Slippers have been keeping our feet warm and comfy for centuries, but have you ever felt that they could do more? Well you’re not alone…
In this age of modification, even gentlemen’s slippers haven’t escaped the ingenious and sometimes bizarre pimping skills of footwear designers. Take a look at some of the actual patents pending for men’s slippers.
Puppet / slipper combo
There’s a patent pending for a slipper that also functions as a puppet — yes you heard it correctly. If the conversation is boring you or you’re feeling mildly insane, simply put your slippers on your hands and hey presto — you’re the next Rod Hull.
Made with a flexible sole the slipper easily becomes a puppet with a moving mouth. Gimmicks — don’t you just love/hate ‘em!
Do you keep bumping into your furniture at night? Do you have problems seeing around your own house when it’s dark? Well just turn on the lights or a lamp — right?
That’s probably why a patent filed in 2001 for a lighted slipper — that’s a slipper with small ambient lights attached — has expired. An invention needs to solve a problem, but in this case light switches and normal slippers are much better than dark rooms and lighted slippers. Doh!
This patent has already been granted so expect to see this design on sale in underground slipper stores around Halloween. The design is simple and consists of the slipper looking like a skull — the mouth of the skull being the place where you insert your feet.
These skull slippers are sure to steal the show at the Mexican Day of the Dead Festival, but could be a bone of contention in most respectable households.
Shoe / slipper combo
This patent was aimed at women, but the concept of the idea isn’t gender specific, so we’ve included it. It’s basically a slipper inside a shoe.
So you’ve been on a long walk around the city in your shoes and now you want to relax beside a roaring fire. Only you forgot your slippers. No you didn’t! They’re inside your shoes. Wow — this is surely a must-have item for those people that transport their car inside their camper van when they’re on holiday.
Heated vibrating slipper
The proposer of a patent for a heated, vibrating slipper has been left hanging since 2007. If we were to speculate why then it would probably be because there isn’t really enough room in a slipper to house an electric motor and a heat-emitting wire and battery pack.
We’re pretty sure there would also be some serious health and safety issues with a fur-lined slipper housing a heating mechanism. Though what a flaming great training tool for Olympic sprinters — Water!
What could be a better addition to this uneventful world than a musical animal slipper? You’d be the talk of the party with these bad boys on your feet. What’s that noise? Well, it’s my musical slippers that are shaped like puppies.
Actually the 2001 application for a patent hasn’t been granted yet and doesn’t look like it will be either. We’re really sorry about that one, chaps.
We’ve all managed to lose our slippers at some point, but normally, they turn up pretty quickly.
Either the dog took them or someone lovingly tidied them away, but omitted to tell you where they put them.
Here are some slippers that were truly lost only to turn up decades or even centuries later.
When Mahatma Gandhi was gunned down in New Delhi by a Hindu nationalist separatist in January 1948, the new nation of India went into deep mourning. Gone was the ‘great soul’ who through peaceful protest brought about the demise of the Raj and hastened the fall of the British Empire.
When Gandhi fell, some of his few belongings went missing and despite Gandhi’s life of poverty, immediately became very valuable. In 2009 Gandhi’s glasses, pocket watch, plate, bowl and leather slippers came up for auction.
Despite Indian government attempts to stop the sale, the artifacts were won for a ‘staggering’ $1.8million by Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya.
Marie Antoinette’s slippers
Marie Antoinette was Austrian and never particularly popular with the French. On 16th October 1793 they made their feelings crystal clear by chopping off her head. The execution took place two weeks before her 38th birthday but in truth, Marie Antoinette was already a very sick lady, suffering from tuberculosis and perhaps uterine cancer too.
Added to this, she was in deep mourning for the loss in the same fashion of her husband, Louis XVI. She must, truly have cut a tragic figure as she was wheeled through the streets of Paris to be Guillotined.
Belongings of the the former Queen came up for sale at an auction last year, the day after the anniversary of her death. A pair of her slippers – green and pink silk – sold for €50,000 – five times the estimate.
Our next pair of lost slippers turned up in a trunk of old clothes at the University of Aberdeen. Marked, ‘Pauline, Rome’. They turned out to have belonged to Princess Pauline Borghese, the petite, younger sister of none other than Napoleon Bonaparte.
A child’s size two and very narrow, the slippers reflect the diminutive size of their former wearer. Pauline was so small in fact that she often preferred to be carried from room to room rather than walk.
Infamously unfaithful to her husband, the shoes were gifted to the museum by 19th century traveller, Robert Wilson who got to know her in the 1820s.
Only four pairs of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the 1939 film Wizard of Oz are known to have survived. So when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences got the chance to buy a pair, they jumped at it.
They’re refusing to say how much they paid for the pair of Judy Garland’s sequin clad slip-ons.
The purchase for the Academy’s museum was funded by among others, Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg. One of the other pairs is in the Smithsonian Museum, another is in private hands and the last was stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota.
A good investment or a slip up?
Slippers don’t have to be long lost to be worth a small fortune. Way back in 2001, a pair of slippers belonging to British artist, Tracey Emin made £5,500 at a charity auction.
The items are hand embroidered by the artist herself, perhaps as she lay propped up on her unmade bed.
As to whether the slippers will still be worth anything in the long term is anyone’s guess – but a pair of slippers, embroidered by a famous person or not – always comes in handy.
There was a rumour that the last pope, Benedict XVI wore Prada.
No matter how swanky his bright red fine leather slippers looked, the truth is they were made not by the fashion house famously favoured by the devil.
The Pope’s personal cobbler made the shoes, and what fine slip-ons they are.
Pope John Paul II
Andriano Stefanelli is the man who made it his business to make sure the pope’s feet were well shod. It’s a task he had undertaken since 2002 when prompted by Pope John Paul II’s illness, he resolved to do what he could to make the then pontiff more comfortable.
It was he who fashioned the red leather slippers we are so used to seeing adorning the feet of the leader of the Catholic church.
The shoes – loafers – are made from the finest nappa leather. Although the papal shoes are traditionally ruby red, Pope John Paul II had discarded the brightly coloured shoes in favour of more reserved cordovan brown walking shoes.
The slip ons made by Stefanelli for the ailing pope were also cordovan brown – a deep burgundy named after the town of Cordova in Spain.
Pope Benedict XVI
When Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in 2004, he revived the practice of wearing bright red slip ons, and Stefanelli was again the man of the moment. He managed to present the Pope with a pair of his spectacular ruby creations during a public audience in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome in September 2005.
This not only put paid to the rumours that the Pope’s shoes came from Prada, but presumably gave a welcome boost to Stefanelli’s business too.
Andriano Stefanelli may not have been motivated entirely by the obvious kudos that comes from being able to say you’re the Pope’s shoemaker. A staunch Catholic, he has said that he finds the business of making the Pope’s shoes, a deeply spiritual one.
However, he also made shoes for George W Bush and more recently for Barack Obama. One wonders whether he had the same spiritual uplift while making the presidential footwear.
Pope Francis I
A shoe maker since the age of 14, Andriano produces his hand made leather loafers at the family workshop in Novara near Milan. But whether he continues to be supplier of shoes and slippers to the pope is now in some considerable doubt.
Following Pope Benedict’s surprise resignation earlier this year, and the subsequent election of Pope Francis I, there have already been a few changes at the Vatican. Formerly known as Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, the new pope is Jesuit with a passion for the simple life.
Well known as an advocate for the poor, he said his first papal mass wearing plain black shoes. The shoes were apparently re-soled for him by friends before he journeyed to Rome for the Cardinals’ enclave because his shoes were so shabby looking.
Could it be then that the new guardian of souls is an ordinary soul who prefers soles more ordinary?
How many times have you heard someone say there are certain things real men just don’t do?
Chances are that there are some male stereotypes that we take for granted. But on closer inspection most are a load of old nonsense.
While we’re not in favour of live at home Mummy’s boys, we’re keen to fight the male corner when it comes to some daft male no nos.
“The only mens slipper wearers allowed to get away with keeping their feet warm are the elderly and infirm, children and wimps.”
For the rest of us spartan bastians of masculinity, the wearing of cosy slippers is a step in the wrong direction. Right?
Wrong. Her Majesty’s forces take foot care extremely seriously and so should you. So concerned about the plight of military feet was one Captain Cecil Webb-Johnson, that in 1916 he published the Soldier’s Manual of Footwear and Footcare – an exhaustive guide to looking after your feet. Decent feet make for a capable man – why else would we have Churchill slippers?
“You wear a vest? And you call yourself a man?”
If anyone ever spouts such nonsense at your sensible, vest clad self, simply look them in the eye and quote this: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather – only unsuitable clothing.’
These wise words are attributed to Alfred Wainwright, 1907 – 1991. He spent much of his life wandering and documenting the wonders of the English Lake District. His books on the subject are the standard reference resource for visitors to the Lakes.
Wainwright is also responsible for coming up with the famous coast to coast walking route beginning at St Bees in Cumbria and ending at Robin Hood’s Bay. It’s hard to imagine a man such as this venturing anywhere without his vest on.
“British men don’t cry.”
Hard to argue with this. Although famous men do occasionally weep in public – most of them seem to be American. For a Brit to break down takes something a little bit special – and quite rightly too. Our reputation for having a stiff upper lip is one to cherish – but not to the point of stupidity.
Last year’s London Olympics were so full of weeping at the rostrum, that the event was dubbed the crying games. Cyclist Chris Hoy – was one of the highest profile Brits ever to have blubbed in public. If he can do it – so can you, so go ahead – weep if you must. Just don’t make a habit of it.
“Men don’t do housework?”
Get real. Of course they do – but a word of advice. Be careful not to do too much. A recent study by the American Sociological Review found that men who do more tasks traditionally seen as female – like laundry, cooking and cleaning – get less sex than men who do more masculine tasks about the house.
By all means clean up after yourself and help out – just make sure you’re seen to put up the shelves, fix the car and sweep up the leaves. Do too much of the housework and – well – it’s your bed, and you’ll have to lie in it.
“When it comes to men and makeup, most men would say, ‘over my dead body’.”
That’s quite an apt statement considering the undertaker’s propensity to apply a touch of blusher to a ropey looking corpse. But is it acceptable these days for a man to wear makeup?
While we may instinctively say – no – the evidence tells a different story. Not convinced? Type ‘male cosmetics’ into an internet browser and what comes up is a plethora of products.
From concealer to skin creams and eyeliner – men are already wearing make up. They just don’t talk about it.
When it comes to slippers, clearly some are better than others.
The materials used, the fit, the type of sole; all factors that contribute to the quality and price of the finished item.
But some slippers stand out from the crowd. Here is our pick of the best slippers ever:
They’ve been called shoes but to all intents they’re slippers – and at 5,500 years old, the oldest ever found to boot. These Armenian slippers have been described as incredibly modern in their construction and styling. Each one is constructed from a single piece of leather.
It’s thought the owner would have first worn them wet so the skins would could mould themselves to their feet. They’re a modern women’s size seven – but not enough is known about early Armenian feet to say whether they were ladies or mens slippers.
Best Ballet Slippers
When Margot Fonteyn first danced with Rudolph Nureyev, in 1962, she was already 42 years old and contemplating retirement. But such was the chemistry between the dancers that she delayed her exit from performance by another 17 years. It was one of the most remarkable partnerships ever to exist in the ballet world.
Fonteyn was 60 years old when she took to the stage for the last time, performing ‘Le Spectre de la Rose’ with Nureyev. When a pair of Margot’s ballet slippers went to auction last year, they were expected to raise £12,000 – proof positive of the enduring appeal of this most gifted of ballerinas.
Most Famous Slippers
The most famous slippers of the silver screen must surely be those worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film, the Wizard of Oz. Made from red satin and covered in glittering red sequins, the centre bows were edged in red glass beads and crystals. The original screenplay featured silver slippers, but this was changed to red to make more of an on-screen splash.
Incidentally, in real life, the shoes are actually a wine coloured dark red – made that way by costume designer, Adrian Greenberg so that they’d appear bright scarlet in technicolor. British film buffs were recently treated to an opportunity to view the slippers as part of an exhibition at the V&A museum in London. The shoes, on loan from the Smithsonian in New York are one of only four pairs thought to have survived.
The warmest slippers in the world are the mukluks worn by traditional Inuit communities of the far North. Clothes made from caribou skins are considered essential for winter sleigh rides.
We live in a society that often presumes that modern synthetic materials are best. However, under laboratory testing, caribou fur performed better than both expedition and military clothing for both warmth and comfort.
So what’s so special about caribou hair? It’s the original and best hollow fiber. If you’re planning to head North of the arctic circle, best get yourself some mukluks.
Most expensive slippers
Amazingly, the world’s most expensive slippers are the same ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz. Well – nearly. To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of MGM’s iconic movie, the slippers were remade by New York jewellers, Harry Winston’s.
But instead of sequins and glass beads, the slippers were covered with real rubies and edged with diamonds. They took two months to make and are worth a whopping $3 million.
For all their magnificence though, we suspect wearing these slippers would be a dead loss for watching TV. The glare would be blinding!
Most respected slippers
Britain’s greatest wartime leader didn’t usually get out of bed until most of us have finished our morning coffee. But Winston Churchill wasn’t napping. He’d wake at 7:30 am, consume a hearty breakfast, open his mail, read all the national papers and dictate letters. Then after a wallow in the bath, he’d dress, make himself a whisky soda and go to his study.
Churchill’s predilection for bed, bath and booze wouldn’t go down well in today’s high pressure political rat race, but considering his achievements, it obviously helped him think. As well as being an inspirational leader, Churchill was the 1953 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The prize was awarded; “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values”.
Whatever happened to the nine to five grind? UK workers are increasingly swapping brogues for slippers, and a lunchtime stroll into town for an afternoon nap. It’s estimated that five and a half million British households now contain at least one home worker.
Technologies that enable us to work from any location have freed us to lounge in ladies pajamas or men’s leather slippers as we work. But in truth, home working is nothing new – and neither is the afternoon nap that goes with it.
The Tudor bedchamber
Henry the VIII held court from his bedchamber. The members of his privy council were a household within a household. Those in closest literal proximity to the monarch had his ear and wielded great political power.
This hadn’t always been the case – servants whose tasks were to see to the King’s intimate arrangements used to be just that – servants. But Henry politicised the role by staffing his bedchamber with his own friends and allies. The Privy Council still exists in the UK – but only meets in full when a monarch dies or marries.
Treasure Island is arguably the greatest pirate story ever written – and its author Robert Louis Stevenson penned it in bed. Like a great many people of his time, he suffered from tuberculosis and only survived into his early forties.
The disease kept him in bed for long periods of time, but physical confinement cannot cage the mind. Stephenson said that the inspiration for one of his other great works; Jekyll and Hyde, came to him in a dream.
No mention of habitual men’s slipper wearers would be complete without mention of Hugh Hefner. The silk pyjama clad, regally slippered octogenarian rarely puts the comfort of his nightclothes aside.
Whether or not you approve of his lifestyle, Hefner is certainly a character and a gifted entrepreneur. At it’s peak in the 1970s, Playboy magazine was selling over 7 million copies per issue. Hefner ran his empire from his super sized, circular, rotating bed.
Some of the greatest minds of recent times had a penchant for a comfy pair of slippers and a daytime nap.
Our greatest wartime leader, Winston Churchill was a great believer in staying in bed to read the papers, and dictate letters. Once he’d got up though, it wasn’t long until he was back in bed. From two in the afternoon, Churchill enjoyed a long nap, claiming that it was essential to health and wellbeing.
It’s hard to imagine a modern prime minister getting away with a similar daily routine. But as well as being a top politician, Churchill was a prodigious writer and winner of the 1953 Nobel Prize for fiction. For a slipper wearer he was no slouch.
Several US presidents have swapped their shirt and tie for PJs and slippers – at least for part of their day. JFK, slept for two hours every afternoon, Lyndon Johnson was a napper and so too was Ronald Reagan.
Perhaps the last of the great slipper wearing nappers, much fun was made of Reagan’s habit of daytime snoozing. But the veteran film star had an excellent sense of humour. On leaving office, he’s said to have remarked that his cabinet chair should be inscribed with the words, ‘President Reagan slept here.’
It’s no wonder that Salvador Dali’s greatest works were dreamscapes. He practised a technique known as ‘hypnogogic napping’, or ‘slumber with a key’. So how does it work? Simply sit on a chair holding in one hand, between thumb and forefinger, a key. Place on the floor directly below your hand, an upside down metal plate. Now close your eyes and allow yourself to drift.
In the instant that you nod off, you’ll drop the key. The loud clang as it hits the plate will wake you. Dali used the hallucinatory visions experienced during this moment of pre-sleep, to inspire his strange, other worldly compositions. A slipper wearer not to be caught napping.
Most ladies know, the shoes you choose reveal your personality and purpose.
So it’s important not to be caught off guard. Like when you’re relaxed at home and not dressing to impress — so ask yourself, are your ladies slippers a little too revealing?
It may be that your inner wild animal is screaming to be released, but some men may see things differently. Floppy-eared bunny slippers will have some men running faster than … well, bunnies being chased by cougars. Just keep an eye on that inner child.
Cosy, feminine and pleasing on the eye, the Helen slipper is a popular choice for ladies and a hard one for men to determine any personality traits. It’s a steady, balanced choice that won’t disappoint with any unexpected breakdowns.
Mules glide and loaf around the house and are recognised as the cool cat of the slipper world. If you’re relaxed and easy going and prefer to effortlessly slip in and out of situations, then mules will send out the right messages to special guests.
It doesn’t take a PHD in slipper mechanics to determine that wearers of these beauties love those little comforts like feeling snug! Fleece lined from little toe to ankle, bootees are for ladies that give off a welcoming warmth and don’t mind getting
Ballerina style slippers
Delicately feminine, petite and elegant, ballerina style slippers are perfect for all those English roses out there. They have even been known to reduce big, burly men to soft, adoring puppies (not literally of course).
Equally at ease whether indoors or outdoors, moccasins are flexible enough to deal with most of life’s trials and tribulations. Secure and confident with their own bohemian style, their good looks will impress both men and women.
From a health and safety perspective, glass slippers are a risky choice for relaxation. It’s also time to step out of the fairytale as a pumpkin carriage isn’t going to rescue you from your delusional state even if it is the pantomime season.
The last thing you’d wear to a building site would be a pair of soft slippers.
But research shows that in some situations, our most comfy slip ons are every bit as good as safety boots. Where? In hospital.
Concerned about the number of injuries to patients caused by falls, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust decided to issue slippers to emergency patients. In the three months before the slipper give away, the Trust recorded 64 falls. In the following quarter, that figure fell to 46 – a tumble of some 28 percent.
Considering the cost of treatment for injuries caused by falls, the £6 cost of each pair of slippers seems a small price to pay (Source: BBC News).
As with any safety equipment, badly maintained, worn out or ill fitting protective footwear is a liability. While a pair of old slippers may be favourite for your feet, research shows that people wearing sloppy slippers are much more likely to fall over.
In fact for the elderly, a well maintained pair of house shoes could cut the risk of a tumble by up to 60 percent (Source: Guardian).
Not just slippers
Slippers aren’t the only footwear saviours. Farmer, Simon Mabin had a lucky escape when an overhead pylon collapsed and the live wires landed on his tractor. A 50,000 volt electric shock is more than enough to turn a man to toast. Sparks flew and the tyres exploded, but Mabin survived with just minor injuries.
A spokesman from the Westcountry Ambulance service explained that it was the thick rubber soles on Mr Mabin’s wellington boots that saved his life (Source: Daily Mail).
Three year old Harley Sutton-Dormer had the shock of his life when he grabbed hold of a faulty hairdryer in the swimming pool changing rooms. A bolt of electricity shot down his arm and out of the side of his body, causing a burn the size of a five pence piece.
Paramedics explained that the foam resin crocs the boy was wearing insulated him from the floor and probably saved his life (Source: Telegraph).
An Italian couple holidaying on the Devon coast almost met a soggy end when they were cut off by the tide. It wasn’t their shoes that saved them – it was Boots. Oberdan and Patrizia Cosimi, from Pisa didn’t know the number to dial to summon the emergency services. In desperation they rummaged around and found an old receipt from Boots the Chemist, and called the number on the back.
At first, dispenser Pat Askwith wasn’t sure whether she might be dealing with a hoax. But it was soon clear that the foreign callers really were in trouble. Pat dialled 999 and the pair, along with their dog were rescued by Sea King helicopter (Source: Guardian).
What have cheese toasties and men’s slippers got in common? Why would you need a shoe to finish your meal? Which fish is named after a Roman flip flop?
If you have spent sleepless nights pondering these questions, never fear, for we have the answers. And if you have never worried about such matters, take heart in the knowledge that they might one day crop up in your local pub quiz.
Oh, the ciabatta, mistress of all things toasty and slightly Mediterraneany. The long, flat Italian loaf which forms the perfect base for those naughty, gooey panini that tempt you away from your usual cheese and pickle.
But did you know that ‘ciabatta’ is Italian for ‘slipper’! Why? – you may ask. Well, it (ahem) clearly looks like a slipper, doesn’t it?
‘Doing the little shoe’
Another Italian foodie phrase for you. ‘Fare la scarpetta’ or ‘to do the little shoe’ means using bread to mop up those lovely bits of sauce left on your plate at the end of a meal.
Why a hunk of bread resembles a little shoe is matter for debate. But you don’t need to go there. And while it’s not exactly elegant behaviour in Italy, it’s authentic, it’s old-school and it’s bloomin’ lovely.
The tasty sole is an unfortunate creature. If being skew-whiff in the facial department and rather on the thin side weren’t enough of a burden, this poor fishy has a rather unglamorous name.
And no, you’ve guessed wrongly. It’s not named after the sole of your foot, although you’re getting warm. It gets its name from the Latin ‘solea’ – a type of Roman flip flop!
A heeltap is the name for a ‘lift’ or extra bit added to the heel of a shoe to give the wearer extra height. Think Simon Cowell, Tom Cruise and Nicolas Sarkozy and you’ll be on the right lines.
It’s also an old English name for the dregs at the bottom of your drink. If you don’t fully sink your pint or drain your wine you’re guilty of leaving a heeltap!
Choux is the French spelling of the English ‘shoe’. The French named this delightful pastry after the dainty shoes worn by Elizabeth I on her trip to France in … No. Sorry. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Choux has nothing whatsoever to do with footwear. It actually means cabbage. Confused? So are we. Never mind. Any excuse to look at pictures of profiteroles.