Slippers Are More Interesting Than You Think!

The word “slippers” may conjure up fanciful images but for most people the picture is one of comfortable slip-on shoes that are generally worn indoors, hence the alternative terms house-shoes or carpet slippers. For some it may be a light shoe designed to be worn for dancing or perhaps just a disposable foot covering of a kind supplied to airline passengers generally referred to as slipperettes. Others would see the depiction of their favorite cartoon characters on novelty slippers or just slipper boots. The term “slippers” however has other connotations far removed from the notion of comfortable footwear.

Lady’s Slippers

No, this is not a feminine version of an indoor slipper but orchids found in north temperate regions, the flowers of which have a conspicuous pouch or slipper-shaped lip. It is also called a Slipper Orchid. The species name Reginae is Latin for “of queen” and the various common names retain the slipper connection and include White wing moccasin, Royal Ladies Slippers and Showy slippers.

Slipper Bath

Historically a bath tub shaped like a slipper, with a high rising back, designed to keep the water hot for longer and to protect the modesty of the user. They were used in Public wash houses for sanitation of the working classes long before houses were routinely built with their own bathrooms!

Slipper Limpet

This is a mollusk which has an oval shell with an internal ledge giving the empty shell a slipper-like appearance. One particular species of the Slipper limpet has become a serious pest of oyster beds in Europe.

Cultural Aspects of Wearing Slippers

Some households in Japan have a “shoes off at the door” rule which may involve removing outside footwear and/or socks. It may however require the wearing of slippers. In some other cultures it can be a social obligation to remove shoes and wear slippers when entering a place of residence.

In the UK some schools have a rule requiring children to remove outdoor shoes upon entering the building and to put on slippers. This has a twofold benefit of encouraging children to protect the flooring and eliminates dirt on outdoor shoes being taken into the classroom. Hopefully this may develop into a practice that they might follow throughout life. The wearing slippers in the home and the benefits it provides is widely accepted as the norm but to wear them outside is considered by some as slovenly and untidy.

Types of Slippers

Across the world there is a vast range of different types of slippers which vary in style and materials used. Slipper boots, novelty slippers, moccasins and shepherd slippers are just a few. The latter being a popular designer sheepskin boot that comes in a slipper variety. Whatever the particular type, slippers are so comfortable they are being seen more often outside of the home but people should be careful. Not so long ago one branch of the supermarket Tesco banned customers from visiting the store in their nightwear, they might ban slippers next!

Sally S writes on a wide range of subjects including history, music and travel.

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