Slippers are for comfort, for slipping on after a long day spent in often uncomfortable shoes. But should you remove your socks as well as your shoes?
So, should you wear socks with slippers? If you want them to last for as long as possible the simple answer is yes. Socks cling to the bottom of the foot and provide a barrier between your foot and the usually very soft material on the inside of a slipper.
However, there are lots of people who would never dream of wearing socks with their slippers. They believe that doing so is the ultimate fashion faux pas. They also associate the barefoot look with additional comfort. Socks can be rather constricting and freeing your feet from them can feel very liberating. But if you should be wearing socks with slippers to protect them is there a way you can without feeling like you look like someone’s granny?
Slippers, socks and all that grime
Most slippers are crafted using soft, comforting to the skin materials, and that is especially true of the insoles. Many make use of things like terrycloth, sheepskin, fur or even faux fur. In terms of comfort for your poor tired feet, this is a great thing. In terms of the cleanliness of the slippers themselves, not so much.
Although few of us would like to admit it (because the thought is kind of gross) our feet do get grimy and sweaty pretty easily. And the soft material that lines your slippers absorb all of that very quickly, making it grimy, and if you think about, not very pleasant to have next to your skin.
Oils, sweat (feet do have to sweat, it’s a part of the body’s natural cooling system) and dead skin cells all transferred into that soft fur that was so appealingly clean and fluffy when you purchased your slippers can wear them out faster than you think. Which can be very annoying if you just spent a decent amount of money on some great new slippers that you thought would last for months.
Socks, slippers and fashion
Even if they are not slavish about following fashion trends most people do not want to look like complete fools. And for years it has been something of an unwritten rule in the fashion world that slippers and socks simply do not go together. And it is something that lots of people believe. For example, in a recent Reddit poll in the r/AskWomen subreddit ladies were asked what the worst thing was men could wear on their feet and the most popular answer – by a 118 point margin – was socks with slippers or sandals.
And if you are talking about knee socks with slippers out in public then we might agree. That is a look that is hard to pull off, even for the most fashionable of men (or women) But who actually wears slippers in public (which would be something of a fashion faux pas in itself, not to mention not very practical) to care too much about what other people think?
Socks and foot health
Remember when we mentioned that many people like to be ‘barefoot’ in slippers because they like to remove their socks and let their feet feel ‘free’? The fact is that that might not be the best idea, depending upon the general health of their feet.
Slippers usually offer very little in the way of foot support because they are so soft. If you suffer from a foot health problem like flat feet or plantar fasciitis leaving your feet – especially your arches – completely without support can lead to foot pain. If you keep your socks on, however, you are still giving your feet a little support and if you need more you can look for slippers that do offer extra support (they are out there now and some of them are even very attractive)
But there is even worse news than that. According to studies conducted by The College of Podiatry grimy slippers can quickly cause fungal infections of the foot, toes and even toenails, and those can be very hard to get rid of (not too mention uncomfortable and unattractive.) And because the foot is not being ‘held’ in the right position by a sock in a soft, unsupportive slipper the risk of developing a painful ingrown toenail increases as well.
The right socks to wear with slippers
Having established that the best course of action is to wear socks with slippers there are certain kinds of socks that might look better with them than others. Take no-show socks for example. These are low cut socks that cover the feet and would adequately protect your soft slippers from dirt and grime but do not cover the tops of the feet and so, in many kinds of slippers you can still achieve that ‘barefoot look’.
For ladies, foot covers are also an option. These are very sheer, stocking-like items that can barely be seen but still provide that all-important barrier between the feet and the soft slipper material. They are also very inexpensive, easy to wear and easy to launder, so well worth looking for the next time you go shopping (you can usually find them wherever pantyhose and stockings are sold, even at the supermarket.)
There is yet another option though, one being adopted by some fashionistas of both sexes, and that is to make wearing socks with slippers a fashion statement, with socks that are as bold and colorful as possible. It’s even a look that was seen on the runways of some major European fashion shows, with both male and female models strutting their stuff in plaid, check and even tartan socks with their slippers.
Opting for more durable slippers
So, you really can’t face the idea of wearing socks with slippers at all? You aren’t ready to make such a bold move against conventional fashion rules? Then you should consider going for a more robust slipper, one that is more shoe-like and can be wiped clean of all that foot grime once in a while.
One alternative you could consider is a slipper with a hard leather insole. A popular choice is a moccasin style slipper called a driving moccasin. As their name suggests they were originally designed to be worn while driving. They have nubbed outer soles that allow drivers to ‘feel’ the pedals of their vehicles better but this feature can also make walking around indoors a little more comfortable as well, and their inner soles can be wiped clean with ease.
Slides are another choice. Sports shoe manufacturers like Nike and Adidas offer great looking slides that are designed for indoor wear but are crafted from a tough PU that resists dirt and grime. They can be a great choice if you prefer an open-backed slipper over a closed heel version and if you like to rock a slightly sportier look.
Slides like these can also be worn outdoors, but doing both does rather defeat one of the main reasons we wear slippers in the first place, which is to keep the floors and carpets in our homes cleaner and free of the dirt and grime (and even bacteria) that can be tracked in on outdoor shoes.
Can you wear socks with sandals?
The real fashion faux pas is not really socks with slippers, but socks with sandals instead, especially if you are a guy. And there really is no reason to. The average sandal is designed to be worn barefoot (they are a summer look after all) and boast inner soles that can stand up to the dirt and grime left behind by the average slightly sweaty summer foot. The same is true of another perennial summer footwear favorite, the flip flop. They are certainly not designed to be worn with socks, not just because it’s a bad look but because of the toe post flip flops boast it can be very uncomfortable to do so too.
Can’t you just wash slippers?
Those who prefer to go without socks when wearing slippers might be wondering why can’t you just wash your slippers when they start to get a little grimy? Well, the answer is you can, but only if you choose the right kind.
The standard slipper is not designed to get wet in general, let alone go into the wash. Many have soft soles that would be ruined by even a few minutes in a washing machine. Slipper socks, however, are often a different story.
Slipper socks are basically little more than slightly thicker socks with small rubber treads on the bottom (so that you don’t end up slipping and sliding everywhere) and so are designed to be easy to launder. On the downside, they don’t offer very much in the way of foot protection, so are unlikely to protect your feet from a stray thumbtack – or stray piece of Lego – on the floor in the way a standard pair of slippers might.