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How To Wear Loafers With Khakis (6 Essential Tips)

August 2, 2023
How To Wear Loafers With Khakis (6 Essential Tips)

Loafers and khakis are both fantastic items for smart-casual settings, but can you really wear them together? 

Pairing loafers with khakis is a great way to dress up for a smart-casual occasion. Consider the color of your loafers (black and brown are the dressiest options) and think about their style. 

Sock color matters more than you may realize; brown works very well when wearing khaki pants. 

While that’s the general answer, there’s much more to it.

So, let’s dig deeper.

khakis and brown shoes
Image From Shutterstock

1. Choose The Right Loafer Color

It’s important to get your loafer color right for the occasion. Remember that black and brown loafers are optimal for dressy events, while brighter, more vivid loafer colors are best kept for more casual occasions.

There is a variety of different loafer colors on the market, from bright, vivid colors to darker, more discreet ones.

Because of this surplus of loafer colors, it can be difficult to know the best ones to wear in each situation.

As well as that, wearing the wrong colored loafers for a scenario should always be avoided.

For example, if you wear colors more suitable for informal attire on a formal occasion, it can come across as rude or disrespectful.

Moreover, doing this can give the impression of a lack of effort on your part.

Therefore, it’s best to make sure you get the color of your loafers right for the occasion.

As a general rule, darker colors are much more suited to dressier situations. Colors such as black and brown are optimal.

While they’re a slight step down in formality, colors like burgundy may still be appropriate for some semi-formal occasions.

However, when you venture into the region of more vivid loafer colors, it’s best to keep them for less formal events.

On occasions where you should try to avoid standing out, such as formal ones, it’s best to avoid any bright or vivid loafer colors.

This is because they will make you stand out more than is appropriate for such situations.

2. Visible Socks May Not Be Necessary

Wearing socks with loafers is a pretty controversial topic. Some people are adamant you must, while others are sworn against it.

In all honesty, loafers look great with or without visible socks; whether or not you wear them is primarily down to the formality levels.

Generally, not having visible socks is best for more casual situations, as it dresses down the outfit a bit, thus making it more relaxed.

If you like this look and decide to go without your socks on show, it’s still best to wear some kind of barrier between your feet and shoes.

Not doing so is generally uncomfortable and unhygienic. The constant rubbing of your feet against your loafers can cause skin irritation.

Therefore, it’s best to wear no-show socks when going for the sockless look.

On the other hand, you should wear socks with your loafers and khakis if attending a more formal event.

Furthermore, if wearing socks with khakis and loafers, make sure they are dress socks.

Any other socks would be too informal for the outfit and, therefore, look out of place.

Khakis and loafers can be worn together for a wide range of different formality levels, so it’s important to consider whether or not socks are necessary.

3. Formal Vs. Casual Loafers

Many people don’t realize there are actually different styles of loafers. In general, horsebit (i.e Gucci) loafers, tassel loafers, and penny loafers are the ideal styles when wearing khakis. 

bit vs penny vs tassel loafers
From right to left – Bit “Gucci”, penny, and tassel loafers

Image From Shutterstock

Typically speaking, there are seven different styles of loafers:

  • Slipper Loafers
  • Penny Loafers
  • Tassel Loafers
  • Belgian Loafers
  • Kiltie Loafers 
  • Basket Loafers
  • Horsebit Loafers

Regularly worn with tuxedos and similar, the slipper loafer is, by far, the most formal loafer choice. 

It has no toe-stitch and minimal decorative detailing (unlike the horsebit loafer, for example). 

This loafer style is far too formal to wear with khakis. While khakis and loafers are generally smart-casual or semi-formal, slipper loafers are primarily formal.

Loafers with a bit of extra detailing are optimal to wear with khakis.

The fact they’re loafers gives them a somewhat dressier feel than sneakers, for example. However, the tassel (or similar decoration) gives them a more relaxed vibe.

That being said, it’s important not to get carried away with the detailing and decoration, as doing so can appear flamboyant.

This means it’s best to avoid suede, patterned, or brightly-colored loafers in dressier settings and leave them for more casual situations instead.

blue suede bit loafers
Blue suede bit loafers

Image From Deposit Photos

It’s also good to avoid basket loafers for situations leaning more toward formal than casual.

4. Consider A Blazer Or Sports Coat

It’s no secret that blazers and sports coats are fantastic ways to dress up an outfit. 

They’re versatile, pair with most smart-casual clothing, and can be taken on or off as needed. 

As well as this, both blazers and sports coats come in a variety of colors and patterns, so you’ll be able to find one suitable for your outfit.

Wearing loafers with khakis is a classic smart-casual outfit, so it makes sense for a blazer or sports coat to work well with it.

Darker, neutral colors such as navy, charcoal, and dark grey look fantastic.

However, if you want to go for something a bit lighter, consider a light grey sports coat or blazer.

Furthermore, wearing a white dress shirt underneath will maximize the smart-casual ambiance of the outfit.

When wearing a white dress shirt underneath your blazer or sports coat, tucking it in is crucial.

Subtle blazer patterns can look great with khakis and loafers and will add some personality to your outfit.

5. Think About Sock Color

A common misconception is that sock color is a minimal part of your outfit or that it doesn’t matter at all. In truth, this is simply not the case. 

Your socks act as the transitional piece between your pants and your shoes. 

Getting the color wrong can be detrimental to the consistency and flow of your outfit, as well as the outfit as a whole.

Therefore, it’s best to carefully consider what socks you put on with your loafers and khakis.

As a general rule of thumb, getting socks a few shades darker than the color of your pants is optimal.

People often think that you should match your socks to your shoes; however, this is usually best avoided.

Instead, try to match them to your pants as best you can. Then go a few shades darker to make them blend in a bit more.

This means that a darker khaki is the best sock color to go with khakis and loafers – particularly more formal loafers.

Sock Variety Collage

Because the word “khaki” refers to a spectrum of khaki colors, there is no exact answer.

Just remember to try and find socks similar to your khakis, and go a couple of shades darker.

As mentioned, socks aren’t always necessary when wearing loafers, so only consider this if you choose to wear socks.

6. It Thrives In Smart-Casual Situations

Finally, it’s important to take into account the formality levels of your outfit – regardless of what you’re wearing.

That being said, khakis and loafers are so commonly worn incorrectly that it’s particularly important to take care when wearing these garments.

As mentioned, this outfit can be dressed up incredibly easily. Put on a blazer or sports coat and wear dress socks to complete the look for semi-formal occasions.

Also, remember that tucked-in, white dress shirts work best with this outfit.

It’s as easy to dress down this outfit as it is to dress it up.

Go for a well-fitted, plain, white T-shirt and no-show socks for a fantastic casual look.

It’s also possible to experiment with the color of your loafers on casual occasions.

While it’s great for casual, smart-casual, and semi-formal occasions, it’s simply not suitable for anything that’s strictly formal.

Events with a black or white-tie dress code, or even a truly formal dress code, should be completely avoided when wearing khakis and loafers.