Now that house shoes have become our everyday footwear while working from home, it’s important to choose the right pair to get enough support
When the first lockdown hit, many of us swapped our outdoor shoes for slippers, and over a year later, our WFH uniforms haven’t changed all that much. The slippers we thought we’d be wearing for a few weeks of remote working became our everyday shoes, but now we’re starting to see some of the adverse effects on our feet.
“A lot of people are staying at home because of the way the pandemic has panned out, and we’re seeing issues with that,” says podiatrist Kelly Duke of the Aalba Footcare Clinic in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim. “People were reluctant to get back into harder shoes because they’ve been living in slippers for so long.”
If you’re spending all day at home in your slippers, it’s crucial to choose a structured, supportive and cosy pair. When shopping, “treat it like a shoe”, advises Constance Corry, SCPI-registered podiatrist with Spectrum Health.
“Slippers are a huge fall risk and people wear slippers more than they think they do — people treat slippers as if they’re this little frivolous item they’re wearing for five minutes, but actually nowadays, people are spending most of the day in them and it’s worth choosing a good pair.
“Treat it like something you’re going to be walking in, because you do more walking inside the house than you realise.”
She adds that the fall risk comes from people worrying that their slipper will come off while they step over obstacles, so she recommends a full slipper with a high back or Velcro strap to ensure they hold on around the ankle.
“If you can’t point your toe downwards without the slipper coming off easily, you need to avoid it,” says Constance. A good budget option, she notes, is the strap slippers from Dunnes Stores (€15), which feature arch support and an adhesive fastening.
How can you tell if it’s time to buy a new pair? If the slipper has become baggy around the heel or toes, that’s a clear sign, but you can’t always see the wear from the outside.
“Slippers break down in no time. They look fine, but if you put your hand into them, they’ll have lost all cushioning. You need to replace them at least every six months,” says Constance.
Sizing is crucial, says Theresa McGinn, chartered physiotherapist at the Kilkenny Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic.
“The main thing to consider if you’re buying slippers would be that you go into the shop, try them on and get a good fit. Stick with something narrow that fits in around your feet, especially around the heel, not just the front of the foot,” she says.
“The heel box is a really important part in any slipper, especially for people who have flat feet — if it is well supported in the heel, the foot will fit in a good position.”
Kelly notes that 70pc of the population wear shoes that are too small for them, particularly with slip-on shoes, which generally need to be too tight in order to stay on the foot.
“When you’re talking about fit, you should have a thumb’s width or about an inch from the longest toe to the end of the shoe, and you should be able to wiggle your toes freely and spread them out without any restriction,” she says.
Another factor to consider when shopping is the outer sole, which should provide a decent grip — they’re called slippers for a reason. Constance recommends the range from Skechers, including the faux fur-lined GoWalk moccasins for women (from €73) and the sueded-finish Expected X Larmen loafers for men (€60, Skechers).
She says the slippers from Hush Puppies also offer a “good grippy sole”, such as the borg-lined moccasins, called Ace for men (€38) and Addy for women (€40, LittlewoodsIreland.ie)
Kelly names Vionic as a particularly good brand for slippers. The range includes a cosy shearling-lined loafer-style Adler slipper for men, available in tan or black (€107), or the padded nylon, sleeping bag-inspired Tranquil women’s slipper, which comes in black, purple or mint (€77, VionicShoes.co.uk).
Kelly notes that totally flat slippers can hurt your heels, but many of Vionic’s slippers feature a built-in platform or sloping heel for greater support.
“For older clientele, Cosyfeet are much wider and deeper than a standard shoe,” she says. For women, the brand’s classic Holly style has a seam-free toe area ideal for problem or sensitive toes and a flexible rubber sole (€50), while the men’s Robert slipper is a similar design (€55).
The brand also offers a higher boot-style slipper, in shades of grey, brown, blue and plum (from €54, HomecareMedicalSupplies.ie). All are machine washable.
For younger shoppers, Constance recommends unisex Irish wool slippers (€24.90, reduced from €34, SweaterShop.ie), which come in many colours, from light grey and beige to lilac and hot pink.
“If you have major trouble keeping your feet warm, Irish slippers with a non-slip outer sole are kind of the business and we’re the best country in the world for wool,” she says.
What do Ireland’s style-savvy shoppers wear? Natalie B Coleman is a relatively recent convert to Uggs (slip-ons from €90 and boots from €150, Arnotts), but having bought her first pair three years ago, there’s no going back.
“I have two pairs, the slip-on sheepskin ones and the calf boots. I got into them when I was pregnant and that’s my go-to,” she says, noting that she keeps her Uggs looking fresh and clean with the brand’s care kit (€32, LittlewoodsIreland.ie). “I didn’t go for them for years because they’re a bit naff, but they’re so comfortable.”
Fellow designer Zoe Jordan is also a fan of a sheepskin slipper, favouring the backless style by Irish designer Rae Feather (from €160, RaeFeather.com).
“The very best thing about gearing up for the winter is switching my barefoot summer set-up for a luxurious and super-soft vibe,” says Zoe of the slippers, which can also be customised with the wearer’s initials. “I dig out my personalised and trusty Rae Feather slippers year after year, and layer up with a cashmere sock.”
Killian Walsh, owner and Creative Director of menswear brand Ilk, likes pairing his slippers with socks too, naming the Birkenstock Arizona EVA sandals (€45) as his top pick.
“After years of resisting them, I now absolutely love them,” he says. “They’re so comfortable and sometimes shoes can be too heavy, especially with the WFH buzz and not being fully formally dressed. These are versatile and airy.
“I wore them pretty much daily for the past 12 months at home.”
Menswear stylist Lawson Mpame goes between two favourites: faux fur-lined mules from Ted Baker (€80) and Tommy Hilfiger’s classic suede driver shoes (€129.90).
“The Ted Baker ones are super fluffy inside — it’s the most comfortable thing ever, especially when it’s cold,” he says. “I’ve had them for two or three years now, and I wear them every night when I’m relaxing at home.”
The Hilfiger style, he notes, are “more like a proper shoe”. “They last longer — I’ve often found that slippers from other brands don’t last as long — they lose their shape after a while,” says Lawson. “The Ted Baker ones retain their shape really well, and the Hilfiger ones are even more robust.”