If you would have told me a few years ago that the shoe I’d wearing most often in the fall of 2022 would be the chunky lug sole loafer, I would have laughed you out of your chair. Years ago, I was like a Texas Ranger, hired to drive Herman Munster-looking shoes out of women’s closets, and when they made comeback around 2011 it was almost personal for me. I felt an anger that was as similar as if I had just finished a successful, yet backbreaking eradication of moths only to find one flying around my knits the next day. But if you remember those icky, yucky, pedestrian-looking sensible clodhoppers that I’m talking about — if not you can read my rage-y post here — I think you’ll agree, what I’m talking about today isn’t even in the galaxy of being the same. However, it doesn’t mean I didn’t find myself surprised when I was wooed by a pair of lug sole loafers this fall.
This is the cyclical nature of fashion and how after time passes, we find a trend appealing to us again. It’s no different than how we vow we will never drink after a boozy night out only to find ourselves saying the same thing months or even weeks later. With enough time, humans have an unbelievable ability to forget their feelings from an experience. How else can we explain why we’re all considering bootcut jeans again despite the fact that we can all also remember what a pain it was to deal with draggy hems and different heel heights? Despite the fact that in my 20’s and it was the ’90s and I was hard-pressed not to find something in my closet that didn’t have a lug sole, and the fact that I usually assume if I wore a trend once I don’t usually cycle it back again, I found myself really feeling this one. With the M.Gemi sale on earlier this year, their Elsa loafer in olive, which is, sadly, sold out now, went into my shopping cart and now lives in my closet. The only thing that surprised me more than the fact that I loved these loafers has been how much I have worn them.
I’m not going to lie, what initially got them on my feet in heavy rotation was my plantar fasciitis flare-up which if you haven’t had it, is a freaking nightmare. It’s painful for everyone but the equivalent of a flat tire if you live in a walking city. Normally, I deal with some pain, I do what I have to do and it goes away. This time, I just couldn’t get it to subside, and I’m still dealing with it despite two podiatrist visits, a cortisone shot, ice, stretching, and more. It will eventually subside but while my foot is in pain, I need to wear shoes that aren’t completely flat and I need to wear shoes that won’t slap the pavement without some shock absorption. My M.Gemi Elsas has provided both. Do I feel cured when I wear them? No, but that’s because I don’t think there is a shoe on the planet that does that when you are in the middle of a bad flare-up. I don’t care what anyone tells you. But I was able to sightsee through Boston, walking nine miles one day and six the next, trading between these loafers and my Taos Plim Soul sneakers, which are designed for feet with issues. In my book, I’d say that’s pretty darn good.
HOW TO WEAR LUG SOLE LOAFERS
Yet, the question really becomes, how exactly do you wear lug sole loafers because, to me, the look is very specific. You can’t throw on a pair of loafers with any old thing and expect it to work which, when you think about it, is really true for just about anything in your wardrobe. With lug sole loafers you want to create a look, you don’t just want to throw these shoes on because they are big, they are chunky, and with the wrong pants you could stand out like a black sheep in a field of white ones. So I’m going to kick it old school below, and share some looks I’ve put together (when was the last time I did a post like this, y’all?)— and give you some tips and show you some looks using lug sole loafers.
HERE ARE SOME OF MY RECENT LOOKS
Before we get into some outfit ideas, here are some looks I’ve been wearing with my lug sole loafers. I don’t have photos of everything and clearly, I need a new mirror. I adjusted the photos to try to make them more visible. My mirror doesn’t need to be cleaned, it’s just old and needs to be replaced. I never noticed it until I started snapping photos of myself in it. I put together some of the other looks below.
Many of these pieces are resale but what I can share with you: In look #1- The Stella McCartney blazer, Lafayette 148 top and Everlane bag is resale or old and not available except for the jeans which are from J.Crew. In look #2, the Vince cashmere is resale but the J.Crew jeans are available and my favorites. Look #3, the shirt is the Frank & Eileen, Joedy, the jeans are the same pair as in look #2, the belt is from J.Crew, and the bag is resale Tods. Look #4 is resale Akris and Vince. Look #5 is resale Rag & Bone with a J.Crew tee, jeans, and the resale Tods bag. Look #6 is a Quince v-neck cashmere sweater in Spicy Mustard, my J.Crew favorite jeans and a very old Ines de la Fressange for Uniqlo crossbody in teal. Look #7 is the fabulous Oversize Cotton Cardigan from Quince in grey, their Cashmere Crew, the J.Crew jeans, their cognac belt, and the old Everlane bag.
ONTO THE LUG SOLE LOAFER LOOKS
In this first look, I am styling the Elsa loafers in navy with a dress because I have certainly shown you enough looks styled with jeans and I am sure there is a question out there if lug sole loafers can be worn with dresses. The answer is yet, but. Yes, but while you can wear them with dresses not all dresses will work. You want to think of your look cohesively and don’t want to style this type of loafer with any old dress. I get it, you find your lug sole loafers super comfortable and want to wear them with everything, but resist the urge. This is a super stylized shoe, so think cohesively and stylistically. I don’t see wearing a lug sole loafer with a delicate dress, a super feminine look, a cute fit-and-flare dress, or a style that doesn’t have a modern, urban, avant-garde, or preppier feel. Your dresses shouldn’t be fussy, frilly, overly complicated, super tricked out, embellished, or distracting. You want the rest of the look to be pretty minimal. Keep it clean.
If you have plantar fasciitis, you know Vionic is one of the best brands out there for shoes. I was eyeing their loafer styles and had to use this bone-colored pair. I hesitated at first, wondering if they might be too light as we head into the colder months but realized there are lots of people who live in climates where it will stay temperate and who will want to lean into the fall weather, and who also won’t need to dress as heavily. For them, a lightweight jacket, maybe a scarf, and a few sweaters will suffice. Plus, for those of us in the colder climates, we do need something to wear with the winter white we all hope to one day wear.
A slim-leg ankle pant is another style that works well with a lug sole loafer and is a great way to give them an update. It’s also a great style to consider if you are bottom-heavy. Women who collect weight in the hips and thighs and who wear slim, delicate flats can feel like bowling pins when they see themselves in photos wearing skinny-leg pants that taper at the ankles because of the shape it creates. The stronger shape of the lug sole creates a bit more counterbalance that won’t bring the eye to such a point. It’s great for women who have large hips and thighs, very large ankles and calves, and very small feet. Believe me, ladies, I see you, I feel you.
I styled this outfit with a chestnut v-neck sweater from Naadam, slim olive pants from M.M. Lafleur, and a gorgeous printed scarf from Poetry. Pulling the soft blue from the print of the scarf, I added the lightweight boiled wool jacket from J.Crew. A look like this is perfect for someone who needs to layer and unlayer in an area that doesn’t get too cold.
I have this fisherman style from Quince and it is in heavy rotation. One day, I got inspired to throw a button-down shirt underneath it, I popped the collar and it became a favorite look of mine. While wearing a button-down shirt with this sweater isn’t required to make it look super-good, I wore it yesterday sans-shirt in the photo above, it’s roomy enough that you won’t feel all confined when you do. I styled this look with a Frank and Eileen’s button-down layered underneath the sweater, added a pair of ankle-length jeans from Paige, and these Donald Pliner lug sole loafers in red for a pop. I have the Sacca Donna loafers from M.Gemi in red and while no lug soles, I have enjoyed wearing them when I want that punch of color.
Now the big question is, what about socks? So, socks and I aren’t friends. I will hold out wearing them until the last possible moment. Cold ankles don’t bother me, yet I know I am an outlier, so to answer your question, yes, you can wear socks with lug sole loafers. In fact, the issue isn’t so much wearing socks, it’s the pants you wear with the socks.
So, pants with chunky loafers. You don’t want your pants to be too short when wearing socks. Ankle length can be okay as long as they aren’t too cropped because then it just looks weird. You do not want to go above your ankle bone. However, if you go too long and have too much spill and break in your pants, the only thing that will be visible will be the toes of your loafers which may look a bit like a garden gnome.
Where you could go longer would be purposeful. A look in this vein works, which I styled with a pair of black pleated wide-leg pants, a slim knit collard sweater, and spectator lug sole loafers from Cole Haan. I added a complimentary pair of socks from Hot Sox and simple earrings from Julie Vos. It’s a tailored, almost retro-40’s, menswear-inspired look. This goes back to my point about being purposeful about how you style your lug sole loafers so they make sense in your looks. Sure you could just throw them on with any old look, but the loafers wouldn’t have the same impact.
Another way to incorporate socks is to style them with slim straight jeans that aren’t so short. This pair from AG isn’t so short that they will look like ridiculous floods with socks but aren’t so long these loafers from Madewell will get lost and where the toes will look clunky and gnome-y. Basically, if your pants have any break at all, you have to have the slightest of one. A break is a crease that forms at the hem when the pants drape over your instep. Ankle pants never have a break, wider pants do. Straight-leg pants can have a break and the break amount can vary. The longer pants are, the larger the break will be. I created this outfit with this Veronica Beard blazer and added this simple grey cashmere crew sweater, grey cashmere socks, and chunky hoops.
While they can be specific in look, there are plenty of ways to wear lug sole loafers. They’re comfortable and trending. Have some fun this fall while being comfortable and get your clunk on with your lug sole loafers.