By Jacob Gallagher and Jason Gay 

OVER THE past year, as many Americans began working from home -- and letting their style standards dip -- fashion and footwear brands from Nike to Gucci began pumping out inviting, slide-on shoes. Many were peculiar, backless models. These "you don't even need to lift your heel" mules might suit a life of slovenly at-home shuffling. But are any stylish enough to wear outside? Men's fashion editor Jacob Gallagher and sports columnist Jason Gay debate the issue.

Jason: Can we talk about slippers? Sweatpants and hoodies dominated spring quarantine-chic, but now that it's winter, it's all about slippers. Slippers are the new sweatpants. Discuss.

Jacob: Slippers keep you warm. That's the practical justification but here's the truth: We've all become lazy. Tying laces? That's a chore. And no one's going anywhere fancy. So slippers carry the day. Shuffle out in them to the store. No one will judge you.

Jason: Slippers are a blissfully lazy option. And I was perfectly capable of being lazy before the pandemic -- I was lazy before it was cool. However, to me, a slipper is strictly a stay-at-home option. You can wear slides outside, but a slipper is never-touches-pavement footwear. Once a slipper goes outside, it's ruined. Jacob, are you wandering around the supermarket in slippers?

Jacob: Never in true slippers, but in summer I did wear pool slides inside and out. I've since moved on to closed-toed, backless rubber Birkenstocks, which have proved warmer. They're enticingly lazy, but if your vision is bad enough they kinda look like loafers. At least, that's what I tell myself. Where do you fall on mules like that?

Jason: Men in Mules -- it sounds like a new Monty Python movie. I was aghast when I saw backless sneakers -- I want to know who at Adidas thought it was a good idea to make a mule out of the Stan Smith. More recent ones like the Nike Offline work better -- they're designed to be mules, not some mutant. GQ called them one of the Best Sneakers of the Year for 2020. I've yet to try them, but the Offline comes with "massage" inserts -- they're the optimal lazy person's shoe for 2021.

Jacob: I think that's the dividing line here. The shoes are intended to make the wearer feel lazy, but the design shouldn't be. I'd say New Balance's backless 990, Converse's shaved Chuck Taylor and even Gucci's front-only loafer are as bad as the ho-hum severed Stan Smith. If you're just chopping half the shoe off, it's not interesting. However, Nike's Offline and Reebok's retro Beatnik are the right calibration of sloth and creativity.

Jason: I should say I recently fell prey to fashion and bought slippers. Instagram got to me, Jacob, and I went for the fuzzy white Allbirds slippers. They look like baby sheep on my feet. For three days, they were pristine, my favorite shoes ever, until I forgetfully stepped outside onto the gritty New York City pavement and walked to the...well, Jacob, I won't lie. I walked to the liquor store in my fuzzy slippers. If that doesn't scream 2021, I don't know what does.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 13, 2021 14:10 ET (19:10 GMT)

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