While its origins remains unclear, the loafer has certainly grown to become a beloved style staple with a wide appeal over the decades. This sleek and polished shoe style blends femininity and masculinity to create a truly gender-neutral design that anyone can enjoy. A sensible, comfortable and stylish footwear choice, loafers will always have a spot in any modern woman’s wardrobe. Read on to find out how you can choose a perfect pair that will suit your lifestyle and fashion personality — from evergreen penny loafers to statement-making platform loafers, there is a pair for everyone.

What are loafers?

Women’s Gabine leather loafers in black - CHARLES & KEITH

Loafers are a type of slip-on shoe characterised by their laceless, fastening-free design, low heels, and exposed ankles.

The origins of loafers remain somewhat uncertain. Some trace their roots back to the teser, a traditional laceless shoe worn by Norwegian fishermen and villagers, while others draw parallels to the Native American moccasin as the inspiration behind the design.

In any case, loafers have evolved into a popular footwear choice for both men and women, prized for their ease of wear and versatility.

During the 1950s and 1960s, loafers experienced a surge in popularity among Ivy League students seeking a balance between casual comfort and polished style. By the 1970s, they had become an iconic symbol of preppy fashion, a legacy that lives on today.

In modern times, loafers have undergone multiple transformations — chunky soles, metallic embellishments, and even built-in socks refresh and elevate their evergreen design. Today's fashion enthusiasts no longer view loafers solely as a means to achieve a preppy-chic look. Instead, they use them to make bold and daring style statements.


Types of Women's Loafers

A mainstay in the wardrobes of several generations, loafers continue to be an enduring style staple. In recent times, they have been reinterpreted in refreshing new silhouettes that reflect the trends of the current season, but a handful of styles have remained forever favourites.

Women’s covered ridge-sole loafers in black - CHARLES & KEITH

Penny Loafers

The most classic of them all, penny loafers are identifiable by straps across the vamps featuring slits just big enough to slot a coin. Starting off as a light, slip-on shoe worn by Norwegian farmers, penny loafers have since evolved to be a distinctive yet versatile style. Its unisex appeal lies in the structured contours and chunky low block heels, which come together to create a subtle yet bold silhouette. Most typically incorporated into the preppy aesthetic, penny loafers in dark neutral hues, like black and brown, are effortlessly stylish everyday shoes. For a more experimental look, two-toned and patterned finishes can add visual interest, while coloured options infuse playfulness into the sensible design.

Women’s Thalia leather loafer mules in beige - CHARLES & KEITH

Loafer Mules

Adapting loafers for busy lifestyles, loafer mules, or backless loafers, combine a slip-on style with the classic loafer design. The added breathability makes these a more relaxed alternative to the original that you can wear on off-duty days and during the weekends. Style them with voluminous bottoms to let just the fronts peek out, or embrace the look by pairing them with relaxed skirts and dresses.

Women’s Perline chunky penny loafers in dark brown - CHARLES & KEITH

Lug Sole Loafers

Lug soles are thick rubber soles with indentations that provide more grip, and the incorporation of this feature into the classic loafer gives it a rugged and utilitarian appearance. This chunkier silhouette gives the polished profile an edgy vibe, while providing better traction for comfortable and secure all-day wear.

Women’s Giselle strap chunky patent loafers in cream - CHARLES & KEITH

Chunky Sole Loafers

Modern looks call for contrasting yet well-balanced details, and chunky sole loafers bring those elements together with flair. The weightier bottoms inject boldness into the minimal style, which maintains an understated appearance. Add them to your outfits for a subtle, unexpected twist on the classic look.

Women’s Monique platform loafer pumps - CHARLES & KEITH

Platform Loafers

Platform loafers feature supersized, chunky outsoles and towering block heels, so you can be sure that they will make you stand out from the crowd. They deliver a big style impact while still being sturdy and easy to walk in. Playing up the proportions of the timeless loafer style, platform loafers have a distinctly modern look.

Women’s Catelaya metallic accent loafer pumps in chalk - CHARLES & KEITH

Heeled Loafers

The addition of heels to the unisex loafer gives this classic shoe style a feminine touch, making them perfectly suited for work and more formal occasions. They accentuate the sleek profile of the loafers, elevating them so they have a flattering leg-lengthening effect. To dress them up, wear them with socks and skirts to create an elegant ensemble.

Women’s tassel penny loafers - CHARLES & KEITH

Tassel Loafers

If you like your loafers with embellishments, tassels are a tasteful option. They add a touch of flair to the sleek and polished style, complementing its sophisticated design with visual interest. Distinctive and versatile at the same time, tassel loafers offer the most style mileage with neutral-toned finishes.

What colour loafers to get?

In this section, we will look at some of the various colours, ranging from neutral hues to bold alternatives, that are popular choices when it comes to loafers. While being mostly dependent on personal preference and individual style, the colour of loafers you pick also rests on several factors, such as the type of outfit you will be pairing them with and the occasion you are wearing them for.

Without a doubt, loafers in timeless colours like black and white take the top spot in terms of wearability and versatility. They are failsafe colours that will match effortlessly with any outfit and are perfect for any occasion. For those who prefer a warmer and softer palette, neutral tones like brown, beige and cognac are the ones to go for.

On the other end of the colour spectrum, bold shades like cherry red and deep burgundy are also favourites. Bright red is especially great for adding a pop of colour to your look, while deep burgundy is considered to be almost a neutral tone that will pair well with most outfits. Don’t be afraid to incorporate more colours into your ensembles — and whichever colour you choose, it is always important to consider how they will complement your lifestyle and existing wardrobe.

How to style women’s loafers?

No matter the mood or occasion, these style tips on how to wear your loafers will help you put together the perfect ensemble.

Women’s Gabine leather pull-tab loafers in black - CHARLES & KEITH

For everyday elegance

Elegant, comfortable, and versatile, loafers are an excellent choice for everyday wear. Select a pair in classic neutral tones like black for timeless appeal. They will complement jeans beautifully, so you can never go wrong pairing them with your favourite denim and a classic t-shirt to create a chic off-duty look. Consider swapping the t-shirt for a simple white button-down shirt or a cosy oversized sweater — these pieces will elevate the outfit while maintaining its relaxed vibe. To add a stylish flair to your casual outfit, you can also swap out flat loafers for ones with eye-catching platform soles.


Women’s covered ridge-sole loafers in black - CHARLES & KEITH

For professional settings

When styling loafers for the office, opt for classic neutral tones like black, brown, and beige to maintain a sophisticated appearance. Pairing them with tailored trousers will always yield a polished, professional look. Alternatively, they also complement pencil skirts and A-line dresses, striking a balance between femininity and masculinity, resulting in a distinctive yet office-appropriate ensemble. To inject some visual intrigue into your outfit, opt for loafers with understated metallic accents — they will add a touch of subtle glamour without sacrificing professionalism.


Women’s Lexie two-tone metallic-accent loafers in dark brown - CHARLES & KEITH

For romantic date nights

On date nights, prioritising comfort is essential so you can focus on enjoying quality time together. Loafers offer a stylish alternative that ensures you look chic and elegant wherever you go. If you desire a height boost, consider loafers with chunky soles or tall block heels, which have the effect of stilettos with the bonus of comfort and stability. Pair them with sleek black leather pants or a flowing midi skirt for a chic yet effortless look. If you are aiming for a more romantic vibe, consider accessorising with delicate jewellery or a statement clutch to complete the look.

Women’s Monique square-toe loafers in black - CHARLES & KEITH

With socks

Wearing loafers with socks isn’t just a style choice — this way of wearing loafers is also highly practical, as it keeps your feet warm, especially during the fall and winter months. If you are keen on this look, choose socks in neutral shades like black and white. They will match well with everything and put a charming schoolgirl element in your outfit. Loafers, when paired with socks, will complement both trousers and skirts. On days when you are feeling more adventurous, putting on socks in fun patterns or vibrant colours can add a playful touch to your ensemble.

How to choose the right fit?


While loafers are typically already a comfortable footwear choice, there are details you can look out for to find a fit that works specifically for you. Thicker soles, like platform soles, provide more cushioning for all-day wear, while ridged and treaded soles ensure better traction for walking on rough terrain and urbanscapes like cobblestone roads. Those with wider feet should consider square-toed styles, while round-toed and almond-toed options are better suited for narrower feet.


If your loafers fit you well, they should feel snug without any significant pinching sensation — also, they should not be slipping off the feet when you walk in them. Your styling preferences should also be taken into consideration. For instance, if you intend to style them with socks, or if you favour tapered styles, consider sizing up for more room.

It is also worth noting that as loafers get more wear, particularly those made with leather, they will gradually mould better to the shape of your foot. You can stretch them by wearing thick socks to speed up the process.

Foot support

Certain loafer styles may already come with thicker in-soles that will better support the arches of your feet, but wherever that is not in-built, consider purchasing cushioned inserts. There are inserts that provide arch support, as well as support for the heels and balls of the feet. Pick inserts that are breathable and moisture-wicking to prevent odours from building up in closed-toed styles.


Leather and faux leather are the most common options for longevity, as these materials are waterproof and durable with a polished appearance. With proper maintenance, suede is also a sturdy material with a distinctive aesthetic. For hotter climates, lightweight canvas loafers offer better breathability. Depending on your styling needs and the occasions you are wearing them for, different materials are suited for different purposes.

How to care for loafers?

Proper shoe care is absolutely essential in keeping your loafers in pristine condition while also extending their shelf-life so you can wear your favourite pair for a long time. In this section, we offer useful care and maintenance tips that will keep your loafers looking their best.

Material specific care

Leather loafers: As a general rule, it is good to clean them every 10 to 15 wears, or whenever you notice a build-up of dirt and grime. Regular conditioning with a wax polish is necessary to prevent the leather from drying out (after 20 to 25 wears). This also helps in the upkeep of their polished and shiny finish.

Suede loafers: Suede requires slightly higher maintenance and care. As a general rule, it is good to brush and clean your suede loafers after each wear. A more thorough cleaning should be done every 5 to 7 wears, or whenever you notice a stain. For light stains, you can carefully blot the area with water and leave them to dry while for more severe stains, dab a small amount of white vinegar on the affected area to spot clean and leave to dry.


Storage is a crucial aspect of shoe care — proper storage will enhance the durability of your loafers, and ensure that they do not fall apart even after extended periods of minimal wear.

Firstly, the use of shoe trees will help maintain their shape, as well as prevent creasing. Secondly, it is best to store your loafers in their original dust bag and box packaging to protect them from unwanted dust and dirt.

Lastly, it is important to keep your loafers in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight or any heat sources. Excessive heat and moisture build-up can cause these shoes to dry out, crack and make them susceptible to mould.


Another easy step you can take to protect your loafers is by waterproofing them with an appropriate waterproof spray that is specially made for the material of your shoes. This process creates a barrier against moisture and prevents stains.

Professional cleaning

Although regular cleaning and maintenance can significantly extend the lifespan of your loafers, but there may come a time when professional services are needed. Whether it’s extensive damage, deep stains or sole repairs, taking your loafers to a professional means that they will receive the expert care they deserve. Professional maintenance can also restore your loafers to their former glory, giving them a new lease of life.

Now that you know how to choose, style and maintain them, you are going to love loafers even more. We have demonstrated the versatility of this classic shoe style by showing you how you can wear them to suit various looks and occasions. Pay attention to the details so you can pick a pair that fits your feet perfectly — and if you take care of them, these are shoes that will stay in your style rotation for a long time to come because they never go out of fashion. Flat or heeled, neutral-toned or brightly-hued, loafers are here to stay.