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Loafers vs Boat Shoes

Here is a close look at loafers and boat shoes showcasing their comfort, style, fashion, pairing and events to wear them to determine which is the right pick for your outfit.

These are various loafers and boat shoes on display at a market.

Do you ever get puzzled, just like my brother, in choosing loafers or boat shoes at certain times? In fact, many of the men do not even know the difference. The terms Loafers and boat shoes can not be used interchangeably because both have their unique style.

So when it comes to grooming and fashion, there is no compromise at all. Let us discover the features of the most desired shoes on the planet.

Loafers are non-laced formal shoes having apron toe, with a distinct heel added to the sole.

Whereas boat shoes always have a lacing (mostly 360-degree lacing) and a slight heel as an extension of the sole. All Boat shoes have a moc toe. They suit best with casual outfits.

Wearing loafers or boat shoes is a personal choice. Both have their own fan following. But before filling up your wardrobe with either of them, let’s unsolved the loafers vs. boat shoes puzzle.  

You don’t have to be confused anymore for when to where what? Let’s go.

Loafers vs. Boat Shoes: What is the Difference

Three prominent features provide a unique identity to loafers and boat shoes.

  1. Heel type.
  2. Lacing
  3. Toe type.
  4. Outsole.

Heel Type

This is a man wearing brown leather loafers.

In loafers, a distinct, bit higher heel is presently attached to the sole. It gives loafers a formal look.

In contrast, boat shoes do not have a segregated heel. Instead, the sole is thicker at the posterior side of the sole, ultimately forming a small heel.


A woman wearing a pair of brown leather boat shoes.

Loafers strictly do not have any lacing. If you see any pair of shoes with laces, it can be anything but Loafers.

On the other hand, boat shoes are laced. They have frontal lacing, but many boat shoes also have peripheral or side lacing, known as 360-degree lacing.

Toe Type

This is a close look at a woman wearing a pair of loafers.

Loafers show an apron toe. More clearly, the piece of leather stitched on the vamp covers the upper shoe like an apron. Unlike loafers, boat shoes have a moc toe.

They have an extra piece of leather stitched to the upper side of the shoe, which extends to the toes.


This is a close look at a man wearing a pair of boat shoes.

As the name indicates, boat shoes were originally designed for sailors and boatmen to walk easily on the wet deck of boats. For this purpose, their outsole is made of rubber and is cut siped to provide extra grip on the surface. Though boat shoes are not confined to boats these days, the formula remains the same.

In contrast, the outsole of loafers is made of leather or other synthetic material, often textured but not siped. It also does not offer as much traction as boat shoes do.

Loafers vs. Boat Shoes: Formality Comparison

Based on the research of experienced fashionists of the men’s world, this article will help you select loafers or boat shoes to wear as per the demand of fashion and occasion.

With Formal Dresses

A woman wearing a formal outfit with animal print loafers.

Are you thinking of wearing loafers at the upcoming family event? You are doing it right. Loafers compliment mainly formal outfits because of their near-to-formal look.

They are excellent to wear with dress pants and shirts, or three-piece suits, prom dresses, official dinners, and ballrooms. But they are not strictly formal. You can also wear a pair of loafers with jeans and cotton pants with a polo shirt or a casual coat.

With Casual Dresses

This is a man wearing a casual outfit with his boat shoes.

In comparison to loafers, boat shoes are exclusively casual. You can wear it with almost every simple dress. They give a chic look when put on with shorts, chinos, and jeans.

Jeans are okay with loafers sometimes but never wear them with shorts and chinos. It will make you look like an odd salad, and I am sure you don’t want your fashion sense challenged.

Which Season is Best for Loafers and Boat Shoes?

This is a woman wearing a colorful outfit with her loafers.

Boat shoes are breathable and lightweight. They are best suitable to be worn in the Summer season. In the winter season, boat shoes won’t help you much because your feet will remain cold, and the shoes will give you an old-fashioned impression.

On the other hand, loafers go exceptionally well in winters. They show formality and warmth. Therefore, they are not meant to be put on in the hot season.

Loafers vs. Boat Shoes: Comparing Comfort

A couple of people sailing wearing boat shoes.

When it comes to comfort, loafers cannot match the level of the boat shoes. Boat shoes are highly comfortable, easy, and lightweight. It would help if you always preferred boat shoes over loafers when you have got long-standing hours or walking a meaningful distance.

It doesn’t mean that loafers are uncomfortable, but they do not beat boat shoes in comfort. Boat shoes have a cushioned footbed with cushioned outsole. Its collar and tongue are also soft and padded, incredibly increasing its comfortability.

Should You Wear Socks with Loafers and Boat Shoes?

This is a man wearing a pair of loafers with no socks on.

Although wearing socks under shoes is a personal matter. It depends on whether you feel comfortable with or without them. Yet it is better to wear socks with both of them because loafers and boat shoes cover the whole foot.

Socks will help soak moisture resulting in a reduced risk of fungal infections.

Many men do not wear socks with boat shoes because they are the casual type. Socks are medically essential to wear, but they usually don’t represent the best shoe impression.

Hence, the solution is; wear a pair of no-show or invisible socks which do not go above the ankle. Voila!  You are wearing socks for your comfort but still look sockless, isn’t it cool?

So, don’t forget to grab some no-show socks with your loafers and boat shoes.


Loafers and boat shoes prevail among high-class fashion men all over the world. Men of all regions have immense liking for both of them for everyday use. But sometimes it becomes hard to choose between them.

As far as my personal opinion is concerned, I prefer suggesting loafers as an all-rounder because they are not strict in formality unless the outfit is notably casual. I hope this article helped you with a handful of knowledge.

Loafers or boat shoes? Go, man! Get yours and rule the world.


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Samuel Hubbard: Everything You Need To Know About Boat Shoes