The Secret Life Of Loafers


I’d like to pick a bone with Pat Benatar. I’d argue that work is more of a battleground than love, and, as a result, more apt to require armor. Down to one’s toes. In my corporate heyday, loafers always served as the modern equivalent of a sabaton. Whenever I heard the distant rattling of sabres, I’d pull my black Ferragamos out of the closet and shoe myself for war.

I was therefore somewhat surprised at the comments to my previous post on What To Wear To Dinner After Work In Manhattan. It appears that others do not wave the loafer banner as enthusiastically as I.

I ask the Privilege[d] this question. Do you believe women must wear heels to indicate formality? Seems unfair, if so, and problematic. I for one do not stand so strongly on the ground, in heels. When a vivid imagination lifts one often off the ground, an extra inch of air under the soles supports neither productivity nor authority.

Perhaps this is my issue only? Perhaps heels give you courage? I welcome those stories.

In any case, I do not believe I am alone in flat shoe reliance. Witness Joyce Lau’s post on women CEOs of the world. Look at her analysis of how these women dress. Despite long-running currents of change, the pool at the top of the corporate power stream* is still populated mostly by boy fish. Boy fish wear boy clothes. Loafers seem a fairly easy adaptive behavior to concede, compared to childcare, compassionate discourse, and sports metaphors at sales meetings.

So suspend disbelief, just for the next couple of minutes, and let’s review a few loafer options.

How Corporate Women Can Wear Loafers with Style

The secret to wearing loafers with style is this: because they are a strongly-typed icon, meaning, they scream “Classic! Conservative! Toe-ing the line!” you always want to introduce a little tension. A little oxymoronic dissonance. For example.

1. If you work in traditional industry, and only own one pair of loafers, this should be it. Based on the men’s shoe Platonic ideal, but with rounded shape, a soft texture, and tied bow detail. This is the simplest of tensions – a loafer that is both clearly for women and obviously menswear-based.

2. Other options? Although this might surprise you, don’t go any higher up the menswear chain. This brown Barga below is for Sturdy Gals taking a day in town with their corduroy slacks and quilted vest. Or for Artsy Cousins, ironically, with a vintage skirt or skinny jeans. Blocky, traditional, luxurious. Not for the office. No tension in that choice.
loafers from Beren Shoes But loafers galore are out there, on beyond black, on beyond suit shodding.

3. Behold a navy pair to wear for casual Friday with jeans. Bring a little Dean Martin panache to your product meetins. Navy plus crocodile = preppy Italian. The engineers won’t quite know what to say. The web designer will become your new best friend.Loafers from Berens Shoes
4. Or consider celadon suede. I once had a suit just this color, and could never find the right shoes for it. Sometimes matching is the right strategy. The choice of celadon goes against common wisdom just enough that the most subversive shoe choice is to echo. Reinforce your strategy, as it were.Loafers from Beren Shoes
5. Orange suede, worn with navy blue trousers and a white blouse. My daughter has a similar pair we bought when she first started working. Here it’s the colors, orange and navy, that introduce tension. Just don’t wear these with black. But you wouldn’t do that. I know you wouldn’t..Loafers from Beren Shoes
6. Finally, taupe, on sale, if you are a size 10. These should be worn with jeans. Or, if you’re in a creative field, head-to-toe-taupe, and fur, to take you all the way to Versace-land. You are playing with the shoes’ suburban iconography. Play to win.Loafers from Beren Shoes

What to wear in the corporate world is a battle won or lost in the details. It helps to know where you plan to take your stand, and in whose shoes.

Note: I’m mixing metaphors here. Are we fishing or are we fighting? Testosterone does that to me. I apologize. At least I avoided talk of stadiums.

Images all via Beren Shoes

Black Thierry Rabotin
Brown Barga
Navy Amalfi
Celadon Fiorentina
Orange Stuart Weitzman
Taupe Amalfi

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66 Comments

  • 01/06/11
    7:52 am

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    Genuine Lustre said...

    I’ve been out of the work world for years, but will never erase the memory of my black Bass penny loafers. As a girl reporter, I wore them with my trench coat as I hoofed around town. With my narrow heel, they were so unsatisfactory. As I walked, my socks would inch down farther and father until I was barefoot except for the sock bunched around my toes. Have since learned life is too short to wear ill fitting shoes. : )

  • 01/06/11
    7:56 am

    Reply

    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    I am in the flat camp too….
    not a corporate gal like you either.
    These shoes might be the equivalent of the MOTU suit…

    For me it’s about comfort and balance
    kitten heels are the highest I will wear.

    I own RL black penny loafers…(sans pennies)

    The taupe Amalfi’s would be perfect with my Simon Chang jacket!
    I wear a 7 not a 10

    If we were fishing mightn’t we be wearing hip waders?

  • 01/06/11
    7:57 am

    Reply

    Tabitha said...

    I like Tod’sloafers but only the delicate suede ones , I find the others a tad too sensible, I’d probably stick with ballerinas as my flat shoe option

  • 01/06/11
    8:01 am

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    quintessence said...

    I worked in a corporate art department so the rules were of course different – we usually set our own fashion rules and everyone expected us to – but a loafer with the right outfit was always appropriate to wear for that classic uptown/downtown look. I still have a couple pairs that I wear with straight leg jeans etc. Like your suggestions for those who still need to present themselves properly in a corporate setting.

  • 01/06/11
    8:02 am

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    Jan said...

    I once loved heels – if they didn’t give me courage, they gave me a great deal of pleasure, at least aesthetically; I have small, high-arched, slim feet and shoes have been the one article of clothing I’ve always been able to purchase outside of the “missus” or “plus size” department. I also have nice legs, for a Sturdy, Rubenesque Gal, and heels showed them off well.

    These days, though, my feet don’t do well with a heel over an inch, and even to much time wearing short heels leaves my feet crampy for hours afterward. I now do dressy flats, most likely with bows on the toes.

    BTW, I like those orange suede loafers a great deal – I just wish they weren’t orange.

  • 01/06/11
    8:10 am

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    Carole said...

    Love these loafers, and now I’m jumping back on the bandwagon. Retired now, but recall a pair similar to the Amalfi’s that I used to wear. One of my employees dubbed them my “kick a–” shoes. Coincidence? Maybe not.

  • 01/06/11
    8:21 am

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    JulieTTE said...

    Well, I work in corporate and no, NO, loafers here. Not for me. I have also small, high-arched feet and unfortunately short and “kind of” thick legs… So loafers which come high on the feet are the worst shoes I can ever wear. Because I also happen to wear yes, dresses! I wear high-heeled shoes without any qualms and anybody that would comment or try to comment on how unconfortable/etc. get the same response; disbelieving/”you wouldn’t know don’t you” stare (if this make sense ;-)

  • 01/06/11
    8:26 am

    Reply

    Southern Living: Preppy Style said...

    I have hip issues, so cannot wear heels and when I do, I regret it (yes, I am young, the issues come from years of swimming in school). Therefore, I love flats and loafers and wear many with my work suits and jackets. My favorite are a winter pair, black velvet with gold embroidery for a little zing and they are very loafer-esque. I think what people missed in the first post is that a loafer can come in many colors and varieties. I vividly remember my “penny” loafers I wore with my private school uniform and I believe we all still looked very “girly.” I love the orange and nude choices you made.

    I have not been blogging as often lately, so I did miss the first post and went back and read it. Maybe it’s the South Florida business world in which I find myself. I find it very relaxed and casual compared to what I grew up with up north. Sometimes I feel overdressed for a meeting, even though I wouldn’t call a jacket and suit “formal.” In a heavily male dominated field, I am in a suit and my counterparts are in khakis, a belt with embroidered fish, Sperry’s with no socks and a polo shirt. I have transitioned to more long pencil or suit skirts with button downs, pearls and flats and I fit in a little better in those crowds.

    Long -winded, I know! Great post!

  • 01/06/11
    8:26 am

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    Stephanie said...

    I tend towards loafers with a bit of a heel, or heels that look like loafers. But I adore a good comfortable flat.

  • 01/06/11
    8:34 am

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    Jen said...

    I’m wearing loafers at the office this very minute! They’re comfortable, look great and I don’t want to break my neck slipping on ice in my heels. And while I do like to wear heels, I find that my back and arches are not what they used to be and by the end of the day, I’m not feeling great. Sigh.

  • 01/06/11
    8:43 am

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    Jacqueline said...

    I am a lawyer in a fairly small Canadian town just outside a large city. There are a few other women, but it is still a profession dominated by men in this area. I have never really liked loafers, as I have a high arch and very high instep and most are very uncomfortable for me. I am also not very tall, 5 feet 4 inches, and I find that the extra bit of height I get from a fairly medium heel makes me that little bit closer to all the men who tower over me! Being Canadian, we also can get away with boots much of the time and yes, even in the courtroom (usually under a pantsuit, and some of my tall dressy boots I will wear with a skirt suit). I frequent a shop full of Italian and Spanish shoes which are absolutely stunning and I must confess that great shoes and boots have become an important part of my work wardrobe. I do go the “big city” frequently and can advise that most corporate women there (and lawyers) seem to be into heels rather than flats, from my own observations. Another point: since most of my pants are hemmed for heels, it would be tough to switch now to flats. I’d either have to re-hem many things or buy new outfits and hem them shorter. That seems like too much of a pain!

  • 01/06/11
    8:51 am

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    Mardel said...

    Since I was absent from the blog world for a while, I missed the referenced post and just went back to read it now. Actually I rather liked your dinner with clients outfit and would have opted for that choice whole-heartedly when I was in the corporate world, I would wear the same thing again today if I were again in that situation.

    It was always my thought that work was a battleground and a game of sorts, and to do well you had to learn the rules and master them. I’m all for arming oneself for battle. Since my field was high-tech which was dominated by the “boy fish”, I found that pants and flats could serve me well, better often than little “dress for success” suits and low heeled pumps, although they also had their place. I also found that the higher the stakes the stricter the rules and the more critical the details. This was a world where subtle details could speak volumes.

    Mind you this was my experience. It may not be the experience of others, it may not be relevant today, but I suspect that in certain fields and at certain levels the rules remain much the same. The culture of money and power does not change all that rapidly.

    I played the game well. So well, in fact that it took me many year after my retirement from that world to figure out how to dress in a non-corporate way even though I was in a world that most definitely did not understand that code. Now, 15-odd years later I am playing with clothes and style in a way that I never thought possible, even though I suspect that once my current fling is over I will return more to those understated roots.

    Oh, and as to this post, love the first loafers, inspired by the boys but with enough of a feminine and luxurious touch. The next are for casual only, although I like the celadon for a bit of a subversive touch when you can get away with it. I would buy both of those pairs today for a more dressed look with perhaps the Bargas for everyday as they go better with my country-village life and cobblestone sidewalks.

  • 01/06/11
    8:55 am

    Reply

    metscan said...

    I don´t have to worry about office shoes. Most of the time, I wear winter rubber boots, wool socks inside, so I am attracted by beautiful shoes with some heel, but they must feel comfortable. I also wish to change shoes during the day. Sorry, but so many loafers look unattractive.

  • 01/06/11
    8:59 am

    Reply

    Muffy Martini said...

    I love a good loafer and own many, but must admit a heel is always worn with a suit. I have a pair of rounded toe 3 inch mary jane heels that are “Sturdy” enough to signify I know what I am doing while still saying I am feminine and ladylike. I also like a high heeled boot with a pant suit (of which I own few). I do believe the girth of a heel makes a large difference too. A wider heel vs a stiletto is a LOT different.

    Having said all that, the last time I wore a suit was for my interview and loafers are MUCH more prevalent in my everyday wardrobe than heels. Comfort first always! Terrific post.

  • 01/06/11
    8:59 am

    Reply

    Valentine Hayes said...

    I love this post! More women should try comfort over fashion. V.

  • 01/06/11
    9:00 am

    Reply

    Muffy Martini said...

    One more thought– where are the Bass Weejuns?

  • 01/06/11
    9:04 am

    Reply

    Patsy said...

    I’ve either commuted on mass transit or walked to work for my entire career – 23 years, eek! – so heels are out. Which is fine with me, since I walk like a drunken third grader in heels anyway.

    Love loafers! I have many pairs, including a pair of pennies, in which I place actual pennies – maybe ironically?

  • 01/06/11
    9:17 am

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    Mrs. Mix It said...

    I still wear my crocodile loafers and love them!!!

  • 01/06/11
    9:39 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Genuine Lustre – I hate that feeling of the sock attack. I’d never wear uncomfortable loafers. I tend to like the softer, Italian type, that don’t require socks at all.

    Hostess – MOTU? I am slow today:). But not so slow that I failed to laugh at the hip waders. Some fashion-forward boots certainly look like they are for fishing.

    Tabitha – I suppose that when I was working and engaged in the political struggle I needed to feel sensible.

    quintessence – Exactly – in an art department you’ve got to show evidence of an artistic sensibility or the non-art types will start to think they know better, if they don’t already:).

    Jan – A good bow can not be undervalued:).

    Carole – Not a coincidence, I think:).

  • 01/06/11
    9:46 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    JulieTTE – It completely makes sense. Attitude is 80% of it. You are right, of course, I wouldn’t wear loafers with a dress. I worked in the days before the 21st Century Revolution Of The Dress. The one time I wore a dress in sales it was quite subversive. Now, were I back in the trenches, I might take a dress and jacket with me.

    Southern Living – Hahahahhah! The embroidered fish still make me laugh. I think you make the right decision, to alter your armour to the battlefield:). There are no absolute rules, everything has to be figured out in context.

    Stephanie – Heels that look like loafers. Now that’s a complex construct. Hmm. Must ponder.

    Jen – Well just get the coolest loafers you can find and cherish the lack of back pain, right?

    Jacqueline – You know, if you feel right in heels, and you work hard and fight the good fight, they probably work for you in your environment.

    Mardel – I worked in tech too. I am suspecting now that the all-boy nature of tech is above and beyond what many experience in other industries. Interesting that you too had a tough time figuring out how to dress once retired. I’m still working on that.

  • 01/06/11
    9:51 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Mette – To each her own, in life and loafers.

    Muffy – I wore the loafers for comfort, in part. But also for impact. Perhaps being both a woman, and a non-tech, in the world of very touchy software and very smart software guys, I was always, um, man down. So I wanted to make sure I sent out nothing but signals of Don’t Mess With Me. And I wouldn’t do Weejuns for work. I liked the finesse of Italian clothes, and needed to keep some sign of femininity to make it clear I had a mind of my own.

    Valentine – I thank you!

    Patsy – Which begs the question of drunken 3rd graders altogether. Ironic pennies are good. Maybe you should get some Chinese renmbi or something:).

    Mrs. Mix-It – I have a deep fondness for croc of all sorts!

  • 01/06/11
    9:56 am

    Reply

    The Broke Socialite said...

    I’m saying it loud: I wear loafters and I’m proud!

  • 01/06/11
    10:13 am

    Reply

    That's Not My Age said...

    I’m in the flat brigade too – I love a pair of brogues – so practical! Though I haven’t worn loafers for a while, I have been contemplating buying a pair to wear with rolled up jeans or chinos – and I wouldn’t say no to a small selection of Tod’s.

  • 01/06/11
    10:26 am

    Reply

    Miss Janey said...

    Another thoughtful, interesting post. Miss J has owned and worn several different pairs of loafers to work over the years, though currently she has none. Of the above loafers, she prefers the navy croc. Although Miss J works in a conservative investment firm, as the receptionist she has a bit more leeway with attire that some others and she likes their slight funkiness. She is sorely tempted by them. There are some days when Miss J actaully spends more time on her feet than in her seat and the heels, even 3 inchers, can become a drag.

  • 01/06/11
    10:30 am

    Reply

    Lori West said...

    While I love flats and own many pairs (including some LOVELY black crocodile Ferragamos), they make my back hurt. I can run a foot-race in heels, the higher the better, with most of mine in the 3-4 inch range. I love how they make my legs look, whereas flats make them look pretty stumpy. My mother (God rest her soul), wore heels into her mid-70s, and still turned heads. I guess I’m my Mother’s daughter after all…

  • 01/06/11
    10:37 am

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    Rishona said...

    Well I’m not ‘Priviledged’, but can I still comment?

    I broke my left leg and hip in a car accident two years ago so I look great in heels; I just can’t walk or stand in them. Not for very long anyway. But heels look stunning, and men LOVE them. We live in a society where sexuality drives a lot. So yes, I think that heels look much more attractive than flats.

    Now as for loafers specifically, I think all of the shoes displayed are nice looking. But to really embrace them? Eh, that’s a bit too ‘Ellen Degeneres’ for my taste!

    01/06/11
    10:38 am
    Rishona said...

    Uh…I meant ‘Privileged’ – sorry for the typo!

  • 01/06/11
    10:54 am

    Reply

    deja pseu said...

    I’m a loafer-loving gal, but lately they’ve felt just a tad stodgy. But now that orange pair is making me rethink that judgement…love those!!

  • 01/06/11
    10:55 am

    Reply

    Lori said...

    I have been away from the working world for a while now, but while I was there I traveled a lot. Loafers were a great option, both for comfort and professionalism.

    I looove the orange pair in your post!

  • 01/06/11
    11:02 am

    Reply

    Arachna said...

    I am in the camp of flats at work almost always (except with skirts perhaps). But, I don’t like most of the loafers aesthetically speaking probably partly because I never seen them on anyone and am not acclimated. I like to stick with flats like the lovely quilted Manolo flats you have, or the narrow and feminine oxfords I recently purchased – exactly the same as a man’s… but unmistakably feminine because of how small and narrow they are and the gently rounded pointy toe.

  • 01/06/11
    11:12 am

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    woolgathering&miscellany said...

    aww, shucks. nice post, but i clicked over thinking this was about loafing, as in laziness.

    xo!

  • 01/06/11
    12:05 pm

    Reply

    Valentine Hayes said...

    Lisa, Any thoughts on Faith Popcorn’s (BrainReserve)latest prediction…En-Gen?

  • 01/06/11
    12:33 pm

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    Paula said...

    My 5 cents: http://www.textileglobal.com/2010/07/bbb-ludwig-reiter-shoes-for-spring-2011.html
    If only I could afford them and would not choose the sneakers, 9 times out of 10. What I noticed about high heels: there are women who wear highheels somehow to demonstrate their power. Unfortunately they have no power. In the end you end up with a lot of noisy heels. *tok tok tok tok tok* A female minister in Austria once forbid heels in her office! The media got it wrong and thought she would fight sexy appereances. I am sure, she could not stand the toktoktoktok in the busy administrative office.

  • 01/06/11
    12:57 pm

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    Susan Tiner said...

    Those loafers look great.

    Is there a rule about not wearing orange with black?

    I love loafers. I still have LL Bean loafers I bought 15 years ago. They’re really comfy now.

  • 01/06/11
    1:40 pm

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    Someone (whose posts Blogger sometimes eats) said...

    Loafers. Well…my preferred shoe style for work is a somewhat chunky-heeled monk-strap slipon (in black). Which I think qualifies as some form of loafer. They give my non-tall frame some boost but are still stylish with pants and skirts without endangering my safety, comfort, or businesslike demeanor. And they’re not as mannish as the classic loafers.

    I like heels, but not for work. Since I am not tall and have a pinup figure, they generally aren’t a good idea outside of occasion dressing. Plus, my small feet combined with the fact that a shoe will have the SAME height heel on every size it comes in from 5.5 up means that high heels are very steep on the foot, and in fact they can look quite out of proportion on someone of petite height (ironically enough).

    So, since flats tend to look pretty bad on me, it is to as stylish a stable heel as I can find.

    And I think I can be honest here…I really recoil from those moccasins! To me a shoe like that says “80s housewife.” Or maybe these are slightly “driving shoe,” ok, but…oh my not for me!

  • 01/06/11
    1:49 pm

    Reply

    DocP said...

    High instep/high arch makes most loafers a bad fit for me. I’m definitely in the flats camp with trouser suits, but usually with a shoe with a lower profile and matching trouser socks except in summer. I think dresses/skirt suits work better for me with a low heeled pump. I also refuse to wear any shoe that is uncomfortable – my days are too long.

  • 01/06/11
    2:50 pm

    Reply

    Duchesse said...

    Those navy croc loafers, TDF! Any shoe in croc (or alligator- hell, I’m not that picky) says serious haute-ness, if your boy fish knows the real deal from stamped calf.

    I’m 5’10. When I was a corporate exec I’d wear heels when I wanted to defend myself from a 5’6″ VP who was a mean little weasel. Otherwise preferred those 2″ stacked heels (a high heeled loafer) or dressy flats. But that bastard got me looming over him in 4-inch Maude Frizons.

  • 01/06/11
    2:56 pm

    Reply

    Charlotte said...

    Loafers–no, not for me. I like the orange ones, though. And flats, yes, yes. When I first started reading blogs, Sal at Already Pretty swayed me into trying heels for the first time. They do look great. They do not feel great. I’ve slipped back into flatter shoes and happier feet.

  • 01/06/11
    3:13 pm

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    Terri said...

    Probably a lot depends on the startaing heighth. I am tall, whereas several of my male colleagues (to include administrators) are not. It is a faux pas for me to tower around in conservative heels. Sometimes my decisions are made by the collection of folks in a meeting. I tend toward flats and do own a couple pair of conservative loafers in soft leathers. I don’t think the messages I’m obliged to convey need to be quite so subtle because in theory I am a bit lower on the totem pole than administrators.

  • 01/06/11
    3:53 pm

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    Worthy said...

    I am a fan of classic Bass loafers for work, and Brooks Brothers and J.Crew driving mocs. Great post, as usual.

  • 01/06/11
    3:57 pm

    Reply

    Jean S said...

    After all these years of practicing yoga, my feet call the shots. Uncomfortable shoes are out. O.U.T.

    You should see me at the shoe store. I walk around deep in concentration, trying to “listen” to my arches and metatarsals.

    Good thing I’m not in corporate land, because flats tend to get deep-sixed (as do many high heels).

  • 01/06/11
    4:03 pm

    Reply

    Liz said...

    I’ve always appreciated the feminism behind a good pair of loafers. (damn the man!)

    But the heels make my calves look FANTASTIC.

  • 01/06/11
    4:04 pm

    Reply

    Sarah said...

    I wear low-to-mid-height heels to work. I am on the short side and find that the added height gives me a boost. I don’t, however, wear skirts (as a general rule), preferring wide-legged slacks. With a little extra height, and a traditional slack, I feel much more equal to my male counterparts in the office.

    I do not like feeling like I have to look up to speak to my equals.

  • 01/06/11
    4:05 pm

    Reply

    Suburban Princess said...

    Hmmm interesting.
    When I want to be taken seriously like at a meeting or other event where I need to deal with men ie old fogies I wear flats. When I want to charm them or sway them with feminine wiles…I wear heels.

  • 01/06/11
    4:12 pm

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    Ann Gregory said...

    I’ve always loved loafers and am happy to find myself in such excellent company.

  • 01/06/11
    4:18 pm

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    Kiki said...

    great post. I’m a fan of black patent leather loafers for an updated look. Also, Talbot’s had adorable peep toe loafers last summer. I know it sounds ridiculous and I was a skeptic but in person, cute as a button. Tod’s and Cole Haan also good source and both can be found in outlet malls.

  • 01/06/11
    10:21 pm

    Reply

    kathy peck leeds said...

    I recently found myself longing for a pair of Bass loafers, but they aren’t particularly comfortable. Found a very similar pair from Church’s (English) – Cordovan penny loafers. I wear them with jeans, usually rolled up a bit, no socks and sweaters. I’ve gotten more compliments on them from men than I’ve ever gotten from a pair of high heels. They’re very comfy and have a school girl sexiness about them.

  • 01/07/11
    3:28 am

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    Patricia said...

    I often wear loafers, but only as casual wear during the day. Most of my dressy pants have a longer hem, so I must wear heels. I prefer loafers to ballerina flats or skimmers on my rather large size nine feet – they just seem a bit more in proportion. My favorite loafer this year is a black hair calf Tod’s – very soft, a little different, yet still classic. Great post!

  • 01/07/11
    7:04 am

    Reply

    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    Lisa-
    Oops…sorry but I thought that you used this term in a previous post.

    MOTU suit=
    Master of the Universe
    …a power suit/uniform

    a corporate powerhouse figure, a force to be reckoned with, a MOTU

    happy that you laughed at the Hip Waders!

  • 01/07/11
    8:21 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    TBS – And I am quite happy to be in your company.

    That’s Not My Age – I love my brogues for casual, but they would have felt too menswear for work, since I was almost always in trousers.

    Miss Janey – I am now most tempted by the navy croc myself. As a receptionist, you do have just that bit more freedom.

    Lori West – I suppose whether one can run a race ought to be the true test for shoes worn in battle:).

    Rishona – Yes! You are one of the Privilege[d]. That’s what I have wound up calling everyone who does me the huge favor of reading along as I natter. I agree that heels look sexier, but I confess, I never found that looking sexy at work was helpful. BTW, I found out recently that Privilege is the #1 most often misspelled word in the English language. What was I thinking?

  • 01/07/11
    8:40 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Deja – I can completely see you in the orange ones.

    Lori – Me too:).

    Arachna – You have never seen loafers on anyone? That’s so interesting. Where do you live? In what business do you work? I clearly have more to learn.

    Woolgathering – Next time, next time, she says from her sofa:).

    Susan – The rule is just not to remind anyone of Hallowe’en unless you have to:).

    Someone – Yes, you can be honest. Thank you. Polite and honest is the best route always. I countered the mannishness of my loafers by wearing suits of very fluid fabric, crepe, silk weave, etc. Others wear more structured suits, and heels. I simply never was comfortable, neither physically nor contextually, in that look. And it is about feeling as confident as possible, all the while sending accurate signals.

  • 01/07/11
    8:46 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    DocP – I agree, dresses/skirts need a heel of some sort. I stopped wearing anything but pants to work somewhere around 2000, so am out of practice for work heels. When I wore them it was almost always Weitzman or Ferragmo, due to fit and finish. Interesting about the arch issue, because I’ve also got a high one but the loafers I’ve owned have never conflicted.

    Duchesse – Hahahahahahaha! Doesn’t conquering a weasel feel glorious?

    Charlotte – Well let us all celebrate your happy feet!

    Terri – Your thinking is very much like mine. Work shoes, in my experience, were much less about style in a self-expressive way than they were about setting me down into an environment with peers.

    Worthy – Well thank you:). I haven’t looked at the Brooks Brothers shoes in a while, must check them out.

  • 01/07/11
    8:52 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Jean S. – Ha! I do the same, often, listening to my feet.

    Liz – Aha. Yes. There is feminism in there and I’m happy to be counted. In my day, having my calves look fantastic just got in the way of being able to be valued for my work:(. I hear things are better now. I hope that’s true.

    Sarah – Sounds as though you have a strategy that works for you, especially if you have already settled on wide-legged slacks as a signature. I like them wide-legged too, and although one has to hunt a bit, they can be found.

    Suburban – I understand your thought process. I simply found that feminine wiles in the office backfired. In the offices I frequented, at least.

    Ann – Welcome! And since we’re wearing loafers, we don’t even have to sit down:).

  • 01/07/11
    9:01 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Kiki – Thanks. I also like black patent for work shoes. Conservative but not boring. I will have to look up peep toe loafers:).

    Kathy Peck Leeds – I like the sound of cordovan loafers with rolled up jeans. Also with a white button front shirt – again, conservative but not rote.

    Patricia – Thank you. I agree, black calf hair is like patent, classic but different. Don’t you wish someone would come up with a good technology for the hem conundrum?

    Hostess – Oh! OK. I know the term, and I did use it, but I just didn’t get the acronym. Thanks for the explanation. Here’s to waders:).

  • 01/07/11
    10:26 am

    Reply

    Arachna said...

    Ha. I’m in a big law firm in NYC and young/junior. The only things I think were loafers I can recall seeing on anyone was a. a middle aged secretary wearing a particularly horrific example with a skirt and b. the opposing lawyer in a state court case with a dress who also looked inappropriate in my opinion. I’m sure I have been on the same floor with woman wearing lovely loafers with their pants but I have never noticed even though I do like shoes and pay attention to them. What I see around here is heels and flats, more heels than flats, no loafers. I suspect part of it might be age related – unfortuantely I don’t see many older female partners.

  • 01/07/11
    10:27 am

    Reply

    rb said...

    I am fine with low or no heels, depending on the outfit, but I find loafer style shoes too masculine a look for my tastes. I like a regular flat or low heeled pump, like the classic Ferragamo bow pump.

  • 01/07/11
    11:07 am

    Reply

    Arachna said...

    And I know it might be a lot to ask of someone who is not blogging annoynomously but I would really appreciate it if you ever blogged about those experiences of looking sexy backfiring. It makes sense to me intuitively but my intuition is not as good as someone’s experience and it would also help clarify exactly what you mean by looking sexy. Just a request (maybe another Corporette guest post?)!

  • 01/07/11
    11:10 am

    Reply

    Mary Jo Matsumoto said...

    I am a tried and true loafer wearer (partly because I’m tall) but just like cardigans, it’s something reliable and part of my arsenal. I will say that I like wearing heels and funnily enough reserve those for important business meetings when I need a literal and figurative mental boost (nothing like being the tallest person in a room full of men to command a little attention). But back to loafers, I am loving your new pair (top photo) and just read that Nina Garcia says that one should not buy shoes that are too pointy or too rounded but classics. Sounds like a loafer to me!

    xo Mary Jo

  • 01/07/11
    12:12 pm

    Reply

    Alex in DC said...

    I’ve always thought the loafer was a perfect work flat – I was a bit surprised at the heels for dinner response. Also strange were the LBD only comments. I work in a male dominated profession – changing into a dress while the guys wait around for me for a work dinner is strange to say the very least. The guys don’t change .. why would we?

    Regarding the loafer – I like a simple one – almost minimalist – always in black. Gravati’s Barga Loafer in black is pretty close to my ideal.

  • 01/08/11
    9:21 am

    Reply

    miss sophie said...

    one of my style inspirations, Sofia Coppola, is a stauch flat/mid-heel kind of woman. i love that she regularly shows up to black-tie events wearing ballet flats or the demure Louboutin ‘Miss Tick’. and didn’t Louboutin come out with a black calfskin loafer with studs all over? lol. that may have to be my wild and crazy (un-corporate) loafer option :D

  • 01/08/11
    11:53 am

    Reply

    La Belette Rouge said...

    I don’t think heels are the only shoe of gravitas. I too love a loafer. I wear loafers with heels often. But I also love a flat loafer. Cole Haan has a suede red driving loafer that I have my eye on.

  • 01/09/11
    10:34 am

    Reply

    Audi said...

    Hmm, perhaps my aversion to loafers explains why I still haven’t even made it to director level, let alone CEO. Do they call them loafers because they make your feet look like loaves, I wonder?

  • 01/09/11
    5:43 pm

    Reply

    KathleenKMM said...

    I am late to the comment party. I’m a government lawyer in a small town and I just can’t buy into loafers. They make me feel old. I’m very “chronically tailored” with my dress but try to be subversive with my shoes. I wear flats a LOT but not loafers…but those orange ones are tempting for casual Friday.

  • 01/10/11
    10:03 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Arachna – It’s possible that this discussion of loafers, somewhere, has hints to the answer as to why one doesn’t see many older female partners. Not the wearing of them, per se, but the dynamics that make them controversial.

    rb – I always counteracted the masculinity of loafers by wearing suits and trousers that draped well.

    Arachna – That might be more than I’m comfortable disclosing. But I could perhaps speak to it more generally. Or, I could wait another decade, when it will all matter less. I do appreciate you asking. And I’m happy to discuss in email.

    Mary Jo – Oh, cardigans were my friend too:). I was never tall, but sometimes I’d take whatever help I could to gain authority.

    Alex – Why should we change indeed? Why should uncomfortable shoes be considered more feminine? It’s all very interesting to me.

  • 01/10/11
    10:09 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Miss Sophie – I like the idea of a studded loafer. Very post-modern:).

    La Belette – Well phew. Some classicists remain.

    Audi – Somehow I never thought rising through the corporate hierarchy was your goal. You seem to be having far too much fun:).

    Kathleen – Right. I did it the other way. I wore loafers, and then made sure my clothing always hung with a bit of a drape and flow.

  • 01/10/11
    8:07 pm

    Reply

    Buckeroomama said...

    I oohed over #1; aahed over #2; vigorously nodded at #3. But you most likely would see me in #5.

  • 01/12/11
    3:28 am

    Reply

    Susan said...

    I’m in the high instep crowd, which explains why I’ve never found loafers comfortable. I love flats, but of the more feminine variety. Or, give me a simple pump with a bit of interest. For me, the loafer almost always denotes stodginess, masculinity and casual dress.

    I found your post entry here fascinating. And, I do think there are so many different styles of dress. And there are loafer sorts of people and people who would never wear them.

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