A loafer is any shoe without lace over a tongue, like the Oxford or derby. It’s a slip-on shoe that often comes with a tassel, mask, bit, or accessories to replace lacing. It is another staple of the classic gentleman.

Loafers are lightweight footwear due to their thin soles compared to an oxford. They appear to have a cleaner front as they’re made without lace and have tabs that contain eyelets covering the tongue. The elegance of a loafer is determined by the low-level and light sole, as well as the perfect material without blemish.

No matter your profession or style, there’s a good chance that you keep a brown loafer much closer than your oxfords on the weekends. While a pair of oxfords can stand almost any dress occasion, you can’t go wrong with a solid dark brown loafer for your first dress shoe. They’re the most practical all-around shoes you can buy. They go well with your navy suit,  jeans, or colored chinos.

When trying on and wearing a loafer, always use a shoehorn. Understand that if it’s made of calf leather, it will stretch over time. It’ll be much safer to start with a tight fit.

If you must purchase a dress shoe for the first time but are unsure what to start with, you can’t go wrong with a dark brown, low-cut, leather-sole loafer. It’s the most versatile shoe you can buy, not to mention elegant. Invest in ankle socks and socks that look almost like (if not the same) the color of the loafer, including plain without patterns. Alternatively, use a sock to match the exact color of the trousers. Loafers are cut to expose the skin around your ankle—a signature of the Italian gentleman (the inventor of loafers). The less you show, the more elegant you look. So, keeping it simple will create that same effect as though you were not wearing socks.

Please don’t confuse it with a slipper or slip-on.