Come into force around February next year

According to the Wall Street Journal, men’s loafers are making a comeback. “Bergdorf Goodman’s men’s store, called Goodman’s, is making a big push with loafers this year,” writes the Journal‘s Ray A. Smith. “A factor behind the loafer proliferation is the move to more smart-casual dress codes at work…. And the big fashion influence is the runaway success of Gucci’s fur-lined loafers, launched last year.” Fur-lined? I think I’ll pass, lest I be accused of being a fancy boy.

As you can imagine, there were lots of opportunities for ridicule. (I did once have pennies in my penny loafers. Once.) “They are … an easy style to mock,” Smith says. “Their long association with blue bloods and the Ivy League provides good fodder for social media ribbing of men who wear loafers, especially those who, like TV anchorman Matt Lauer, do so without socks.” Again, guilty as charged.

But in my memory, there was a specific moment when loafers began to go out of fashion. It was during a speech given by President George H. W. Bush at the Republican National Convention in 1992:

Sharp lawyers are running wild. Doctors are afraid to practice medicine and some moms and pops won’t even coach Little League anymore. We must sue each other less and care for each other more. I am fighting to reform our legal system to put an end to crazy lawsuits. And if that means climbing into the ring with the trial lawyers, well, let me just say, round one starts tonight. After all—after all, my opponent’s campaign is being backed by practically every trial lawyer who ever wore a tasseled loafer.

Boom. President Bush dropped the mic and walked off the stage. Or at least that’s how I remember it. (I was in college so my memory is a bit foggy.) In any event, the quip got a lot of play at the time. “Bush Making ‘The Tasseled Loafer’ a Symbol of Nation’s Woes” was the headline from the Associated Press. The London Evening Standard asked, “Is Loafer Man a threat to life as we know it? George Bush has identified a new enemy in society: men who wear tasseled loafers. Could he possibly be right?” Even a year later, Neil A. Lewis wrote a column in the New York Timesentitled “The Politicization of Tasseled Loafers.” In short, loafers went through a Sideways Merlot moment.