Happy Feet: How Novelty Slippers Took the World | Women’s shoes

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VSIcero, Leonardo da Vinci and Shakespeare all thought the eyes were the windows to the soul, but with all due respect to big dogs, I disagree. These are shoes that tell you everything. Hype sneakers worn with a bland suit; wobbly heels worn in defiance of practicality; scuffed ballet flats; tall hiking boots or polished brogues – shoes hold clues to what you do all day and how you get there, whether you really want to party and who you go home with.

Left to right: sheepskin loafers, £48, The Small Home; sheepskin slip-ons, £117, The Sleeper at net-a-porter.com; two stripe sheepskin slippers, £80, PE. Photograph: David Newby/The Guardian

If you wear used New Balance 550 sneakers from Depop, then I know, and I mean to know, that you take your flat white with vegetable milk (peas, past oats) and that you are considering a tattoo in astrological sign. No offense to these creatives, but you can’t tell by looking into a pair of blue eyes.

But the shoe currently worn by both anyone and everyone is not a “shoe” at all. Right now it’s all about slippers. In two decades of writing about every fashion trend you can imagine, I doubt I’ve ever written about slippers, but this humblest shoe has finally left the fireside and entered the air time.

Two Stripe Sheepskin Slippers, £80, Mou
Two Stripe Sheepskin Slippers, £80, Mou. Photograph: David Newby/The Guardian

For reference, see Jennifer Lopez at LAX dressed in the modern jet-set uniform of oversized oatmeal loungewear and designer sunglasses paired not with Nike or Ugg boots, but slippers with Gucci fur. Or Kendall Jenner’s New Year’s weekend selfies, in North Face Thermoball indoor and outdoor slippers (also called sluffers).

Net-a-Porter taps into the trend with Balenciaga’s creamy recycled faux sheepskin backless mules for £550, while Pangaia’s Jersey Sliders (£70), in a mix of recycled and organic cotton blend, come in a very non-hose and flamingo pink hue slippers. Urban Outfitters, the witty house of retail for Gen Z, has Ugg’s Fluff Yeah Chubby Fur Oversized Slippers (£60) in panther or tie-dye print. Let’s also not forget that Uggs were the shoe of choice for the late great fashion visionary Andre Leon Talley, inside and out.

At first glance, it looks like a world that has given up on fashion for good. Karl Lagerfeld, who thought sweatpants were a sign of letting go of life, must be turning in his grave over how lockdown home comforts have left us with zero tolerance for clothes that aren’t soft and spongy. Once upon a time, models couldn’t get out of bed for less than £10,000; these days, Kendall and co insist on being swaddled in cashmere, sheepskin or down-filled nylon at all times. With Zoom having broken down the fourth wall that once separated our audience from what we wore at home, we’re comfortable being seen in any old thing – as long as it’s comfortable.

Thermoball mules, £45, The North Face
Thermoball mules, £45, The North Face. Photograph: David Newby/The Guardian

But lean a little closer and you see that these slippers are not anti-fashion, but nu-fashion. All of the big shoe trends of the past decade have been filtered into shoes you can wear when your outfit is accessorized with the TV remote rather than an evening bag. Lined shoes? They’ve been around since Phoebe Philo put plush-lined pool sliders on Celine’s catwalk in 2014, honey. Bare back silhouettes? Some of us started wearing them in 2015 when Alessandro Michele created backless loafers in his first Gucci collection. The cult quilted crossover slides of JW Anderson, a longtime front-row favorite, gave us the cartoonish proportions now found in high street ruffled slippers. And what are North Face Thermoballs if not down jackets for your feet? Wear your slippers with pride. Right now, they’re as fashion-forward as feet can get.

Styling: Makeup: Delilah Blakeney with Charlotte Tilbury. Hair: Shukeel Murtaza at Only Agency using Bumble & Bumble. Assistant stylist: Peter Bevan. Models: Kimberley and Trese-San at Mrs Robinson, and Aishwarya at Body London.

Clothes: Top photo, on tiled floor, left to right: marble dress, £229, whistles.com, sheepskin loafers, £48, thesmallhome.co.uk; slip dress from a selection, rag-bone.com, two stripe sheepskin slippers, £80, mou-online.com; animal polka dot skirt, £115, kitristudio.com, sheepskin slip-ons, £117, The Sleeper at net-a-porter.com

Sofa photo, from left: shirt, £85, withnothingunderneath.com, jumper, £125; jigsaw-online.com, jeans, £40, weekday.com, sheepskin loafers, £48, thesmallhome.co.uk; skirt, £279, and top, £179, uk.sandro-paris.com; necklace, £90, mejuri.com, sheepskin slip-ons, £117, The Sleeper at net-a-porter.com; jumper, £165 and track pants, £165, ksubi.uk, blazer, £220, from a selection at samsoe.com, socks, £19, redwinglondon.com; scrunchie, £10, stinegoya.com, two stripe sheepskin slippers, £80, mou-online.com

Photo of stairs: top, £75, baumundpferdgarten.com, slip dress from a selection at rag-bone.com, scrunchie, £15, itsrooper.co.uk, socks, £19.50, falke.com, mules from Thermoball tent, £45, thenorthface.co.uk; animal polka dot skirt, £115, kitristudio.com, cardigan set, £228, thereformation.com; necklace, £180, monicavinader.com; earrings, £85, missoma.com, socks, £7.99 set of two, sockshop.co.uk, beatnik slides, £90, reebok.co.uk

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