The term of Loafers comes from american culture, at their origin they have a mocassin construction and they were first made in 1930 in Norway, as casual and comfortable shoes. The mocassins began to be exported in the rest of Europe where they also made the first contact with americans, through american tourists visiting Europe.
The Americans embracced the style and took it to the next level. In the mid-1950s, further continental influences brought a more elegant image to light, lower-cut slip-ons, which moved from purely casual use to being paired with suits in the 1960s (but still only in America). In 1966, Italian designer Gucci made the further step of adding a metal strap across the front in the shape of a horse's snaffle bit. These Gucci loafers (now a general term referring to shoes of this style by any manufacturer) also spread over the Atlantic and were worn among by 1970s business men, becoming almost a Wall Street uniform, until reaching widespread use by the 1980s.
As you might have noticed, nowadays women seem to be extremly found of flats: ballerina flats, oxfords, mocassins and loafers too. They give such personality to an outfit and that masculine touch that can spice up a simple and minimalistic look.
I must confess, I was into loafers only judging by their appearence but now I'm much more convinced that I should buy a pair. I'm crazy about the '50s, they were born then!
Here is a selection I made, with loafers that stoled my heart, using polyvore of course.
Hope you enjoyed my post and can inspire you somehow.
Source of research: wikipedia.