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Open-heeled slippers

Slippers are a type of shoes falling under the broader category of light footwear, that are easy to put on and off and are intended to be worn indoors, particularly at home.[1] They provide comfort and protection for the feet when walking indoors.


The recorded history of slippers can be traced back to the 12th century. In the West, the record can only be traced to 1478.[2][3]

Peranakan Chinese wedding slippers from the late 19th century

Slippers in China date from 4700 BCE.[4] They were made of cotton or woven rush, had leather linings, and featured symbols of power, such as dragons.

Native American moccasins were also highly decorative. Such moccasins depicted nature scenes and were embellished with beadwork and fringing, their soft sure-footedness made them suitable for indoors appropriation. Inuit and Aleut people made shoes from smoked hare-hide to protect their feet against the frozen ground inside their homes.[5]

Fashionable Orientalism saw the introduction into the West of designs like the baboosh.

Victorian people needed such shoes to keep the dust and gravel outside their homes.[6] For Victorian ladies slippers gave an opportunity to show off their needlepoint skills and use embroidery as decoration.[7]


Types of slippers include:

  • Open-heel slippers – usually made with a fabric upper layer that encloses the top of the foot and the toes, but leaves the heel open. These are often distributed in expensive hotels, included with the cost of the room.
  • Closed slippers – slippers with a heel guard that prevents the foot from sliding out.
  • Slipper boots – slippers meant to look like boots. Often favored by women, they are typically furry boots with a fleece or soft lining, and a soft rubber sole. Modeled after sheepskin boots, they may be worn outside.
  • Sandal slippers – cushioned sandals with soft rubber or fabric soles, similar to Birkenstock's cushioned sandals.
  • Evening slipper, also known as the "Prince Albert" slipper in reference to Albert, Prince Consort. It is made of velvet with leather soles and features a grosgrain bow or the wearer’s initials embroidered in gold.
Novelty animal-feet slippers

Some slippers are made to resemble something other than a slipper and are sold as a novelty item. The slippers are usually made from soft and colorful materials and may come in the shapes of animals, animal paws, vehicles, cartoon characters, etc.

Not all shoes with a soft fluffy interior are slippers. Any shoe with a rubber sole and laces is a normal outdoor shoe. In India, rubber chappals (flip-flops) are worn as indoor shoes.[8]

In popular culture[edit]

The fictional character Cinderella is said to have worn glass slippers; in modern parlance, they would probably be called glass high heels. This motif was introduced in Charles Perrault's 1697 version of the fairy tale, "Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre" "Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper". For some years it was debated that this detail was a mistranslation and the slippers in the story were instead made of fur (French: vair), but this interpretation has since been discredited by folklorists.[9]

A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz sold at Christie's in June 1988 for $165,000. The same pair was resold on May 24, 2000, for $666,000.[10] On both occasions, they were the most expensive shoes from a film to be sold at auction.[11]

In Hawaii and many islands of The Caribbean, slippers, or "slippahs" is used for describing flip-flops.[12]

The term "house shoes" (elided into how-shuze) is common in the American South.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Definition of slipper Retrieved 2017-09-12
  2. ^ "History of the Slipper". September 10, 2013. Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
  3. ^ "Slipper History". September 9, 2010. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
  4. ^ Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (17 March 2015). World Clothing and Fashion: An Encyclopedia of History, Culture, and Social Influence. Routledge. p. 532. ISBN 978-1-317-45167-9.
  5. ^ "The history of the slipper". Ernest journal. Retrieved 2022-03-30. Inuit and Aleut people would make shoes from smoked hare hide to protect their feet against the frozen ground inside their homes.
  6. ^ "The history of the slipper". Ernest journal. Retrieved 2022-03-30. [...] the discerning Victorian gentleman was in need of a pair of 'house shoes' in order to keep the dust and gravel outside – much better than ruining his expensive rug and beautifully polished floor.
  7. ^ "The history of the slipper". Ernest journal. Retrieved 2022-03-30. Embroidered slippers presented Victorian ladies (on both sides of the Atlantic) with an opportunity to show off their needlepoint skills.
  8. ^ Khanna, Parul (3 October 2009). "Hawai chappal the new fashion accessory!". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 19 June 2016.
  9. ^ Tatar, Maria. The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.
  10. ^ "Ruby red slippers fetch $666,000". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2023-04-11.
  11. ^ "Most expensive shoes from a film sold at auction". Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  12. ^ Kell, Duke; Kell, Nancy (9 August 2022). Teaching with Equity: Strategies and Resources for Building a Culturally Responsive and Race-Conscious Classroom. Simon and Schuster. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-64604-379-8.
  13. ^ Cassidy, Frederic Gomes, and Joan Houston Hall (eds). (2002) Dictionary of American Regional English. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Slippers at Wikimedia Commons
  • The dictionary definition of slipper at Wiktionary