I wore slippers to work 'cos they were back in trend - and I hated every minute of it

I wore slippers to work 'cos they were back in trend - and I hated every minute of it

The next sentence that I type is some words that I never thought I would ever have to string together, let alone be featured in a listicle on some of the world's leading fashion publications.


So upon some heavy research (and by research I mean frantically type in the words "slippers" and "trending again" into google), it seems like the birthplace of this trend started where all the other weird trends start: the Balenciaga runway the street style scene surrounding fashion week.



As a child who came of age in the 2000s, this is how I feel about trends in general: if you were old enough to work them the first time, you should probably sit them out the second time around. Unlike the '60s that gave us the mini skirt or the '70s with their high-waisted wide-leg flares (both timeless and flattering articles of clothing that we continue to wear today), the 2000s were a wild and weird time for fashion.

For the first time ever, celebrity fashion was at an all-time high, with tabloids and blogs democratising fame and fashion with reality TV starlets like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and the cast of MTV's Laguna Beach dominating the red carpets and magazine covers.



There were ultra-low rise jeans (bought a pair from Topshop), oversized sunglasses (had a heavy rotation of five that made me look like an insect), the homeless chic look Mary-Kate Olsen favoured (I cut holes in my jeans and bought all my knitwear in an XL), and slippers worn with everything (Havaianas was basically my favourite brand of footwear).

Thanks to shows like The OC and Blue Crush, the Californian beachside town aesthetic was in and the trend-obsessed 14-year-old me was going to copy everything my teen idols wore in order to be cool.

I rocked a black headband, gold hoops, peasant blouse, skinny tapered jeans and black rubber slippers like no tomorrow just because Nicole Richie did it. Paired together with a fake Chloe Paddington handbag carried in the crook of my elbow, of course. I was no amateur dresser during the early aughts.



And when heeled slippers came into fashion, I managed to pick up a white pair with kitten heels early on from Aussie label Jay Jays when I was in Perth for a family holiday (they look EXACTLY like these). I was so psyched to be ahead of the curve and amongst the first of my friend group to rock a pair.

I would wear them specifically with a cropped baby tee and a pair of wide cuffed jeans. I wish I still had photo evidence of it to relive this second-hand embarrassment for your amusement but your loss is my gain. You can use this as a reference instead.



So when I started to see them trickle onto the streets of fashion week, I chuckled and reminisced about those times before filing it under "never again". I knew if I were to wear them to the office in Singapore, the only reaction I would receive is "Eh, you sprain your ankle ah?".

And then 2019 happened, and the entire Kardashian-Jenner clan started wearing heeled slippers everywhere. Leather slippers were even beginning to appear at Paris Fashion Week. "Not to the Chanel show?!" I exclaimed to no one in particular as I looked on in horror. A quick search on Net-a-porter gave me 63 results with the cheapest starting at US$30 and the most expensive at US$812.

No thousand dollar slippers here. My entire haul just cost me $46.70

It wasn't all bad though. Current iterations in the market were mostly made of leather and in neutral tones, giving them an elevated look from its rubber predecessors. I was perplexed but still intrigued enough to maybe attempt a heeled version again for the sake of a story.

But to my dismay, Associate Digital Editor Hidayah was not going to let me have an easy time. She approved my story only on the account that I go back to the root of the trend and purchase cheap slippers to wear with my office outfits.

I completely baulked at the idea, but because of journalism and a good story, I decided to do it.

Did I manage to pull it off? And did my colleagues make fun of me?


So, for Day 1, I decided to start with the slippers I liked the most. I figured I was more likely to give slippers a chance if I at least didn’t detest the look of them.

For a great price of $10, I found a black faux leather pair deep in the bowels of Bugis Street. They resembled the high-end leather Gianvitto Rossi versions I saw online and seemed the most “formal” too. Well, as formal as slippers could get really. It even had a square toe which not only gave me Bottega Venetta vibes but made the shoe look a bit more “fashion”.

Because my shoes were already super casual, I decided to overcompensate by wearing a couple of suit-like pieces to balance out my entire look. If this whole outfit isn’t the definition of business casual, then I don’t know what is.

I definitely didn’t feel as put-together as I usually was, but then I recalled the encouragement a fellow fashion writer gave me when I spoke to him about the challenge. “If anyone could pull of slippers, it would be you,” he told me. So with the over-inflated self-confidence of a street style peacock, I strutted into the office. I walked eagerly over to Associate Editor Sophie’s table to show off my look. “So, am I pulling this off?” I asked her, fully expecting the answer to be an astounding “OMG, yes!”

This was what I got instead.

*Laughs non-stop for two whole minutes* “No.”

I slunk off to hide my feet in shame under my desk. This was NOT off to a good start.


Low on confidence, I decided to go with the most basic pair of slippers I had gotten—a black rubber pair from the value store. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen, right? In line with the idea of overcompensating on my outfit, for this I chose a black tuxedo waistcoat and a pair of tailored black pants with beaded embroidery. I even threw in a tiny diamante shopper bag for good measure.

“Eh, you look like a MAC Cosmetics counter makeup artist who’s on her lunch break.” — Associate Editor, Sophie



I was halfway through the challenge and feeling utterly miserable. On top of that, yesterday’s pair had given me mini blisters in between my big and second toe, making walking a bit uncomfortable.

But I decided, f*ck it, I was going to try to have some fun with this.

Initially, I was dreading this pair, but after the last two fashion faux pas, I was oddly excited for today’s pair. While it was a tacky silver pair with diamante crystals on the strap, it made me think fondly of 2000s’ Paris Hilton and all the times I tried to channel her in my teenage years. At this point, I figured, it was best to just go full OTT with this pair. So I pulled together my best Y2K look and an assortment of diamante jewellery.

And the end result was not too bad. The slippers felt like a complement to my jewellery and the outfit seemed to work, more so for a beach holiday in Bali than the office but you know what, that’s what the wool blazer (albeit sleeveless) was for.

“I don’t have a violent reaction to them, and they kind of go with the outfit you have on but they look a bit auntie and out of place on you. But I will fully accept them if you wore them with the anarkali (a traditional Indian dress-like garment) when you come to my place to celebrate Diwali. At least it will match, unlike the time where Sophie wore hers with combat boots.” — Beauty Editor, Smita DeSouza

You know what, I’ll take my wins where I can get them.


It seemed like I was getting the hang of this. The key was to embrace my slippers and not hide them. I decided to go for a European summer in the South of France look with an open-neck draped white shirt and a pair of cropped cuffed jeans to show off my slippers. But because I have flouted enough office dress code violations this year, I modestly covered up with a fitted tee underneath.

“You look Japanese!” An art director and fashion media studies lecturer friend of mine commented.

(I figured it’s because of the clog-like look and colours that these slippers had.)

But finally! Approval from someone with taste! I was not an ultimate failure and fashion faux pas.


Yay! The last and final day of the great slipper-thon! I left these for the last day because with the gradient leopard print and mix of tones they were the most casual looking of the entire bunch. Like there was legit no way going around this.

Because of the iridescent gold straps, I pulled out the one and only dress I had that matched them, an old H&M Studio sheer slip dress. I usually wear this dress with heels to prevent it from looking too much like pyjamas, and with the slippers it was starting to look like I had popped down to the convenience store in my night gown. So I threw on a cropped padded blazer to distract people from looking at my feet.

And it worked! I was headed to a Charles & Keith event and whilst chatting to a fellow industry acquaintance, she asked me about my blazer and when I told her my ploy, she quickly panned down to look at my slippers. “OK lah, they’re not too bad, the way you styled it is still quite fashion,” she reassured me.

But this whole look was so comfortable that I didn’t really care either. In fact when I headed to a friend’s place after to get some writing done and to hang out after, I was so at ease that I almost forgot that I had come from work!


Before embarking on this challenge, I will readily admit that I was intrigued by the heeled versions and was actually contemplating buying a cheap pair. But wearing slippers every day for a week and having my feet so exposed felt weird and unhygienic.

Honestly, if it weren't for this article, I wouldn't have worn slippers outside of a 5km radius from my house-even if they were leather versions from The Row.

Nope. I'm not an Olsen twin or a willowy Scandinavian. I cannot pull this off regardless of how stylish I think I am-especially in a place like Singapore where slipper culture is heavily associated as casual wear and something you wear to the coffee shop or market. I readily admit defeat.

While it did make things like walking about the office to run errands and to the toilet much easier, I felt super sloppy-even though my office has a lax dress code. And I can't count the number of people who kept stepping on the backs of my slippers when I was rushing for the train. I also had to bump up the amount of effort and time needed into dressing up to overcompensate for my footwear.

And so to quote the cast of Shark Tank: "For that reason, I'm out."

P.S. If anyone who's a size 35 and would like a pair of slippers, HMU.

[Ed's Note: As of press time, Cheryl ended up caving and bought herself a designer pair from Alexander Wang at the Club 21 Bazaar]

This article was first published in CLEO Singapore.

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