All Smiles: The Bit Loafer

The Bit Loafer.  Back in 1953, Gucci decided to adorn their loafers with a horse bit and the preppy universe ate it up like T-bone night at the Wagon Wheel Dinner Buffet.  Being that the style was preferred by elites (who wouldn’t be caught dead eating T-bones, or anything from the Wagon Wheel restaurant), it trickled down to the masses in Kardashian fashion.

Bit loafers are still popular today, in both black leather, the more formal choice, and the more recent brown leather option.  We’ll touch on the former in a later post, and focus on the later now: brown leather options.  For those that own bit loafers (actual loafers – not the drivers), you know what we’re saying.  If you haven’t pulled the trigger, keep this in mind: bit loafers are the type of shoes that you may hesitate buying, you’ll be glad you did.

Bit loafers are a step up from the typical penny loafers or beef-roll loafers.  They are considered ‘dress’ loafers, so these loafers should always be kept clean and polished.  These are versatile shoes, being very wearable with a suit, with wool pants, well-tailored chinos, and jeans.  The key is that the pants need not be longer than a slight break.  If the pants are too long, then the loafers get lost in the proverbial shuffle.  Socks are optional, as is the case with most footwear.  Cedar shoe trees are not optional – they are a must.  Also, the vamp should be a little higher.  Gucci did that right, as it gives the loafers a buttoned-up look.  That’s what it’s all about.

There are quite a few options in various price points.  Let’s go over a half-dozen recommended bit loafer options:

Gucci ($$$):  Essentially the mothership of bit loafers.  Outstanding look from the tried and true founder of the look.  Definitely an investment, but one that should pay off in the long run.


Alden ($$):  A part of the Cape Cod collection, these are made in America.  The Alden name speaks for itself.  These will last as long as you’ll let them.


Ferragamo ($$$):  These may lean ‘flashy’, but I think they deserve to be included.  I’ve tried these on and almost pulled the trigger…  The non-strap-under-the-bit look is sharp.


Cole Haan ($):  The most friendly price point, and a smart look.  The natural sole gives these a more casual look, so I would recommend darkening when you polish.


Allen Edmonds ($$):  Allen Edmonds have to be included.  Full disclosure: I have these in black and love them.  For those of you that are into the silver bit, these are for you.


Oak Street Bootmakers ($$):  Another American-made option from the Windy City.  These hit on all the right notes.  They are made with Chromexcel leather, so they will shine very well, and last forever.

While all of these are outstanding options, for my money, I recommend the Oak Street Bootmakers bit loafer option.  The value proposition is right on.  For those in Atlanta, head over to Thomas Wages to try them on for yourself.  I put in an order for a pair of these Oak Street’s today, and I’m looking forward to posting a full review once they arrive.



  1. NEG
    08/02/2016 / 10:06 AM

    Ordered a pair of the Oak Street’s on Monday as well. Value Prop is just too good, can’t pass up.

  2. chaz
    08/02/2016 / 3:05 PM

    Anyone know when Gucci is coming out with new Horsebit Grained-Leather Loafers? They’re sold out everywhere.

  3. cam
    08/02/2016 / 3:37 PM

    am i the only one who does not like the shape of the 1953 Gucci loafers compared to their prior shape? they are a bit wide for me personally. gucci still offers the black with red and green web but not in brown with the web detail. im curious as to why…

  4. Topsider
    08/02/2016 / 4:55 PM

    The Dexter 1957 Gilford is another good option, but it appears they’ve been discontinued. You may still be able to pick them up at a discount online. They’re essentially the same shoe as the Alden Cape Cod bit loafer.

  5. Ryan
    08/03/2016 / 9:15 AM

    I pulled the trigger on a pair at the Gucci Museum in Florence. I’d been wanting to upgrade from my Cole Haans for a while and they do a gold/silver bit combo that I think looks kind of cool. Was told by the sales associate they were only available like that at the museum, no idea if that is true or not. They were also slightly less expensive than buying state side when you factored in the VAT refund.

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