The stylish gentlemen who made loafers iconic

The loafer in all its guises are the gentleman's essential for effortless style

Frances Ford Coppola in his American Zoetrope movie studio in San Francisco, 1970 wearing Gucci loafers

It’s said that a gentleman should own five iconic styles of shoe: brogues, oxfords, loafers, boots and sneakers. If you ever seem stuck in a rut about which pair to invest in next, then the loafer is the perfect balance of smart and casual – as its easily slipped on, and aptly pairs handsomely with both a suit or pair of jeans.

Steeped in rich history, the loafer can be traced back to 1926 where London shoemaker, Wildsmith Shoes made a bespoke country house shoe for King George VI, which was later refined to the casual slip-on shoe, the London loafer, that is still made to this day. Fast forward a decade in Maine, the Penny loafer was made and by 1953, Gucci’s iconic horsebit loafer quickly established quintessential, Italian elegance.

It should come as no surprise that the leisurely guise of the loafer has been made iconic by some of the most stylish gentlemen, from J.F. Kennedy and in more recent times, Leonardo DiCaprio.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon as Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Playing con man Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Matt Damon’s sense of 1950s Italian style is to be admired, thanks to his pair of Gucci horse-bit loafers, worn with turn-up trousers and no socks. They look just as effortless today as they did decades ago, when Frances Ford Coppola in his American Zoetrope movie studio in San Francisco, wore his favourite Gucci horse-bits in 1970, as worn in the main image.

Elvis Presley wears monochrome loafers

Elvis Presley

Eternally benchmarking the iconic blue suede shoes during the 50s, Elvis Presley wore his loafers with pride, and style, by pairing them with argyle socks or showing his ankles. You’d be forgiven for thinking that he never thought twice about his esteemed penny loafers as they endured his signature dance moves.

Gene Kelly jumps in iconic photograph wearing black loafers

Gene Kelly

Gene’s athletic build and captivating ballet dancing skills was immortalised in An American in Paris (1951). However gentlemen, we wouldn’t want to catch you singin’ in the rain in your favourite pair of calfskin loafers…

Further Reading