Pimp my slippers — patents pending

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

Puppet slippers

Image source: Yastremska
You could be the next Rod Hull, thanks to your slippers

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!

Lighted slipper

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!

Skull slippers

Skull Slippers

Image source: Maxoidos
Just what you want on your feet

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

Warm slippers

Image source: oocoskun
This is so early 2000s. Where is the electric motor and heat-emitting wire and battery pack?

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!

Musical Slipper

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.

Living shoes: the future has sole

Imagine the perfect shoe. It conforms to every ridge and contour of your foot. No blisters, no soreness, no pressure points; light, flexible footwear that breathes.

These perfect shoes mend themselves, adapt to the terrain and offer dynamic, real time support for every part of your foot.

Science fiction? The new science of ‘protocells’, and cutting edge design, mean the footwear of the future are just a step away.

Leap forward

The amoeba surface adapting trainer

The amoeba surface adapting trainer
Source: This is alive

Take some scientists, some of the most cutting edge designers in the world, and what emerges is a shoe unlike any seen before. Enter the Amoeba Surface Adapting Trainer.

3D printed biotechnology creates a shoe fashioned from ‘protocells’. A second skin for your foot made of semi-living material; cells that divide and multiply to repair themselves, adding support where needed.

And when you get home, instead of kicking your shoes off inside the front door – you feed them by placing them in a tank of nutrient rich chemicals.

Vital signs

Alive or dead?

Image source: Z I B I
Protocells blur the distinction between alive and not-alive

The distinction between animate and inanimate used to be clear. A cat is alive, a table is not.

But now scientists searching for the origins of life have discovered that the journey from the primordial ooze to the complex organisms and ecosystems of our world, is less clear than previously thought. The result: living shoes.

From a salty soup

Martin Hanczyc created protocells in a laboratory

Martin Hanczyc created protocells in a laboratory
Source: Trans961

It takes three things to make a cell: a body, a metabolism and some inheritable information. Simply mix, add energy and you have the stuff of life.

A single living cell can contain around 1,000,000 molecules – but to create a structure that looks and behaves like a basic cell takes as few as ten.

Scientist, Martin Hanczyc has succeeded in creating synthetic structures called protocells, groups of molecules that self assemble, move, replicate and consume energy to maintain themselves.

The origins of life on earth? Perhaps. Not living entities, but life-like structures that can be programmed to behave in specific ways.

Future shoes

The brain behind the incredible Amoeba shoe is Shamees Aden. She studied Textile Futures at the prestigious Central St Martins College, London.

The course encourages students to engage with cutting edge research to create concepts for the products of the future. Interacting with Martin Hanczyc’s findings, Shamees created a range of footwear that makes leather shoes look positively prehistoric.

And that’s not all. The ability to control DNA means that in future, engineers will be able to control semi-living material in the same way that software engineers write apps today.

Think strawberry plants that grow lace from their roots – even edible solar cells – we’ll be limited only by our imaginations.

If this sounds like pseudoscience, think again. Textiles Futures at St Martins has already worked in collaboration with the Medical Research Council, Nissan and the VF Corporation, owner of brands like North Face, Vans and Wrangler. The future is alive with possibility.

Famous potatoes that escaped the peeler

You fry them, mash them, boil them and bake them, but what about the ones that escaped the potato peeler?

Well some became celebrities. And here is our list of the most famous potato inspired characters of all time.

Mr Potato Head

Mr Potato head with box

The Godfather of Potatoes
Source: Talking Points

D.O.B: 01/05/1952

Type: King Edward Potato

Bio: Since the 1950s, this witty no-nonsense spud has been pulling more shapes than a disco dancing packet of crisps. His role in the Toy Story trilogy turned him into a Hollywood star, but this hasn’t changed him. He still loves Mrs Potato Head and is prone to throwing body parts when annoyed.

Mrs Potato Head

Mrs Potato head on black background

Mr Potato Head’s better half
Source: Puzzle-Games

D.O.B: She won’t tell anyone

Type: Sweet Potato

Bio: Whether she is keeping her husband in check or looking for her lost eye, she has the same short temper as Mr Potato Head. Not quite as old as her hubby, she is perhaps the most well known female potato in the world. And like her husband, has Toy Story to thank for her Hollywood fame.

Spud

Spud from Trainspotting

He looks like a naughty Spud
Source: Ford on Film

D.O.B: Unknown

Type: Beer Battered Chip

Bio: Spud is one of those lovable idiots. With a thick Scottish accent and a rather odd interview technique, this tattie spends his Edinburgh days wasting his life away. Often seen with pals, Renton, Begbie and Sick Boy when not being detained at her majesty’s pleasure.

Mr Chips

Mr Chips from Catchphrase

Say what you see…
Source: Digital Spy

D.O.B: 1986

Type: Unknown

Bio: The talented and instantly recognisable mime potato/robot of classic TV show, Catchphrase. He may have been the sidekick to Roy Walker (and more recently Stephen Mulhern), but Mr. Chips always steals the show with his animated antics. Remember “Say what you see, if you see it, say it!”

Bodger and Badger

Type: N/A

Bio: Not actually a spud, but they make the list for their infamous, and slightly unhealthy love of mash potato. Badger, was a notorious troublemaker, often seen hurling balls of mash at his human co-stars, much to the joy of children of the 90s who see them as cult heroes.

Can you think of famous potatoes or spud based characters we may have neglected?

Mens trousers you should never wear

So, you’ve got some jeans and some smart trousers and maybe a pair of jogging bottoms or two — but it feels like there’s room for something new in your wardrobe.

Somebody might have inspired you to go for something a bit alternative and daring, but this is where you need to pull back and go easy. There are some men’s trousers you should never wear.

Chaps

Chaps: Only if your Clint Eastwood

Chaps: Only if your Clint Eastwood
Source: IOPhoto

Clint Eastwood and John Wayne are two of the toughest, meanest cowboys to grace our screens and it’s hard not to be inspired by the gun-swirling, horse-riding outlaws in their chaps.

But hold it right there, Mister!

Step down from the horse, which you don’t own, get back in your house, which isn’t in the Western Frontier and take off those chaps unless you’re a cowboy.

If you walk around 21st Century Britain in chaps, people will simply think you’re on a gay fancy dress outing (which you might be, in which case: enjoy!).

PVC

Iggy Pop

Image source: Northfoto BP
Iggy Pop

Bare-chested and clad in tight and transparent PVC trousers, Iggy Pop is the Peter Pan of the rock world. With his trademark Lust for Life, he continues to fire out the hits and moves.

But before you listen to his CD and recall how good he looks (in a man to man kind of way) in those transparent PVC trousers: just don’t go there.

Iggy Pop is not a man who can be imitated. You would probably turn heads, but not in a good way.

Lycra

After the 2012 London Olympics, once-fringe sports like cycling and gymnastics have suddenly become mainstream. Armchair fans have been inspired to have a go — their first stop being to buy some sporty men’s trousers.

But slow down there.

Lycra trousers may look good on toned athletes like Louis Smith and Mark Cavendish, but they’re the professionals. Just beware of how tight you go with your trousers — tightness may protect you against physical injury, but not massive embarrassment.

Imagine if your boss or your dad saw you doing squat thrusts in the park…

Skin-tight red jeans

Since One Direction first appeared on the X Factor, a boy band renaissance has been sweeping the UK music scene. These young men own quite an impressive range of men’s trousers.

Their skin-tight jeans in shades of bright red are proving very popular with fans.

But before you go raiding your sister’s wardrobe for tiny jeans and start to cut off the blood supply to your legs, you’ll need to know something:

If you’re a teenager and in a boy band, you can get away with wearing most things. If you’re not, you will end up looking stupid and struggling to walk.

Snakeskin

Men of the desert, bounty hunters and eccentric poker players are the type of men that wear snakeskin trousers.

These men could track a guinea pig through the bush faster than it takes you to make a microwave dinner.

Cork-dangling headwear and snakeskin trousers is not a good look in the middle of Wigan. You’re much better off playing it safe when shopping for new men’s trousers.

The Barking Dog Alarm and Other Clever Deterrents

Beware of the dog sign

Perhaps not quite the right thing…
Source: Popscreen

Protecting ourselves and our most valuable possessions is an important issue we should all consider. With that in mind, here are a few barking mad deterrents you might not have come across.

The Barking Dog Alarm
They bark yap and snarl and are a great deterrent for intruders, but not everyone wants a dog. Well with a motion sensor barking dog alarm you can have security, without the cost…or mess. Burglars (and the Postman) won’t know the difference.

Barking Dog Alarm

All the bark with no bite

Easy Pickings
Filling an old wallet with fake cards and scrap paper is a great way to fool thieves who break into your home. The same thing applies to broken laptops and phones, which you can ‘carelessly’ leave lying around the house. Fake loot can often save the real treasure.

Old brown wallet

‘Oh look a wallet I can steal…’
Source: Peter Bjorn and John

Dummy Security Camera
Security cameras are a great deterrent but can be expensive and complicated to install. A dummy camera on the other hand keeps thieves away at a fraction of the cost and bother. Smart.

Dummy Security Camera

Instant 1984 security

Lime in your Beer
It’s a scorcher of a day and you’re relaxing peacefully, until a pesky fly starts buzzing in your ear. Well don’t let it go for a swim in your cerveza, just pop in a lime, recline and sip at ease. Safe in the knowledge that there are only bubbles, not buzz, in your beer.

Sol with lime in top

Fend off those fiendish flies
Source:Horse and Country

The Clever Gecko
But how do you keep yourself safe from pesky flies and mosquitoes? Obvious solutions like mosquito repellents and long sleeves aren’t always enough. In Senggigi on the Indonesian island of Lombok, the locals get fake tattoos of geckos to fend off pesky insects.

Gecko tattoo

If tattoos could talk this would say yum yum
Source: Tattoo Stage

Too drastic? Well for a range of more conventional security gadgets like motion sensor solar entrance lights, dummy cameras and the ingenious barking dog alarm, visit the Clifford James website.

Famous slippers lost and found

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.

Gandhi’s slippers

Gandhi

Image source: Wikimedia
His artefacts and slippers sold for $1.8 million

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.

Napoleon’s sister

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.

Ruby slippers

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.

The Pope’s leather slippers and other priestly footwear

Pope's slippers

Image source: Anthony Majanlahti
Mistaken for a pair of Pradas

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?

The Wrong Trousers

As Wallace and Grommit discovered, wearing the ‘wrong trousers’ can be more than a fashion faux pas. But it appears young men continue to ignore this cautionary trouser tale.

Mens trousers have come on leaps and bounds, and we’re eager to embrace coloured chinos and skinnier fits with open arms (or rather, legs). We do, however, draw the line at some of these…

Red trousers

Image source: TK Link
Trousers bad enough to start a riot

Tartan trousers

Image source: James Creegan
Fashion icon

Skiing

Image source: Ruth Hartnup
I don’t care if you’re skiing, there’s never an excuse for these…

Oh dear

Image source: Scott Davies
Spotted on the streets of Perth… oh… dear…

Why my Dad has a halogen oven

Halogen technology has been around for some time, but now it looks set to take the cooking world by storm.

That’s because halogen ovens are effective, efficient and most importantly, cook super tasty meals fast. All good reasons why my dad swears by, rather than at his.

Clifford James halogen oven

Halogen oven
Source: Clifford James

Dad has never been much of a one for cooking, so when Mum had a hip replacement last year, we assumed we’d be responsible for feeding the invalid.

But as it turned out, Dad had done his homework. Instead of us making the thirty minute journey to their home, carrying pot roasts to keep my parents alive, my husband and I found ourselves invited to dinner.

Great for entertaining the family

“This,” said dad, patting the lid of a space age device on the kitchen counter, “will now cook our dinner in under forty minutes.”

Well fine, I thought – if it’s a vegetable stew – we might just escape unscathed. I was far more sceptical when my septuagenarian father opened the fridge and took out a raw chicken.

Mum hobbled forward to take a look but was brusquely waved away as Dad filled the bowl around the chicken, with potatoes and carrots.

“Right. Stand back everyone.”

Anyone would think he was a test pilot about to take to the skies, but as he turned the ‘machine’ on, we all craned our necks to take a look.

What followed was a revelation. As Dad told us later – several times – though a halogen oven has a similar power rating to a normal oven or microwave, it has distinct advantages over both. It’s much faster than a conventional oven.

The halogen bulb in the lid produces instant heat and a fan circulates it as high speed, ensuring an even temperature throughout.

The chicken really was cooked in less than forty minutes and it, along with the roast potatoes, was crispy to boot. Not at all like the insipid results you tend to get from microwave cookery.

Ideal for roast dinners

And the results? I admit, my first taste was tentative, but the food really was delicious – moist and tender chicken and perfectly cooked vegetables. But that wasn’t the only surprise Dad had in store.

No sooner had we put down our knives and forks than he was off to ‘bung a pudding in the oven’. Five minutes later and our pre-prepared sticky toffee pudding was ready.

Perfect for puddings

After dinner, the oven bowl went in the dishwasher and that was that.

Mum is well and truly back on her feet now and Dad has once again been banished from the kitchen, but the halogen oven story didn’t end there. Mum is a complete convert – the halogen oven defrosts, bakes, roasts, steams and even fries – and she finds it so much easier to use than the conventional oven.

The halogen oven’s clear bowl means she can see exactly how the food is coming along and she doesn’t have to bend down to open the oven door.

A halogen oven is a fraction of the cost of a conventional oven and needless to say – it’s a case of like father like daughter because I now have one too!

Mens trousers James Bond would never wear

Daniel Craig

Image source: Piotr Zajac
The name’s ‘Bond’… ‘James Bond’.

James Bond has never been more stylish than he is today. His suit selections in Skyfall really were top notch.

It’s a pity the British public doesn’t always live up to the high standard set by our favourite fictional spy. Here to help you avoid a fashion faux pas, is our guide to trousers for men that James Bond would (mostly) never wear.

Red trousers

The much maligned choice of the British upper crust. Red trousers have never been more popular with certain sections of society. Fleshy faced, round middled, braying toffs love them. We wonder why?

James Bond would never wear something so brash, so bawdy, so silly. If you have a tendency to wear red – or worse – pink trousers – you need to buck up. Bond wouldn’t give you the time of day.

Leather trousers

Leather is for shoes, belts and gloves for assassins with a licence to kill. Unless your name is Slash, we suggest you refrain from draping your legs with dead cow. As far as James Bond goes, the creak of tanned hide would rule out a stealthy approach.

As far as you’re concerned, leather trousers make you look like an ageing metal enthusiast, with all of the vices but none of the talent of an actual rocker. If you’re a cowboy – please ignore this tirade.

Gangster hipsters

The current trend for bottom revealing hipsters originates in America. Death row inmates have their belts removed so they can’t top themselves, so they have little choice but to wear their trousers slung low.

The same can not be said for the cool kids who seek to imitate such criminal fashion. James Bond in hipsters? Don’t be daft.

Tracksuit bottoms

The clue to their purpose lies in the name. Tracksuit. For wearing at the track (running, not dog). The current trend for grown men wandering the streets looking like they just got out of bed is alarming to say the least.

James Bond would be appalled. Is he risking life and limb in the service of his country so that you can limp about the place looking sloppy? If you wear a tracksuit, either go for a run, or go and get changed.

Lycra Shorts

James Bond takes his fitness seriously. So should you. He wouldn’t think twice about donning a bit of lycra if appropriate. In this case, the tables are turned.

We’re not saying don’t wear lycra – but before you pull on the stretchy stuff, ask yourself the following question. Do I have the sort of physique that turns heads…or the sort that turns stomachs?