Thursday, November 16, 2006

Men's slippers...

The Albert of Basil Seal, by Shipton & Heneage

"My favourite part of childhood Christmases was the BBC's annual showing of The Slipper and the Rose. The word slipper had 10-year-old me roaring every time, as I imagined the gemmed-up Cinderella waltzing round the ball in the brown plaid chilblain-toasters my grandfather took to his grave.

You see, slippers are a footwear paradox - for men anyway. While they can be denizens of male hospital wards, they actually earned their place in cobbling history as velvet monogrammed extravaganzas. And they are going that way again. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say we are on the verge of a golden age of male slipperdom.

The modern slipper is heir to a comfort legacy stemming back to the 17th century, says Sue Constable, shoe heritage officer at Northampton Museums. Originally, they were house-shoes worn by gentlemen in a state of undress, which, mercifully, meant informal clobber, not nudity.

Back then, slippers were emblems of wealth. "Only those who could afford more than one set of clothes wore them," says Constable. Parading them in front of guests won cachet, not stigma. Entertaining in mules was a sign of breeding, not, as later, burlesque..."

Mr. Joke found a nice pair...