Originally Posted by archibaldleach
They still seem like a confused item to me and a needless contemporary option. Plain toe oxfords are formal by their very nature. Pumps are formal for the same reason. The "formal loafer" idea strikes me as a weird attempt to dress up a shoe that belongs on the casual end of the spectrum. If one does not fit into pumps, plain toe oxfords are always an option.
I find that the plainness of them works quite well. The ones I have seen do not have the air of informality that a regular loafer has. The smooth upper, running straight into the trouser leg, I find preferable to laces, personally. Though, the interruption of laces can be ameliorated by lacing your shoes with silk ribbon.
That's not to say I think Oxfords are inappropriate; I think they are a perfectly good option. Whole cuts not tradtional either, but for the same reasons of the minimalist design, that I favour the formal loafer, they work quite well.
I would say that, if you are going to wear formal loafers, as with pumps, silk dress hose are mandatory. The whole aesthetic I just described could easily be ruined by anything thicker, or with a fuzzy texture. While I think there are some calf formal loafers on the market, I think they do risk being in the "not sure if on purpose" category. Patent leather ones, at a bare minimum, indicate that one clearly made a conscious choice of these shoes for formal attire.
I readily concede that the formal loafer is a newer item, and may, or may not, be here to stay. I think it's quite good that we have made arguments both for, and against, the shoe, so that @Shambles can consider them, and form his own opinion.