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Is there any garment more deeply domestic than the slipper? They’re to be worn with pajamas, loungewear, and clothing — the first thing to slip into when getting out of bed or returning from a long day out. Plus, with the pandemic forcing us all indoors for 18 months — and the fact that a zillion people now work from home and have very little reason to put on actual shoes — a proper pair of slippers has never felt more essential.
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But woe unto he who thinks a basic Google search will help. We cut through the welter of boiled wool, sherpa fleece lining, and Internet brand hype to help the stylish man go cozy. Or better yet, the cozy man go stylish.
How Do You Test Slippers?
With pleasure! You test slippers by wearing them around the house. At most, I padded to the sidewalk to go get the paper, or lolled on the porch. I think I wore a pair to the garage once. Anything more is the job of a shoe.
As to the product mix, the aim was to find a variety of styles (the slide, the moccasin, the funny little felt bootie) and materials (suede, leather, wool, kilim carpet for heaven’s sake). I mixed it up from the kind of handsome, unlined house shoes I’d reach for in the summer months (or Southern California) to the winter-in-Maine warm boys I rely on for six months of the year.
I looked at each pair’s inherent style, assessed where they might fight into the homebound man’s wardrobe, and of course, where they fall on the Cozy Quotient.
Artemis Design Co Men's Kilim Slipper
Style: What is your relationship to whimsy? Do you watch Wes Anderson films, or read Jeeves and Wooster novels and think, “Ah, yes. The world as it ought to be.” Do you wear British style paper crowns at Christmas despite being American and Jewish? Do you have a personal relationship with brocade? If you answered yes to any of these questions — or, better still, smirked knowingly — then I can wholly recommend Artemis Design Co’s Kilim slippers. Made from kilim carpets by a second-generation cobbler in Istanbul, this is a slipper for a man with a true yen for romantic dressing.
I found it a splendid accompaniment to pajamas as well as my everyday chinos and shirt. If a slipper can be utterly transporting, style-wise, this is the slipper. I love wearing them around the house, sliding in and out of the mules as the mood strikes, and imagining myself entertaining Tolstoy for tea on the terrace.
One of the few pairs of slippers I tried that hold up to walking around outside, the Kilims are a dashing choice for a wander about the grounds, even if the grounds only include a stoop and quick jaunt to the bodega. Should you find yourself so enamored that you want to walk around town all day in these magic carpets, Artemis makes a full-on loafer version, as well.
Cozy Quotient: As you may expect from a Turkish-made house shoe, cold weather is not the primary concern, so I must give Artemis low marks on the Cozy Quotient. These slides care not a fig for warmth. The backless design further diminishes any thermal retention, though one could easily wear them with thick Fair Isle socks, which gives you a shot at a cross-cultural power clash below the ankles. I tend to go barefoot and let the gorgeous Kilim do all the talking.
I strongly recommend these house shoes for the summer months, for any mild climate, and for those whose house shoe imagination extends beyond boiled wool. I should note that they required a bit of a break-in. The toe started rigid, but gradually bent into a more comfortable form.
Rancourt and Co Harrington Slipper
Style: If Norman Rockwell paintings came in slipper form, they’d look a hell of a lot like Rancourt’s Harrington model. The ideal dad slipper, the Harrington boasts a handsome leather moccasin construction and a plaid wool interior lining. These slippers evoke boat shoes, Christmas morning, and winter nights in a Vermont cabin. They were born to adorn your flannel bathrobe. They’re made in Maine by a generations-deep footwear outfit in Lewiston. Personally, I love the style and they match up nicely with a more traditional or Ivy menswear sensibility. If working from home means a gray crewneck sweatshirt and a pair of chinos, you really have no reason to reach for loafers until you’re out the door.
Cozy: In your slipper search, I want to strongly recommend a low-key wool lining, like the Harringtons, instead of the considerable warmth of a shearling lining. It’s easy to think, “Sure, I want to be cozy — of course I’ll go full fleece.” But heed my words, friend. Shearling is a path to sweaty feet and clammy slippers. I’ll let you guess which dries faster.
For the last two winters, I’ve worn LL Bean’s shearling lined moccasin slippers and for the last two winters I’ve contended with daily overheating. And forget about wearing socks! The Beans work almost too well, and as they are very similar in style and construction to the Rancourts, I was eager to see how wool plays against fleece. Having spent considerable time in both now, wool wins easily. I find myself just as warm and cozy as the shearlings without a sweaty footbath. High marks in coziness!
Viberg Thyme Janus Calf Suede Slide
Style: I imagine that these very handsome suede slippers are the in-home footwear of a very fastidious Swiss graphic designer. If I were to use one adjective for the Vibergs, it would be “considered,” because the materials are just right and the details are just so. Even the color (a slightly mossy shade of gray) and the knubby rubber soles are clearly the result of lavish attention. Style-wise, they’re as understated as the Artemis Kilims are bold. I love wearing them with clothes more than pajamas, and they really reward more elevated trousers hemmed without a break. Between the soft, supple suede and dialed details, these slides deliver.
If there’s a moment when Viberg’s clear elegance slips, it’s when it comes to sizing. Viberg suggests American and Canadian customers size down one size, so my normal American 10 becomes a 9. But the slides only come in even sizes, forcing me to choose between a slipper that’s either too small or too large. I opted for the 10 on the logic that I can always put on thick socks and guess what? They’re a bit big. Not deal-breaker big, but they don’t fit as well as any other pair tested here. Caveat emptor!
Cozy: I’ll give the Viberg slides a 5/10 on the cozy scale. As slides, they leave the heel and ankle exposed, but I found the suede toe kept my feet rather well-insulated. The crepey sole means they’re better for walking around outside than a lot of other slippers in this review, so I spent some time in the driveway and pottering a bit outdoors, thinking that my dogs might take a chill. No such chill. And, as previously mentioned, they fit a little big, making thick socks the ideal addition to keep things comfortable in all seasons.
Glerups Slipper with Leather Outsole
Style: Easily the most cottagecore of the slippers I reviewed, the Glerups shoe (it’s a shoe insofar as it covers your heel and isn’t a full-on boot, but it’s still very much a slipper) just screams Scandinavia. Well they ought to. Nanny Glerup made her first pair of felted wool footwear in Denmark in the 70s, and by 1993, she started Glerups in earnest, making charmingly rustic shoes and slip-ins that have developed a cult following around the world. The brand has been making very cozy, if slightly gnomish, slippers ever since, and the company is still headquartered out of Nanny and her husband Ove’s home.
Cozy: Tough to beat the Danes in a cozy contest, and I’m inclined to put these slippers in their rightful place at the top of the podium. First, the felted wool. It’s a mix of Danish Gotland wool and white wool from New Zealand. I’ve found it wonderfully warm and comfortable, both with socks and without. I’ve never overheated in my Glerups, but should I find myself too sweaty (a Glerup flare up?), the natural moisture wicking and thermoregulation of wool should get me back to normal in a jiff.
Another key piece to the warmth is the shoe design. Initially, I worried I’d need a shoehorn to get them on because they were so tight. But, after a bit of breaking in, I can now slip in and out of them easily and they still create a nice thermal seal just below my ankle. I have room in the toe, but elsewhere they fit snugly. The soles come in a variety of materials including leather and rubber. I went leather as I intended them to be a truly indoor shoe, but those who find themselves letting the dog out at ungodly hours might want to go rubber. And if you really want to keep the Glerups cozy outside the house, you might take a look at the boot model. Call me a snob, but I can’t get behind slippers as out-and-about footwear, but the Glerups boots are certainly better looking than Uggs.
Haflinger Michl Slipper
Style: Woolen German clogs are a distinct vibe. They don’t have the whimsy or refinement of some other slippers I tested here, but dammit if they don’t just kinda look right. The Haflingers I tried are round-toed, rubber-soled, and bring heat from the jump. For woolens like this, I usually opt against drab gray or black, and in this case the Michl offered a lovely shade of forest green. The truth is, Haflinger has dozens of styles of clogs, which all basically hit the same note. Maybe you want a shade of pink or some daffy felt design or a ribbon border or a hard sole, but the general shape and feel remains the same. Because of the sheer variety you get from Haflinger, I encourage you to skip the navy and go for something more winsome. Going full lederhosen chic is not the worst idea when you’re shopping a brand that goes back to 1898 in Goslar, Germany.
Cozy: Can you really beat a dense wall of wool for warmth, comfort, and that gemütlich feeling that only soft slippers can give? In a word, nein!
I’ve loved these Haflinger slippers from the first time I put them on. If there’s a perfect cozy slide, this is it. The wool is about a half-inch thick, the footbed is lined in matching felted wool, and you can actually remove the cork footbed if you want to. Granted, this seriously alters the fit of the slipper, making it much roomier and thus, less cozy. But you can do it if you want to. I’ve found myself wearing the Haflingers with wool socks now that the nights here in Maine have dipped below freezing and I am quite happy indeed. The rubber sole also allows me to dash across the yard to the woodpile when necessary.
AE McAteer House Shoes
Style: If there’s a screaming bargain to be had among the slippers I tested, this is where you find it. At just $95, these handmade-in-New-York-City house shoes are sleek, comfortable, and confer what I’ll call an elevated Walter Matthau vibe. They’re too refined to read as fully grumpy old man, but they also work real nice with a set of flannel pajamas, a bathrobe, and half a grapefruit for breakfast.
The house shoes come in three colorways — black, brown, and natural — and fit like a glove right out of the box. Allow a little time for break-in, as they arrive pretty tight. But, as you know, leather stretches and these will conform to your foot inside a week. I went for black, mostly because I wear slippers around the house all the time and wanted an option that reads just a bit more sophisticated. They look magnificent with chinos, an OCBD, and a big shawl-knit sweater. Should you find yourself smitten, McAteer handmakes actual shoes too, though that’s about where the bargain stops. His very handsome loafers start at $595.
Cozy: As light-wearing, unlined leather houseshoes, the MacAteers inevitably fall short of Haflinger-level coziness. But only a fool would ask them to do the same work. Like the Artemis slides, I recommend the MacAteers for either warmer weather, warmer months, or for those whose landlords keep the damn radiators cranked from October to May. I do love what a snug fit they are, though, which keeps the foot toastier than you might expect. I should note a discrepancy between what’s on the McAteer website and reality. Though the product page says that the house shoes are lined with ⅛” wool, mine arrived only with a leather footbed and no additional lining.
This is my second pair of AE McAteer house shoes, and I can report that though I did eventually wear holes in the soles and uppers after a good eight years of use, founder Andrew McAteer kindly repaired them for me himself for a very small charge. How often can you simply email your shoemaker and request a repair? Service like that warms the heart and the feet.
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