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What is the proper fit for leather loafers?

Alozano

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I bought a pair of leather loafers today and need an opinion on the fit. I wear a size 9 1/2, but have uneven feet(right foot is slightly bigger than the left), which I have to take into account when sizing for shoes. In the store I tried on two pairs and had to size down; the size 8 1/2 felt really good(practically a perfect fit) and slid right on, it has a small heel slip however when arching my foot. I also tried a size 8, which felt snug(but not uncomfortably tight or anything, I can wiggle my toes in the toebox for instance), I'd say it felt like a firm handshake. I need to use a shoe horn to get the shoes on however; I also tried them on with a pair of thicker socks that I wear, and the right foot is noticeably uncomfortable with the toes feeling cramped.
I ended up buying the size 8, because the sales person said due to them being leather the material will stretch and break in, and it would be better for them to be start off more snug because of this. I also read around and saw some sites claiming you don't want heel slippage, due to the leather breaking in and causing the shoe to start to slide around later and be too loose of a fit. Was this correct and did I make the right choice getting the size 8 instead of the 8 1/2, or was the 8 1/2 actually the better fit for how a leather loafer should be when buying them? I don't really have experience with this type of shoe so input from people with more experience with them would be greatly appreciated.
 

DorianGreen

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The fit on a loafer can actually be an issue: as much as I love the style, I still have none in my not small collection. All the models I tried on (John Lobb, Crocket & Jones, KLH) didn't work, mostly because of massive slippage, which can't be reduced simply sizing down, as this, of course, will impact the overall balance and fit. The crucial point, as I see, is having a tight heel which hugs the foot, preventing any slippage. I have a pretty narrow foot with a lower instep and maybe this is the reason because it seems so difficult to find a proper last. I had the luck, finally, to find a suitable one, as I visited the exquisite Mr Yoshimoto of Perticone Bespoke during my journey in Rome last Fall, and commissioned a pair which is supposed to be delivered in June.

As for your choice, if the fit is comfortably snug, as you said, you certainly went right with the size 8, because, as I pointed out, slippage is the main issue for a loafer. And the sales person was right, the leather will break in and the foot will "accomodate" in the foot bed, thus the shoe will feel less snug.
 
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Alozano

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The fit on a loafer can actually be an issue: as much as I love the style, I still have none in my not small collection. All the models I tried on (John Lobb, Crocket & Jones, KLH) didn't work, mostly because of massive slippage, which can't be reduced simply sizing down, as this, of course, will impact the overall balance and fit. The crucial point, as I see, is having a tight heel which hugs the foot, preventing any slippage. I have a pretty narrow foot with a lower instep and maybe this is the reason because it seems so difficult to find a proper last. I had the luck, finally, to find a suitable one, as I visited the exquisite Mr Yoshimoto of Perticone Bespoke during my journey in Rome last fall, and commissioned a pair which is supposed to be delivered in June.

As for your choice, if the fit is comfortably snug, as you said, you certainly went right with the size 8, because, as I pointed out, slippage is the main issue for a loafer. And the sales person was right, the leather will break in and the foot will "accomodate" in the foot bed, thus the shoe will feel less snug.

What about that issue when trying them with thick socks? I tried the same pair on with thick socks, and am noticing the right foot is uncomfortably tight now, like my toes feeling cramped. I worry this means it's the wrong fit, because the thick socks are the ones I'd like to be able to use, and I worry I could only wear thin or no socks with the size 8 pair.
 

DorianGreen

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What about that issue when trying them with thick socks? I tried the same pair on with thick socks, and am noticing the right foot is uncomfortably tight now, like my toes feeling cramped. I worry this means it's the wrong fit, because the thick socks are the ones I'd like to be able to use, and I worry I could only wear thin or no socks with the size 8 pair.

Sorry, it's a thing only you can properly evaluate. Of course, if the shoe feels overly too tight, it won't ever feels comfortable. In the case your feet differ noticeably in size, I fear the only option is going bespoke.
 

KOz

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Have a look at loafers that offer a lot of flex, as it helps with heel slippage a lot. Septieme Largeur's Manhattan model is a casual example. C&J's superflex line is also superb.

As for fitting various socks, I don't think it's reasonable to expect a great fit in all cases, ranging from sockless to thick socks. Account for the most likely scenario.

I would recommend not settling for an "okay" fit. Make sure you feel confident and comfortable with the purchase.
 

epsilon22

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You size shoes based on what socks you want to wear with them. If you want to wear thick socks then find something that fits comfortably when wearing thick socks. This would of course mean the shoes will be a touch large when you wear thin socks (or none), but that's a tradeoff you have to make.
 

fpm9

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I only bought two pairs of quality loafers in my life, but both time I got crazy heel slippage when trying on the shoes, even on smaller sizes. However, after a few painful days breaking them in, there was no more slippage. Not sure if you would experience the same thing, but that is what happened to me with loafers.
 

DorianGreen

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I only bought two pairs of quality loafers in my life, but both time I got crazy heel slippage when trying on the shoes, even on smaller sizes. However, after a few painful days breaking them in, there was no more slippage. Not sure if you would experience the same thing, but that is what happened to me with loafers.

Sorry, this sounds pretty odd to me. Also not clear whether you got the smaller size (therefore "painful" break-in?), or it happened with your regular size, even more inexplicable, because as the leather breaks in, the shoe becomes a little roomier (causing intuitively more slippage).
 

fpm9

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Sorry, this sounds pretty odd to me. Also not clear whether you got the smaller size (therefore "painful" break-in?), or it happened with your regular size, even more inexplicable, because as the leather breaks in, the shoe becomes a little roomier (causing intuitively more slippage).

I don't have a lot of experience with shoes, so I may be wrong. I went with the regular size but thought that the leather felt a lot more stiff than other shoes I bought in the past. Now I barely get any heel slipage and the rest of the shoe feels great. I only had this happen with loafers, never had slippage issues or painful break in with other shoes.
 

epsilon22

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I find heel slippage reduced when the soles start to soften and bend more easily. The heel area won't really get roomier with wear due to the stiff heel counters. There's probably a factor of the wearer getting used to a bit of slippage as well (all my shoes have slippage to some extent).

As with @DorianGreen I ended up trying bespoke loafers (coming later this year courtesy of Nicholas Templeman), hopefully that'd finally end my questionable relationship with heel slippage.
 

DorianGreen

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I find heel slippage reduced when the soles start to soften and bend more easily. The heel area won't really get roomier with wear due to the stiff heel counters. There's probably a factor of the wearer getting used to a bit of slippage as well (all my shoes have slippage to some extent).

As with @DorianGreen I ended up trying bespoke loafers (coming later this year courtesy of Nicholas Templeman), hopefully that'd finally end my questionable relationship with heel slippage.

Actually, it makes sense: as the foot eases down in the brand sole (and cork bed), it lies deeper so that it's less prone to slippage.

Took a look, Nicholas Templeman has a variety of awesome styles, I'm really impressed.
 

Son Of Saphir

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There is no rule when fitting loafers.
Some loafers need sizing down whereas others don't.
Some loafers will stretch whereas other don't.
It is like a raffle,
sometimes you get lucky and other times you get shafted.
 

michaelvl

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I agree with what the seller told you. In my experience, a leather shoe will only get looser with wear, so if you start out with a pair that has heal slippage from the start, that shall never resolve, but likely only get worse as the shoe breaks in further. A leather shoe can stretch a lot, especially across the vamp, so as long as the length is correct and does not initially feel constricting, they should break in just fine.

Start with wearing the shoes indoors for say a half an hour. If they hurt your feet then take them off. Build up the wear duration gradually if needed. After subsequent wears the leather will stretch more and more due to the heat and moisture of your feet and the pressure that is exerted on them from you walking around in them. The forefoot section of the sole, at least in most mid/high quality shoes, should contain cork, the purpose of the cork is that said area should mould to your feet.

From what you said, I think you made the right choice by getting the size 8.
 

Alozano

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Thanks for the replies, I ended up returning the pair i got and exchanged them for the 8 1/2, as I realized more and more they felt better, and the 8s were just too uncomfortable for me to stand it. I was going to get shoe trees for these, one thing, Gucci claims their loafers run big and so you have to size down in them, what I am curious about is would a shoe tree that includes a size 8 1/2 work fine for these, or would it be a mismatched size?
 

DorianGreen

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There is no rule when fitting loafers.
Some loafers need sizing down whereas others don't.
Some loafers will stretch whereas other don't.
It is like a raffle,
sometimes you get lucky and other times you get shafted.

That's why you have always to try them on before purchasing. I recently bought a nice pair here in Berlin from KLH (Korbinian Ludwig Hess), thinking I could get used to their tightness and ended up returning them, after having worn them a little at home, becoming aware it couldn't work. As already said, a loafer has to fit perfectly, because if it doesn't, it never will. In my case my usual size caused a massive heel slippage and the next size down, which then I purchased, didn't have this issue, but felt very snug in the toe area. But, of course, you need both, a tight heel and a sufficiently roomy toe box, only provided by a suiting last. So, if the last doesn't suit your foot, you better don't buy. Of course if the fit is quite there, albeit not perfect, you will be able to wear the shoes, which will also become more comfortable with wear, it's a subtle balancing act sometimes.

The loafer I returned.

Screenshot (1403).png
 

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