An Ode to the Loafer

Like black square-frame glasses or a camel coat, they can make you look smarter and richer than you are.
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Like black square-frame glasses or a camel coat, they can make you look smarter and richer than you are.
Image: Chantal Fernandez/Fashionista

Image: Chantal Fernandez/Fashionista

Entry into adulthood happens in fits and starts. As far as I can tell, self-initiated boosts in maturity tend to involve indulging one's bougiest impulses. Spending a Saturday afternoon at the Met. Reallocating the $10 you would typically spend at Chipotle to acquire a small wedge of smelly cheese. Purchasing a pair of loafers.

Loafers evoke Ivy League preppiness. If they're Gucci, they make you look like the heir to a Milanese family fortune. (If they're Gucci's new fur-lined model, you surely work at an international fashion magazine or have a blog.) Dressed in little skirts and cardigans, Alexa Chung takes her loafers in a mod, schoolgirlish direction. Audrey Hepburn wore hers with dark socks and ankle-length slacks; years later, we silently gape at the look's understatement and screen cap it for Instagram. "Goals."

In an essay for Into the Gloss, the writer Alice Gregory argues that a camel coat has the power to make you seem smarter, richer and thinner than you are. While shoes aren't always slimming in the way a good coat can be, the rest is more than true of loafers, too. To maximize your gains in the perceived wealth category, let them get beat up and worn down. Remember, nothing pairs with nice stuff better than flippancy.

But while loafers retain a certain air of elitism (despite their origins in the footwear choices of Norwegian fishermen), shoppers' options in the category have never been more diverse or democratically priced. You want rhinestones? Sure. How about a platform heel and leather with the rainbow sheen of an oil slick? Donezo. These days, you can use loafers to gain entry to the old boy's club, but you don't have to.

Here's 17 for your shopping consideration.