THE ICONS

THE LOAFERS

We’ve all been doing a lot more loafing around this past year, but writer and broadcaster — to name but a few of her talents — Camille Charriere is taking it one very literal step further. She’s living out the full rom-com fantasy, ever-so-practical loafers and all…

Wedding pictures
Blue cashmere sweater

Everyone keeps promising that the pandemic will revolutionize the way we dress, just like it did after the World Wars. Now, I’m all for a good shake up — there’s nothing like a tidal wave of subversive fashion trends to ruffle feathers and alter the status quo (see: Gen Z reclaiming the bimbo stereotype as a transgressive feminist figure). We are to have another roaring twenties, or so they say; which is swell and all that jazz. But, while I wait for the kettle to boil and the world to reopen, allow me to make a case for the not-at-all-revolutionary loafer.

Dependable, classic and decidedly unchallenging, these are the somewhat unsexy attributes that make loafers so appealing. And right now, that is all that matters. The lure of a future in which we will all be prancing around in extravagant partywear and our highest heels purely because we can sounds appealing, but right now, what I need is to cure my sweatpants fatigue. And believe it or not, it's the dowdy and reliable penny loafer that has come to the rescue.

Like with all great love stories, ours started with a meet cute. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks hovering over the caviar garnish in You’ve Got Mail, to be specific. I don’t know about you, but since the beginning of lockdown, I have found real solace in re-watching old rom-coms when in need of a pick-me-up. A dose of nostalgia has provided a particularly potent antidote to all the uncertainty in the air. My partner finds this incredibly frustrating. An avid cinephile, he can’t understand why I'm not using this time to explore new horizons (by way of our flatscreen). But it is precisely because I can rely on Shopgirl and Joe Fox falling for one another that I keep coming back, knowing that the plot will always end with a passionate embrace in the park. The one thing I had forgotten however, is just how good Meg looks in a loafer. That’s when it dawned on me: what the world needs right now is more spoilers — it's the not knowing that has us all over the shop.

Blue cashmere sweater

Enter: friction-free footwear. The laceless loafer has been around since, well, not quite the dawn of time, but long enough that it qualifies as a key wardrobe staple. I won’t bore you with a chronicle of its origins beyond its date of birth (1930), because who has time for another at-home history lesson? All you need to know is that the loafer will never betray you by going out of fashion (unlike most shoe shapes).

The next morning, I reached for a classic pair of slip-ons that had been gathering dust in the trenches of my closet. I tuck my jeans into my cashmere socks (a styling trick that has been circulating on the gram), bundle up in my warmest coat, before running downstairs to get my latte — I haven’t taken them off since. And it’s easy to penny-point why (excuse the pun): loafers offer all the comfort of a flat shoe, whilst giving the illusion of a more polished look. A loafer is a glorified slipper in all but name. More elevated than a sneaker, and easier to pop on and off than a boot. They're suitable to wear indoors (essential these days) but won’t weaken your step count if you need to run out for an errand, as demonstrated by Hailey Bieber and Katie Holmes who love a power walk round the block in theirs. Cardi B even once wore a pair while out and about in just a bathrobe. This may have been pre-pandemic, but the sentiment remains the same: loafers are surprisingly straightforward to style. Everything works, from your preferred denim fit, to simple tailored pants, black leggings, opaque tights to bare legs, fun socks to sassy stockings — you name it, the penny loafer just works.

I've started to think of the loafer as the spoiler alert to a great silhouette. A fuss-free start to the day, that one can always rely on —a guaranteed happy ending.