Fashion & Beauty

‘Back-to-School’ Loafers

Clockwise, from left to right: Massimo Dutti’s creased patent loafers with horsebit detail ($169), a black suede slip-on with cheetah tassel ($140) from Birdies, a leather mule with padded insole and rubber outsole ($140) and an out-of-the-ordinary herringbone print ($169) with a charcoal sole from Rothy’s. 

By Janet Kelly

MOST of us are not going back to school; many of us not back to an office. But when my virtual calendar turns to September, something in my hard drive clicks, reminding me to change my footwear. My steadfast shoe has always been a loafer but the mainstay penny loafer we wore in elementary school and beyond—although it’s still around albeit tweaked—has evolved into a variety of styles and design details—chunky lug soles, platforms, backless silhouettes, minimalist shapes, all updated in different colors, finishes and materials. Moreover, they offer the comfort we’ve come to appreciate over the last few years plus they work with just about everything, from shortish shifts to midi skirts to maxi dresses. Some of our favorite looks below:


London-based Dear Frances works with a team of artisan shoemakers in Italy who use high-quality, sustainable materials to produce their luxe footwear. This Joss loafer is made in super-soft suede with a hand-stitched upper and finished with leather welts and lightweight rubber soles. Also available in a lush green, they sell for $550.



Refresh your back-to-school look with Schutz‘s Rhino loafer in a military green hue that’s just as much a neutral as the classic brown or black. It sells for $178 at Anthropologie.


These rich-looking, croc-embossed leather loafers with stacked heel and cushioned footbed from Emme Parsons will spruce up your ground game. They sell for $495 at Shopbop.


Go really old-school in moka calf loafers from Berlin-based footwear company Aeyde. The style is based on a 1960s silhouette discovered in the archives of the label’s Italy-based factory. Also available in black and in patent leather, they sell for $395.



Metallics in fashion are nothing new, but they’ve made a sparkly comeback this spring that continues strong for fall. Made in durable leather, Tory Burch‘s classic loafer ($358) with scalloped edges will light up simple skirts, jeans and cozy knits.



Even an old-school company can change its tune to playful. Take this pair of weejuns in black and white (also available in a spruce green), designed with a dainty grosgrain bow ornament. Take the seriousness out of a suit with this pair that sells for $175 at G.H. Bass.


At first lug soles didn’t appeal but now I appreciate the height and the traction. I would wear these Reformation loafers ($268, Shopbop) with a pared-down palette of black jeans and a camel coat. If you worry they’re too chunky-looking, pair them with a midi skirt for balance. Tone down a girly dress with these cool shoes in slightly glossy black leather.


Vertically challenged? Step into these Suzanne Rae black velvet platform loafers with grosgrain trim and bow and a 3-inch-high heel. They’re on final sale at Garmentory for $177.23, reduced from $695.




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3 thoughts on “‘Back-to-School’ Loafers

  1. Nancy G says:

    I have two pairs of loafers, both black (of course), which I wear a decent amount. But my eyes are drawn to greens these days. Love the Schutz ones!

  2. Maureen Young says:

    I wore penny loafers for at least 20 years — and loved them! Thanks to this column I am emboldened to wear them again (at my advanced age!). xxmaureen

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      I’ve been wearing a couple of pairs of mine–blue suede and patent leather–and loving them.

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