Slip-on shoe

Slip-ons are typically low, lace-less shoes. The style most commonly seen, known as a loafer or slippers in American culture, has a moccasin construction. One of the first designs was introduced in London by Wildsmith Shoes, called the Wildsmith Loafer. They began as casual shoes, but have increased in popularity to the point of being worn in America with city lounge suits. Another design was introduced as Aurlandskoen (the Aurland Shoe) in Norway (early 20th century). They are worn in many situations in a variety of colours and designs, often featuring tassels on the front, or metal decorations (the ‘Gucci’ loafer). A less casual, earlier type of slip-on is made with side gussets (sometimes called a dress loafer). Made in the same shape as lace-up Oxfords, but lacking the laces, these shoes have elasticated inserts on the side which allow the shoe to be easily removed but remain snug when worn. This cut has its greatest popularity in Britain.

In America and some European countries, such as Italy, the loafer enjoys general use as a casual and informal shoe worn for work and leisure, though lace-ups are still preferred for more formal situations. The general popularity of brown over black extends to loafers, sometimes using exotic leathers such as suede and cordovan. Since the late 1990s, socks have been optional while wearing loafers. Though originally men’s shoes, some styles of loafers, such as casual tassel and penny loafers, are also worn by women. Women’s loafers tend to have shorter toes and are worn with a variety of outfits from shorts, jeans, slacks, and capris to dresses and skirts.

In an evolution entirely different than the loafer, Chelsea boots were invented by J. Sparkes Hall for Queen Victoria in 1836. The stretchable rubber produces a comfortable shoe combining the convenience of laceless shoes with the profile of lace-ups. Its feminine image was soon lost, and was dubbed Congress gaiter and Boston boot in America. Rare even in Britain, its country of origin, it is still the only style of slip-on worn with a suit in some of the highly conservative working environments in the City of London. With such a background, their use mimics that of Oxfords, so they are worn in brown with broguing as a country shoe, or in plainer, black styles with suits.