I’ve been digging lug-sole loafers for a few years now. I did my first lug-sole-loafer try-on back in 2021 and realized what a cute alternative these shoes are to the sneakers I’m constantly wearing and the boots that are in high rotation too. Lug-sole loafers have that nod to the classic aesthetic I love — but with a chunky, modern sole that adds the edginess I always want in play.
The pair I found in my previous search are still the outfit-making shoes I found them to be back then. But sadly, they aren’t stocked anymore, and I realized they have a slightly smaller profile than I want for 2023. The sole is lugged but not much of a platform, and they aren’t quite as badass as some of the styles I’m seeing right now. So, it’s time for an update!
A Deep Dive In To Lug-Sole Loafers: From Designer To Under $150 (Try-On)
Here’s the breakdown of my search for the best lug-sole loafers this time around. If you want to get right to it and check them out for yourself, I’ve categorized them below. Scroll along after though if you want to see a try-on of each pair, styled up with outfits I’d actually wear with them. Oh, and each pair gets its own close-up moment too, so you can see the lovely details.
- Best Designer Lug-Sole Loafers: Gucci Leather Lug-Sole Horsebit Loafers
- Best Overall – Classic & Versatile Lug-Sole Loafers: Vagabond Kenova Penny Loafers
- Best Mid-Priced Lug-Sole Loafers: Coach Leah Platform Loafers
- Best Lug-Sole Loafers Under $100: Nordstrom Trinity Loafers (similar + these)
- Most Luxe-Looking Lug-Sole Loafers : Madewell Greenwich Hardware Loafers (similar)
- Most Comfortable Lug-Sole Loafers: Gentle Souls Brenda Platform Loafers
- Best Lug-Sole Loafers With A Sporty Vibe: rag & bone Shiloh Loafers
- Best Patent-Leather Lug-Sole Loafers: Franco Sarto Carolynn Tassel Loafers
- Most Funky (In A Good Way) Lug-Sole Loafers: Doc Martens Adrian Loafers
- Least Comfortable Lug-Sole Loafers: Chloé Noua Loafers (or shearling)
My favorite pair of the entire try-on? Probably Vagabond’s Kenova loafers. They’re classic and versatile. But depending on what you’re looking for and your budget, these Gucci loafers could easily be a top contender too. If you can swing the designer price tag, do it. They’re so good, friends.
High-End & Designer Lug-Sole Loafers
Let’s dive in to the pricier options, shall we? These might be just a little (or a lot, ha) out of your budget, but gah, if they aren’t cool.
I mean, why not start with the Gucci loafers, eh? I realize this isn’t going to be the pair most people (including myself) are going to consider as an option, but GOSH, if you can swing it do it. For the details. THE DETAILS.
Style: Super-chunky sole, amazing and beautiful. The bee on the back is what kills me. Definitely the chunkiest/widest toe I tried on, so less of a classic style and more on-trend for sure.
Fit: Kinda hard to get on, so maybe don’t give them a go if you have a high instep. I don’t, and it took some work, but once I had them on… OH MY. Gorgeous on the foot and just incredibly well made, as you would expect. True to size.
I adore Chloé. It’s probably one of my favorite higher-end designers, but these Noua loafers were so disappointing. They’re lovely to look at, but I’m not sure I dig the stitching, especially in person. These are really stiff leather and also hard to get on your foot, like the Gucci pair.
Once these were on though, it wasn’t the same love affair as the pair above. They’re incredibly crafted but just not comfortable at all, IMO. I imagine they would break in with wear, but to me these aren’t worth that effort OR the price point. Sad. But c’est la vie.
Style: Very classic (too classic with the stitching?), beautifully crafted.
Fit: Hard to get on but true to size. Very stiff leather. Not good for high insteps.
Mid-Priced Lug-Sole Loafers
Now, we’re getting into the “more affordable” category. Chunky loafers that aren’t designer but are still solid choices.
These platform Coach loafers are one of my very favorite pairs I tried. I haven’t tried a ton of Coach shoes, but the few pairs I have tried are really lovely. I’m now going to specifically include them in more of my try-ons because I’m so impressed. I hastily returned these (it’s overwhelming when you have so many pairs of shoes in your house, heh), but I think I’ll reorder because I’ve been thinking of them ever since!
Style: A little mod and retro, but subtly so. They also come in brown and black. One of my favorite pairs!
Fit: True to size and very comfy out of the box. Felt great on.
This Kenova style of penny loafers from Vagabond is another top contender in my book, and I still have them in my possession (deciding on which to keep). These do run a little large — Euro sizing, and I’m a true US 8…you may know that issue. I think with a heel grip or socks they would be perfect, but I wish they came in half sizes.
If you like this brand too and want a bit trendier style, the Cosmo loafers get great reviews.
Style: Chunky sole, but really classic penny-loafer upper. Versatile and would be a great investment since they probably won’t go out of style as soon as some of the other shoes.
Fit: Runs a little big, but true Euro sizing (no half sizes). Otherwise really comfortable and well made.
The Madewell Greenwich loafers are $158 at full price but are on sale right now for $119! I wasn’t sure which category to include them in, but these slightly lugged loafers are crafted like a higher-end/mid-priced pair, so here they sit — even tho price-wise they fit in the final category of Under $150.
If you want a black pair with some fab details, these lug-sole loafers are for you. The gold hardware is lovely, and the black crocodile texture adds some cool interest. I’ve always been impressed with the quality of Madewell’s shoes, and these are no exception.
Style: Slightly more classic but have a touch of edgy glam, with the hardware and patent-leather faux croc.
Fit: True to size and quite comfy right out of the box. A really solid choice!
UPDATE: Sold out but the Shiloh loafer is very similar and super comfy.
I adore rag & bone. It’s by far one of my favorite brands, along with AllSaints and Clare V. But these Halona loafers were a little too odd of a combo for me. (Haha, that’s saying a lot.) They look super-cute on, and the sole is fun, but they’re shinier in person than they look online, and I’m not sure whether I love that or not.
The main issue here, though, was the squeak of the sole. I do think it would subside over time, but can I really be sure? It was annoying to walk even from my office to the front mirror, haha. For the price point, I don’t think these are worth it, but they do look cool in pictures!
Style: Kinda funky, kinda sporty, but with patent leather…they’re hard to categorize. I do like the slightly higher heel on these compared with most of the others, but eh. Idk.
Fit: Pretty comfy on the foot and true to size. Wearing a 38.5, my true Euro size.
OK, if you’re looking for comfort, these platform lug-sole loafers are the ones for you. Personally, though, I don’t love that they have a smaller profile than the rest of the loafers I tried. I think they aren’t really quite in the same category of style, but they’re so soft and great on the feet. And this is definitely a versatile color.
Style: Look more like a traditional comfort shoe than the other pairs here. The black pair might read more modern on, but they are low in stock.
Fit: True to size and super-cushiony!
Lug-Sole Loafers Under $150
My favorite category…shoes under $150.
This pair of loafers from Nordstrom’s in-house line was the best surprise! They looked interesting online, but when I opened them up I was unsure if they were totally my style. But then I put them on, and gosh, how cute are they?! They do have a little bit more of a feminine vibe, but I’m loving it.
They come in a few colors and are only $89. These lug-sole loafers are true gems.
Style: Feminine and chic but still with a fairly chunky sole. They also come in black and a blush/peach color.
Fit: True to size and surprisingly comfy out of the box.
Where to buy: at Zappos
Fellow Doc Marten fans, these Adrian loafers are so fun. They definitely have a true vibe — as all Docs do — but I love them. If I needed even more white loafers in my closet, I would’ve kept these, but alas, I don’t wear loafers quite often enough to warrant multiple pairs of the same color.
These do run a little large, so size down if you plan to wear them without socks. These too were a little tricky to get on at first, but they’re created like all the other Docs I’ve had: really solid construction and a heavy sole.
Style: Very Doc Marten, funky-fun-slightly-punk. They have an old-man vibe/thrift-shop-purchase thing I really like.
Fit: Run slightly big and a little bit tricky to get on, but once they’re on, they’re Docs. And if you know them, you love them.
Where to buy: at Nordstrom
Last, but definitely not least, are this pair I already owned from Franco Sarto. These are super-cute if you want a patent-leather pair. They have adorable tassels too, and the shine is fun to add just a bit of glam to your outfits. Scotti has this pair in a really pretty navy.
Style: A nice smaller-profile upper but chunky sole — this combo is great and easily wearable IMO. The patent leather is a fun, sorta-glam-ish option when it comes to loafers.
Fit: These fit slightly smaller. I find patent leather has to really be worn a lot to break in a bunch or loosen up more, so I’d size up half a size — especially if you’re between sizes or plan to wear with socks.
Bonus Pair: Donald Pliner Hillie Mule Loafers
This Donald Pliner pair looks SO good online. They’re the only mule style I tried, so I included them as a bonus pair for that reason. (Plus, 10 is just such a nice round number for a title.) The other reason these are the “bonus” pair, though, is that…they do not stay on your feet. BOO.
I was so stoked to get these cuties, and they LOOK so cute, but you just can’t walk in them anywhere. They don’t come back on your foot enough, and the tongue that comes out past the rest of the upper just doesn’t provide stay-on power. They aren’t very well stocked, either, so I guess it’s OK for everyone reading that I’m not giving them a glowing review. I was just so hopeful for these!
How I’d Wear Socks + Loafers (Maybe)
I wanted to include a couple of pics of some sock combos I tried here, just to give a tiny bit of an idea of how two of my favorite pairs might look with socks. I realized I don’t have quite the perfect socks to go with them, but while I thought I was vehemently against this trend…ehh, I kinda like it!
What I AM vehemently against for myself (other peeps, you rock it) is the bright white socks with black loafers. I just can’t. Too many years wearing that as a costume for school and church ’50s events, I think. But also, that’s a tricky thing to pull off when you’re shorter. It really cuts the line of the leg, so darker socks with darker loafers, light socks with light loafers it is.
I’m kinda smirking, but actually I like this. I mean, you can’t really go wrong with lightning-bolt socks. I think I just need a different top or sweater here to blend better with the whiter shoes.
This look below, on the other hand, is just too “Billie Jean” for me. I think perhaps with the olive blazer and slightly different dark socks, though, this would work too!
As always, I hope this try-on session has been helpful! But as for myself, well I’ve properly confused…myself. Haha. There are some really great lug-sole loafers to choose from right now. I feel like there must’ve been a restock or release of new styles in just the past month or so, because this past fall, I couldn’t find a ton to review.
I’d imagine it’s the promise of spring coming that has provided this plethora of options for us now! Hooray! Lug-sole loafers are one of my favorite spring styles to wear to finish off my outfits.
Also, as always, let me know if there’s a pair of lug-sole loafers that you adore that I missed this time around.
Want to keep up with everything else I’m into? Pop over to my Instagram @laurajansenstyle where I love talking about food, sharing OOTDs, posting travel pics and chatting everyday mom-life-stuff from Portland, Oregon. Oh, and lots of sarcastic memes and cute pet videos because what is social media without plenty of those. xoxo