Bring Your Own Slippers!

Once you start wearing indoor slippers, you'll never go back.

A pair of Grey wool felt slippers
robert reader / Getty Images

Whenever someone visits my house between November and April and asks what they should bring, I tell them to bring slippers. This comment is usually met with confusion, so I explain that my house is much colder than most (we keep the daytime thermostat set to 65F/18C and it drops to 54F/12C at night) and they're likely to feel cold walking on hardwood floors without slippers on. Friends who visit on a regular basis now bring theirs automatically; they know it's just what we do.

Wearing slippers indoors is something I always did as a child and assumed everyone else did, too; but it wasn't until I became an adult that I realized it's not common practice in North America. This is unfortunate because wearing slippers has some real benefits. 

There's the issue of indoor temperature, mentioned above. When your feet are warm and toasty, you don't feel as bothered by a cool ambient temperature. I'd say it's even more effective than putting on a sweater – although I usually have a combination of the two for optimal comfort while working at home all day. By investing in a pair of slippers, you'll be able to turn down the thermostat by a few degrees and hardly notice the difference.

Apparently, keeping your feet warm goes beyond comfort; it can boost your health, too. Dr. Ron Eccles of the Common Cold Center at Cardiff University told FootFiles that chilled feet inhibit the body's ability to fend off illness:

"Chilling the feet causes blood vessels in the nose to constrict. It’s a protective reflex action which slows down the loss of heat from the body, to try to keep you warm. The skin goes white, the inside of your nose and throat goes white and blood flow to the nose is reduced. The white cells that fight infection are found in the blood, so then there are fewer white cells to fight the virus."

Slippers keep everything cleaner. They make it convenient (and even pleasurable) to leave your grimy outdoor shoes at the front door and proceed into the house with clean soles. Slippers keep socks in better condition, allowing you to reuse them for another day, particularly if the socks are made from odor-resistant wool, and slowing wear-and-tear. Any floor dirt gets picked up by the slippers, rather than your socks, which means less laundry. (This adds up when you have five family members living under the same roof, as I do.)

a collection of moccasins
A collection of moccasins.

K Martinko

Because I live in rural Ontario, Canada, my personal preference is to buy moose- and deer-hide moccasins that are handmade by local Indigenous artisans (pictured above), but I realize that option isn't available or appealing to everyone. I like to think of them as my "100-mile shoes" (the same idea as the 100-mile diet), sourced from wild animals that wandered the forests of my very own province. They are, to me, the antithesis of the conventional footwear industry that almost exclusively exists overseas and relies on convoluted, murky supply chains to produce both leather and synthetic shoes that come at a notoriously high environmental cost.

If deer-hide isn't your thing, there are plenty of other great slipper options out there. Even a pair of sandals can be repurposed as slippers, as long as they accommodate socks and remain designated for house use only.

I buy moccasins for the entire family, including my children, and they've learned from a young age to put them on first thing in the morning, as soon as they get out of bed. We pack them when we go to visit the grandparents, whose house in the forest is even colder than ours and relies on a wood-burning cookstove in the kitchen to heat the whole space. There, slippers are as indispensable for an overnight trip as a toothbrush. 

As we head into another winter here in the northern hemisphere, considering buying yourself a great pair of slippers and experience the difference it makes in your quality of life. You won't ever want to return to pre-slipper living!