and have been wearing a patent leather lug sole from Paul Green and a Brooks Brothers tasseled suede pair all through this relatively mild winter. But now that spring has sprung, I’m shelving those in favor of lighter-hued versions—à la the look, if not the price tag, of the original Gucci Horsebit Loafer.
Lucky for me, in 2023, the fashion world has bestowed its blessing on just that sort of sleek and understated shoe. Here are 9 that are on my radar for stepping into the season:
As flexible as a ballet slipper but with the style of a loafer, these patent leather shoes come with a comfy insole, elastic sides for easy in and out and a rubber sole for traction. Plus, the peachy color is such a mood booster. They’re $298 from Tory Burch.
Like her late partner Kate Spade, designer Elyce Arons would never settle for a simple loafer. For Frances Valentine, she designed this Suzanne ($298) in soft calf leather with a contrasting leather bow and a square stacked heel for just a little bit more height. If you’re not feeling the pink, it also comes in green and black, too. It looks similar to those spendy Belgian Shoes that a snobby, very rich character in “Succession” might wear—but a lot less stodgy.
Eye-catching silver and gold hues made a big splash on spring/summer 2023 runways—showing up on everything from outerwear and shoes to pants and handbags at Gucci, Valentino and JW Anderson. How fun and refreshing to pair your cream-colored or white pants with metallic loafers. These, from Zara, sell for $79.90. They’re also sure to keep shining when fall rolls around.
This season, raffia, the straw-like natural fiber you typically associate with basket bags or sun hats gets a reboot—woven, twisted, braided, even dyed for new looks in footwear, as well as handbags and clothing. When you want a city-apropos option, consider Veronica Beard’s breezy but sophisticated chain loafer. It sells for $375 at Nordstrom.
Oooh, this Summer Penny Loafer looks oh-so lush and elegant in rich, buttery suede and with its elongated profile. Designed for “warmer months,” it’s unlined and has a rubber sole. Also available in taupe, it’s $325 at Ann Mashburn.
The company that makes weejuns, G.H. Bass, has been around since 1876. Sometimes, magically, old looks new again, like these black-and-white leather penny loafers, which sell for $175 at Bloomingdale’s.
If you’re in lust with Gucci’s 1953 Horsebit Loafer but not so much the price, Sam Edelman has an alternative—the brand’s Loraine Bit Loafer. Shown above in coral peach fabric, it also comes in leather, patent leather and fabric in lots of colors. Pairs well with: straight-leg pants, a summer dress or a pair of jeans with a T-shirt. It is $150.
Like Tory Burch’s pair above, Camper ‘s almond-toe Right Nina loafers in Easter-egg yellow calf leather is another mashup of ballerina slippers and flat with street-ready rubber soles. I see them as an alternative to sneakers and my more rigid flats. They sell for $164 at Farfetch.
On a European trip last fall, I couldn’t help but admire my friend’s fashionable shoes.”What’s the brand?” I asked. “Birdies,” she said. Note to self: That will be easy to remember. Kind of a cross between a slipper and a loafer, these basketweave faux leather flats have layers of cushy insoles and are supportive enough to get you all through the day. They sell for $155.
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