Difference Between Loafers, Moccasins & Boat Shoes & Their Use

Loafers, moccasins and boat shoes can be a confusing trio because of the subtle but easy to spot differences between these styles. Clearly, they have some underlying similarities in their design but there are a few things that helps them in distinguishing one from the other. Always a stylish choice and a sign of a man willing to try different looks, let’s understand the difference between loafers, moccasins and boat shoes.

Talking of the similarities first, they are all low ankle shoes and come with a stitched seam on the top. None of them are meant to be worn in the strict professional sense or to replace the sneakers (only boat shoes can do that on some occasions), however they fit the bill for everything else in between. (If you’re on a budget or minimalism is your choice, read about the only four shoes a man needs to own to sail through all occasions.)



    1. It is defined as a heelless shoe of soft leather and though originally it was meant to be made of single material today majority will have a separate rubber or leather sole. Talking of their sole, the ones with large rubber elements are usually more durable than the others since after they wear out it is hard to get the sole replaced without compromising with the looks. And if you walk in them, they will wear out quite fast, depending on how many rubber knobs have been provided at the bottom.

      tods moccasins vs loafers
      The famous Tod’s moccasins feature a pebbled sole with rubber knobs and are great for driving but due to the limited repair capabilities of a moccasin they may not be well worth the high price tag for everyone.
    2. Moccasins have a U-shaped stitched seam on top and may or may not have decorative laces.

      moccasins vs loafers
      A stitched U-shaped seam on top and no separate sole on a moccasin
    3. Because of no separate hard sole and a single material construction, they are soft, usually have no toe and heel support and not too great for walking.
    4. Moccasins have a slightly lose fitting. Their overall comfort and soft construction is a reason why moccasins are mainly known as driving shoes or home shoes.

So, the bottomline is that moccasins are a great comfort shoe and something that is a good choice for leisure events. But if you are trying to be minimal about the number of shoes you want to own or are building up your wardrobe gradually, then moccasins shouldn’t be the first choice.


    1. Loafers are designed like moccasins but they have a separate sole and a low heel, both of which are absent in the moccasins.

      penny loafer vs moccasins
      A Penny Loafer with a stitched seam on top and a separate sole
    2. Loafers also have a stitched seam on top like moccasins (the ones without the seam are simply called slippers and not loafers).

      loafers vs slippers
      Shoes that look like loafers but do not have a stitched seam on top are simply called Slippers
    3. Loafers will never have laces, they expose the ankle and are meant to be worn with socks. If you don’t like that look you can go for no-show socks, but because of their fitted constructions and material socks should ideally be worn.
    4. Loafers can be worn on after-hours professional events, but are not full on office shoes. They are also a good candidate for a date night.
    5. Loafers are of four types – Penny/Weejuns (shown above), Tassle, Gucci/Horsebit, and Belgian as shown below. All styles have different history and look great!
      gucci loafers vs moccasins
      Gucci loafers with a horsebit buckle
      belgian loafer vs moccasins
      Belgian Loafer with a bow on top

      tassle loafer vs moccasins
      Tassle Loafer with tassles
    6. While Penny and Gucci loafers are good for an old-school gentleman look, Belgian and Tassle loafers are a stylish pick.

    1. Hailing from the legacy of seamen, boat shoes have a good grip, are meant to be worn without socks, go well with shorts and is the most casual looking type of shoe of the three.
    2. They have upper seam like a moccasin, but they come in both leather and canvas material and have a lace going around the shoe for a snug fit that makes them easy to distinguish.
    3. Keeping up with their original use, a good quality boat shoes will be water repellent and come in a non-skid patterned sole.
    4. This is a great shoe to have for the summer and a brown boat shoe is the most versatile color of all. A white rubber sole is the classic design though they come in many fun colors now.

boat shoes style

As a final suggestion, if you go out for casual outings a lot with friends and family then probably boat shoes is a good buy and if you are a professional interested in having a good semi-formal shoe then go for loafers. But, all three are great casual dress shoes, and people can always break rules if that’s what their personal style demands.


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