Luxury dress slippers can entertain leisurely at home. But they are also bang up to date and reviving as a modern alternative to the loafer.
Luxury dress slippers have several guises and multiple personalities. From summer staple in fashionable linen to state occasions in full patent shine, it can hold its own amid the Oxfords, Derbys and even the best brogues. It has its own place in the gentleman’s wardrobe and looks well with best evening wear. The Albert slipper (named after Queen Victoria’s consort) is a style statement. Put on a brogue and you join a club. Don a pair of luxury slippers and you start your own.
TRADITIONAL LUXURY DRESS SLIPPERS
Bowhill & Elliott has been making luxury slippers in Norwich since 1874 and is run today by Roger Jury, a direct descendent of the founder. “The firm started out making hand-turned slippers [soft leather] but now specialises in Albert luxury dress slippers,” says the company’s Ben Grint. “You can choose from our stock, which includes cashmere, velvet, tweed and six colours of quilting, but we can source most things.”
A pair of Albert luxury dress slippers made-to-order can cost from £180 to £395, and the ready-to-wear range starts at £180. “For a pair of luxury slippers to be bespoke you would have to have your own last made, and that is a much more expensive process, starting at about £1,000,” he says. “We have two lasts: one a narrower, slightly more elegant fit; the other (used for the majority of British slippers) a wider, more traditional look.”
The luxury dress slippers are bench made by hand in the small factory, which employs 10 people, and take eight to 10 weeks to make. “I go to work in my slippers every day,” says Grint. “They are navy velvet with gold quilting and binding. Our best-selling luxury slippers are the skull and sabres, plain black velvet and a customer’s own monogram.”
LUXURY DRESS SLIPPERS WITH WOW FACTOR
Fiona Dreesmann is passionate about luxury dress slippers. The author of The Gentleman’s Slipper and founder of My Slippers in 2010, she offers fantastic made-to-order and ready-to-wear ranges. “I have worn slippers for years and after I started writing the book I decided to have a pair made. I had so many positive comments I started the business,” she says.
My Slippers’ primary selling point is the sheer exuberance of colour and trim. “I love the colours,” says Dreesmann. “If you are going to wear black dress slippers, why not go for a shocking pink trim? My best seller, however, is still a traditional navy version.”
The luxury slippers are handmade in England. “There are only three companies still making these dress slippers,” she says. “I have my own last, which ensures a certain individuality.”
My Slippers offers more than 300 colours in velvet, linen, flannel or vintage fabrics. The website allows you to create your own luxury slippers temptingly easily. “The number of clients embroidering their own needlepoint and using that to create their own slippers is increasing. Alternatively, we can create the needlepoint for you. I have just created a pair for a client as a thank you for a holiday,” she says, “the embroidery showing different elements of the trip.”
From the ready-to-wear range there are some covetable choices, particularly the spice velvet with fox head (£325) and dark-green linen with lobsters and red trim (£345). So difficult is it to select a style, you will probably have to settle for a brace.
“Our Sandringham dress slipper (£165) is far more like a shoe than a slipper,” says Adrian Herring of Herring. “The tweed fabric is a bespoke design made for Herring by Fox Brothers and the slipper is handmade in England. Because it is made on a last, like a welted shoe, it has a proper shape and structure. Out of the house, it is usually worn without a sock or with a thin sock if you are going to your club.”
For a vibrant take on luxury dress slippers try a pair from Pammie-Jane Farquhar’s Nomad Ideas. “The company started 11 years ago and sources unique and beautiful Kilim from Turkey,” she says. “The slippers (£135) are handmade in Turkey and go with everything.” Available up to a size 14, they add a jazzy kick to any outfit and work well as a weekend shoe, too.
Some of the traditional Northamptonshire shoemakers produce both Albert luxury dress slippers and a turned slipper. Crockett & Jones’ Lion Rampant in black velvet (£215) has a black satin quilted lining, a hard-leather sole and is available in an E-width fitting. The company also offers semi-bespoke special orders (from £215), which take from six to eight weeks. The Ritz slip-on mule (£120), an ideal house slipper, is available in black calf and dark brown suede.
“Our best-sellingstyle of luxury dress slippers is the Tumbled Calf Black Mews Moc (£298),” says Robert Switzman of Harrys of London. The luxury shoemaker combines traditional craftsmanship with the latest in footwear technology, and boasts an array of skins for its slippers. “The Kudu Suede version (£298) is a country favourite,” he says, “perfect to wear with your feet up by the fire in winter.”
The slippers are handmade in Italy and take four to six weeks. “Our Ostrich (£615) luxury slippers are made with exceptional attention to detail.”
Whether you are stuck on navy or hanker after shocking pink, prefer them restrained or resplendent, be sure you buy a pair of dress slippers this season.