It’s time to invest in some comfortable slippers to keep your toes toasty this winter. Not sure whether you need soft-soled Albert slippers, perfect for answering the door to unexpected guests, or sturdy outdoor mules with a non-slip grip? To make it easier for you to choose, we’ve put together a quick guide to everything you need to know about men’s slippers.
Named after Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert, back in the early 1800s, the Albert slipper was designed to be worn with smoking jackets at grand dinner parties. Originally made in velvet or silk, these embroidered or monogrammed slippers protected expensive rugs at the homes of the nation’s gentry.
The most elegant house shoe a gentleman can own, modern Albert slippers are usually made from velvet or leather. With a high back and soft leather sole, they’re the pinnacle of comfort and style for gentlemen who occasionally work from home, or those who host the sort of lavish soirees where smart threads and velvet dinner jackets are de rigueur.
The word moccasin is a generalised term that refers to any kind of hand-sewn, Native American footwear. Traditionally this kind of footwear was made from deer hide and highly decorated in distinctive tribal designs. Different tribes used such different construction techniques that they could be identified by their footwear alone.
These days, moccasin slippers are made from soft suede and feature a distinctive line of puckered stitching above the toe. With padded or lined insoles and a high back, they’re both comfortable and warm during the coldest months of the year. Choose a pair with hard-wearing rubber soles and you’ll be able to nip out for firewood or pick up a newspaper without reaching for your outdoor shoes.
The quickest and easiest slippers to get on and off, the term mule refers to a convenient backless design that is ideal for indoor use. Traced back to 12th Century Vietnam, it’s believed that these backless slippers were originally used to prevent the concubines of a rich sultan from escaping. With very thin, soft soles, the women were unable to escape over the rocky terrain surrounding the harem.
Modern mules, often called bedroom slippers, come in many materials. From terry towelling designs found in hotel bedrooms through to luxury leather, these simple slip ons are an enduring favourite for night-time trips to the bathroom.
The word ‘mule’ is derived from the phrase ‘mulleus calceus’ which described the red or purple slip-on shoes worn by senators in ancient Rome.
Substantially more robust than its indoor cousin, today’s outdoor mule features a slightly raised back and a chunky, hard-wearing sole. Adapted for outdoor use, this slipper is often fleece or fur-lined for warmth and has extremely good traction when it’s slippery or wet. Go for a leather upper and a non-slip rubber sole for easy to wear footwear that’s quick to slip on in a hurry.
Slipper boots were traditionally made from sheepskin and have been worn for at least two millennia. Evidence of their history has been traced back to the Inuit people of the polar region, as well as China, Tibet, Greece and Russia.
Much later, during World War I, they evolved again when Major Lanoe Hawker designed a pair of sheepskin flying boots that were made up for him by Harrods. Known as ‘fug boots’, these warm, thigh-length flying boots became popular with aviators who needed to keep frostbite at bay during missions.
Nowadays these inelegant but snug slipper boots can be found with indoor and outdoor soles. But, unless you’re an Australian surfer warming your toes after a winter dip in the ocean, they’re probably best kept for use at home or in the garden.
There’s nothing wrong with displaying a little personality and humour in your attire, but novelty slippers aren’t usually designed with comfort or style in mind.
A prime example of form over function, the primary objective of novelty slippers is to keep children and pets entertained. With little attention given to practical use, you’ll need to take care not to trip over your own feet if you’re wearing these around the house. If you must wear them, stick to quiet afternoons on the sofa watching Christmas films with the kids or grandkids.
For gentlemen who dislike slippers but require a little more traction than a sock, slipper socks keep your toes warm while preventing you from sliding all over a polished floor.
Lacking in support and unsuitable for anything but indoor use, slipper socks can be uncomfortable to wear. The raised treads press into the soles of your feet as you walk and you’ll need to swap them for normal shoes and socks before you leave the house.
How to choose the best slippers?
Slippers are light, soft shoes for indoor use that are easy to slip on and off. Made from a wide variety of materials including velvet, suede and leather, some slippers have been given a hard-wearing, non-slip, rubber sole to make them suitable for popping out to the log store or wheelie bin.
While some of the more sophisticated styles, like the Albert slipper, were traditionally designed to be worn with evening wear at house parties, most slippers are worn with pyjamas or lounge wear for relaxing at home. To choose the most appropriate pair, think about the purpose for which they’re required.
- If you want your slippers to to fit comfortably like a shoe for all day wear, go for an Albert, a Grecian, or a moccasin style.
- Do you need to step into your slippers quickly, say during the night? Go for mules – unless you’re not very steady on your feet or need to tackle lots of stairs.
- Do you have slippery floors, or do you need to pop outside frequently with bin bags, kids or pets? Opt for an outdoor rubber sole.
- Do your feet get very hot or very cold? Perhaps you’ll need a sheepskin-lined pair for winter and a lighter pair for summer?
Whatever style you require, Samuel Windsor has a beautifully crafted pair of leather or suede slippers to help take the weight off your feet and allow you to relax in comfort. Check out the full infographic below for a quick recap:
Now you know which slipper style you need, check out our range of men’s leather slippers to find the perfect pair. Add this infographic to your website by copying and pasting the following embed code: