While structure is so important to quality footwear that fits well and stands the test of time, spring and summer tend to require something a little different out of shoes—namely comfort, especially if you’re the kind of person who begins hating socks every May.
Unlined shoes are one of the best ways to gain that comfort. Their lack of an interior leather lining means you end up with a shoe that is lighter, flexible, more breathable, and quicker to dry out after a long hard day of loafing so hard that your feet sweat uncontrollably.
While plenty of brands create all manner of unlined shoe styles, few things say “the weather is now nice, and I am a happy individual once more” than loafers. Below is a roundup of some of our favorite unlined men’s loafers—most of which are traditional penny or horsebit loafers, but a couple of which nudge that boundary outward.
Nobody does affordable quality like Meermin Mallorca, and much of their stock of $195 unlined loafers—for which Meermin also trimmed down the vegetable-tanned leather insole to really push the lightweight/easy break-in envelope—sold out quickly in the first made to order run. There are still some available, though, in this copper alicante suede from La France’s Tannerie d’Annonay.
Ok, so these may not be “loafers” in a traditional sense, but 1) that’s really only because they take the distinction of camp moccasin, and/or possibly boat shoe, and 2) who cares, because they are as definitional as light, comfortable summer footwear can get. The Coyote Sumner roughout from Maine’s Tasman tannery is a military-grade reverse leather that’s here to take a beating.
There’s always a place in any shoe collection for a classic, slightly chunkier beefroll penny—so named for the section of the upper at the end of the penny keeper that looks like a piece of beef all cinched up with cooking twine (apparently “porchetta shoes” didn’t have a wide enough appeal). Rancourt makes one of the best for the price, especially considering they construct all of their hand-stitched shoes in Maine, including these in Horween Color 8 Chromexcel.
Yuketen designer Yuki Matsuda tends to see the world a little differently than the rest of us. While that vision extends out as far as some of the more uniquely beautiful shell cordovan wingtips I’ve ever seen, these bit loafers are closer to his core focus—moccasin-style constructions on footwear that manages to be timeless and tremendously wearable despite also being able to function as legitimate fashion. It’s tough to go wrong with brown Chromexcel leather; they’ve also got them in black.
Cobbler Union is headquartered in Atlanta, but they create their consistently impressive shoes in Spain. This Goodyear welted loafer is crafted from an upscale suede from Italy’s Sciara tannery, and features a single leather sole for extra flex and comfort.
Allan Baudoin set out to make the most comfortable loafers in the world, and it’s even possible that he succeeded. These unlined beauties, designed in the Belgian slipper tradition and hand-stitched in London, are just sitting in a box somewhere, begging your feet to mold them into the deeply formed shoe they want to grow up to be.
This is possibly the most unoriginal pick imaginable, and also one of the most necessary. Alden’s unlined game is as strong as anyone’s (their unlined chukka boot and unlined Dover are summer icons in their own right), and their loafer in snuff suede ensures that the “classic” box is completely filled in with a No. 2 pencil, without any marks extending out over the lines. Single leather outsoles with added flex make moving around—and breaking in—extra easy.
Spring and summer tend to be about light colors. 139-year-old English shoemaker Crockett & Jones thinks they’re also a great opportunity to wear a deep, wonderful blue. For those wise enough to be familiar with their line, the Richmond is the unlined version of their Grantham II loafer, with single leather soles.
And then, there’s this kind of blue loafer—less deep, and plenty more daring (they also have a new orange model as well). For now you can only buy them at J.M. Weston shops, but I’ll update if they become available online.
No list of essential shoes is complete without at least some shell cordovan. To be sure, the incredibly robust horse rump leather that refuses to crease (and instead “rolls”) isn’t quite as breathable or flexible as suede or a nice calf leather. But the Mallorcan shoe geniuses at Carmina went unlined with this beautifully apron-stitched horsebit model anyway.
To be honest, I wish Lobb made an unlined version of the Lopez, the most classic Lobb loafer and arguably their most important shoe overall. But (as far as I know) they don’t! At least not at the moment. So these Thorne loafers, complete with their thin rubber soles, will do the trick for Lobb lovers.
Few companies of any kind create dignified luxury as fluently as Northampton, England’s Edward Green, as proven by these unlined Duke loafers with a thin rubber sole in mid-beige mushroom suede.