No mean feet

Slip­pers have made great strides. Our colum­nist eases into the best

Esquire (UK) - - Style - by Jeremy Lang­mead

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

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