No mean feet
Slippers have made great strides. Our columnist eases into the best
Slippers is a very unsexy word. It shouldn’t be, really; its derives from the verb “to slip”, and the letters it uses, the sound it makes, offer potential for something far more physical or risqué. But, alas, poor slippers has become synonymous with pipe smoke, middle age and the suburbs.
There have been valiant efforts to restore the slipper to its former, sultanfriendly glory. Velvet slippers rear their crested heads with regularity, but tend now to be used more for evenings out than evenings in. Brands such as Jimmy Choo and Duke & Dexter have exotic designs featuring beaded tassels or embroidered cheetahs that jazz up a tuxedo no end, but perhaps feel a little too extravagant for pottering around your pad in — unless you’re channelling Hugh Hefner. But now that Hef has ascended to the Playboy mansion in the sky, the world’s most high-profile
proponent of the silk smoking gown with velvet slippers combo is no more. It’s time to move on.
So, what are you supposed to wear around the house on a winter’s weekend or night off that both feels and looks good? The fashionistas have found slipper salvation with Gucci’s Princetown fur-lined loafers, but these are quite a statement and could well scare off the Deliveroo man. Those of a more restrained aesthetic have swapped slippers for trainers at home: a worn-in pair of Nike Flyknits, for example, ticks most of the boxes: easy and comfortable for both slobbing out on the sofa or popping out for a pint at your local. But there is still something lacking with a trainer; something you may have enjoyed as a child, but failed to find in age-appropriate form since: a sheepskin lining.
Google “sheepskin slippers” and quite an array pops up on your screen. None of them, however, feel especially metropolitan, or appropriate to wear around the house early on in a relationship. They look as if they belong on Gogglebox, in a Raymond Briggs book, or an episode of Black Lake (watch it on BBC iPlayer; unsettlingly good). I asked a friend, who has a very successful shoe brand, if she could design a manfriendly slipper that had a sheepskin lining with a handsome, visitorfriendly upper. She huffed and puffed, sketched and sampled, and eventually gave up in furious despair. Once more, my quest for the perfect slipper came to nothing.
One relatively new British brand, recommended by a couple of friends, and enjoying early success, is Mahabis. These slippers are designed to be worn indoors, but have detachable soles that can be slipped into if you want to nip outside. Aesthetically, they have a ScandiJapanese feel, as if they were designed by Mr Ikea and Mrs Muji over dinner. They are soft, comfortable and practical, and would look equally at home in an episode of Cold Feet or a cabin at Soho Farmhouse. In other words, very polite and middle class; my only concern is that perhaps they look a little smug as well as snug.
In a similar vein, but a little less Scandi in appearance, is French brand Armor Lux whose slippers are made from boiled wool and lined in sheepskin with crêpe soles. They are hard to find, easy to wear, but still too rustic for my tastes. As are those by Quoddy — a tad too Hiawatha for Kilburn — and Ugg. Uggh.
Typically, the slippers that have caught my eye are all-too expensive. They look like an everyday suede moccasin — unassuming and discreet, as anything involving feet should be — but are lined with the softest cashmere. I’ve been staring at them on the Loro Piana website. They cost rather a lot and are called Maurice. If your credit card says no to those, and you don’t have polished wood floors, you can always resort to a super-thick sports sock instead, as my sons do. If you think that idea is lacking on the fashion/glamour front, worry not. Vetements — the bonkers, big brand of the moment — has done a ribbed sock collaboration with Reebok (£70). They’ve even printed Left or Right across the toes in case you have a low IQ or a Sunday morning hangover. The fashion world leaves nothing to chance.
‘Hef’s smoking gown with velvet slippers combo is no more. It’s time to move on’ From top: black suede-fur, £565, by Gucci; black/white wool, £40, by Armor Lux; grey suedecashmere, £450, by Loro Piana