The Loafer: The (Dressy) Alternative to the Boat Shoe

There's another option for the warmer months besides boat shoes and flip flips.

Don't get me wrong – the boat shoe is an awesome first choice in upgrading your casual footwear for the summer months. It looks great with shorts, chinos, jeans, basically anything you throw at it. And while it is certainly dressier than what you used to wear with those items, mainly flip flops or sneakers, they are still definitely for casual-wear only. You could never wear them in any environment above casual khakis.

So what's the next level up? Loafers. You may look at them and think that they're dress shoes – which they can be – but it's all in what you pair them with. A rich, low-profile pair of loafers, like these featured Florsheim Berkleys ($100) are a sleek warm weather option for anytime you want to be a little more up-town instead of boardwalk.

Get them: Florsheim | Amazon

The Loafer

The dressy boat shoe alternative with loafers

Slim, Straight Jeans

Loafers with jeans

Slip on a pair of loafers with dark, slim-straight jeans just as you would with brown bluchers. The key to the look is the trim leg with minimal break, otherwise the low profile of the shoes won't be in proportion.

Jeans: Gap Selvedge, $89
Socks: Target, $1.99


Loafers with blue pants

Just like with a boat shoe, loafers look right at home with chinos or khakis. As with jeans, it's important that the pants have a tailored fit.

Chinos: Gap Lived-In Slim Khaki, $60

Cuffed Selvedge Denim

Man wearing jeans with loafers

Cuff a pair of slim selvedge jeans and go sockless for a classic look that works just as well with a t-shirt as an oxford or polo.

Jeans: Gap Selvedge, $89

Stand Out in a Suit

Man wearing loafers with a suit

Mix it up for the office. Unlike boat shoes, the right loafers look great with a navy or gray suit.

Suit: Indochino Ultimate Navy, $379

Leather Soles

Leather soles
Upgrade from the chunky rubber soles of cheaper shoes to leather.

Other Picks

Collage of loafer styles

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Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.