Sometimes it feels like the New York Times' Thursday Styles is punking us. A lot of times, really. Today is no exception, as Guy Trebay writes of a horrifying new trend: "You see them all the time lately, grown women who look as if they dressed for work and then walked out of the house and forgot their shoes. On the A train at 42nd Street, a woman in a business suit stood reading the business reports on her iPad, on her feet fur slippers as big as plates."
Women (and women are the only examples in this piece) are wearing slippers out on the streets, in plain sight, in full view of members of the same and opposite sex! Slippers, bed shoes, foot apparel we don't even wear in our own homes because our feet just don't get that cold and we prefer to spend our money on socks or normal shoes. But people are not wearing socks or normal shoes to work. No, they are wearing "rubber-sole Swirl Furry slippers" as they hail taxis, or "pink Steve Madden fuzzy slipper boots that looked as if made from the pelt of a Wookie" as they shop for organic veggies at the Union Square Greenmarket. ('Fess up, Trebay. This is all just a bid to see "Wookie" printed in the pages of the New York Times. Right?)
Maybe there's some truth here, in so much as, sure, people tend to wear whatever they want—shearling slippers, if they like—in New York City; there's a less standardized dress code at play than you might find in small towns and villages, and what might be considered "weird" elsewhere (Pink and green hair! Butt-less chaps! Gogo boots and short-shorts in December!) is oft perceived as fairly normal, or at least, not given a second look. But slippers to work? It seems too close for comfort to that other recently decried trend of "pajama jeans" or those full-on "pajama suits" that grown-up ladies were wearing, pajamas as daywear, as sold by J.Crew and other retailers. Back in January of this year, Farhad Manjoo wrote for Slate of the growing "pajamas as daywear" trend, but assured us that we shouldn't take it as representative of America's declining moral fashion fiber. Nay, he explained, "We ought to celebrate and encourage the daytime pajama trend as a progressive and egalitarian cultural development, on the order of child labor laws, mass public education, and pants becoming acceptable for women."
But people are now wearing slippers in the streets? This is not all just the fault of Uggs, either, writes Trebay (nor is it simply the fault of Snooki, a well-known street-slipper populizer). Fuzzy slipper-esque shoes are hitting the runways, too. This is high fashion, or high irony, or something. And Trebay definitely thinks it stands as a slippery slope, a fall into casualness and even sloppiness, laziness, pure sloth and bad fashion, that is not for the better: "Saggers, slip dresses, lingerie worn as outerwear, pajamas on the street, bed head, Crocs and the dreaded Adidas shower shoes are all examples of the ways a once sharp division between how we dress at home and present ourselves on the street has blurred, probably forever. The days of a hat and gloves for town are gone with the dodo," he writes.
Alas, poor dodo! Of course, it's pretty routine to mourn the loss of the formality and elegance of "the old days" even as we appreciate the comfort (and progress) that the new days bring. But there are some real fears about this trend, too. For one: Once we're all working from bed, another recently decried trend, what is to become of the struggling slipper industry? On the plus side, though, I far prefer slippers in the streets to the harrowing sight of those terrible five-fingered running shoes in the offices, grocery stores, bars, restaurants, and gyms. One must pick her battles, I suppose.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.