You’ve seen Venetians a million and one times, you’ve just never known the name.
“Venetian” as it relates to footwear is simply any unadorned loafer; specifically, the upper is constructed like a moccasin. We’re including both true moccasin style shoes (no separate sole, like a driver) and shoes with soles and heels (true loafers) when we talk about Venetians.
But still, there’s no penny keeper. No pinking, perforations, or medallions. No wingtip details. Just some leather, some stitching, and your foot.
That’s it. Moving on.
Why Are They Called Venetians?
This is actually a pretty difficult question to answer, as there’s relatively little research on the subject. The best of our knowledge tells us that the term came from Great Britain, ironically. Perhaps a member of the British landed gentry was in Venice a couple hundred years ago, saw the locals wearing snazzy loafers, bought a pair, and returned to England with them. Maybe they then became the talk of the town and became known as “Venetians” due to their region of origin.
It may or may not be true, but it sounds plausible, right? Seriously, if you have any verifiable information on this, we’d love to hear from you!
How To Wear Venetian Loafers
Simplicity is often tied up with versatility, and the beauty of the Venetian is that it’s really as simple as it gets when it comes to shoe design. These loafers are also made in any color and material you can think of, and they can be purchased ready-to-wear or custom made.
As their Italian-derived name would suggest, they tend to be pretty slim in their proportions. We don’t often see double soles, chunky heels, or lugs soles on Venetians. Keep that in mind when wearing these. It’s one thing to through on a pair with some grey flannels and a blue blazer, but quite another to try it with a three-piece English country suit.
Moccasins Versus Loafers
Though we use the term “loafer”to refer to any shoe that doesn’t require laces or buckles to fasten, we should mention that Venetians are available in both moccasin and loafer construction. The former is like a driving shoe (no separate sole), whereas the latter has a separate sole and heel and is thus dressier.
The defining point of a Venetian is that its upper is unadorned.
Venetians aren’t necessarily dress shoes, but they can be dressy. Depending on the color and material, they can work with anything from denim to suits, though we suggest that you be judicious about pairing with suits. If the suit is a bit less business-y, go for it. If you’re attending a board meeting, opt for oxfords.
Black patent leather Venetians are one of the acceptable shoe styles for black-tie attire, too. Make sure that any stitching is ultra-clean and that they’re kept in good condition and you’ll look positively James Bond-esque in them.
- Suede Venetians in any color: jeans, casual trousers, casual suits or odd jackets & trousers
- Brown or black leather Venetians: jeans, casual trousers, odd jackets & trousers, suits
- Black patent leather Venetian loafers: Tuxedo (black-tie)
Being a low-cut loafer, these work particularly well in warmer months. With that said, you can easily throw these on in fall and winter and still look like a million bucks. Below, we offer some suggested colors and materials based on season.
- Spring: Tan, light brown, or British tan leather or suede
- Summer: White, off-white, or sand suede or leather
- Autumn: Burgundy, black, or brown cordovan or pebbled leather
- Winter: Black or chocolate suede
Common Fit Issues
Some Venetian loafers are made very simply; that is, without gore, elastic, or any other stretchy material to allow room for give. If you’re a man who has a high instep, a Venetian may not be your best option if it’s made without the ability to stretch.
On the other hand, if there’s stretchy material at the plug (where the top piece is sewn to the sides), you should be just fine.
Buying Venetians: Who Makes The Best
Venetians are available from a wide range of makers at a wide range of price points. Here are a few that we feel do a particularly good job.
Do I Need To Own Venetian Style Loafers?
Well, you don’t need to. But we strongly believe that you should.
As we start to build our shoe wardrobes, our focus should be on versatility. You need to buy shoes that can give you lots of mileage, as that will stretch your dollars (or pounds, euros, yen, or whatever) as far as they can go. Venetians can be worn in such a wide array of situations that no man’s casual wardrobe is complete without a pair or two.