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The recorded history of slippers can be traced back to the 12th century when the Vietnamese had been wearing slippers. But in the West, the record can only be traced to 1478. Slippers were worn in Chinese courts as early as 4700 BC. They were made of cotton or woven rush, had leather linings, and featured symbols of power, such as dragons. Native American moccasins were also highly decorative. They depicted nature scenes and were embellished with beadwork and fringing, their soft sure-footedness made them suitable for indoors appropriation. Inuit and Aleut people made shoes from smoked hare hide to protect their feet against the frozen ground inside their homes. Victorian men needed such shoes to keep the dust and gravel outside their homes. For Victorian ladies slippers were an opportunity to show off their needlepoint skills and use embroidery as decoration.
The following is a partial list of types of slippers:
- Open-heel slippers – usually made with a fabric upper layer that encloses the top of the foot and the toes, but leaves the heel open. These are often distributed in expensive hotels, included with the cost of the room.
- Closed slippers – slippers with a heel guard that prevents the foot from sliding out.
- Slipper boots – slippers meant to look like boots. Often favored by women, they are typically furry boots with a fleece or soft lining, and a soft rubber sole. Modeled after sheepskin boots, they may be worn outside.
- Sandal slippers – cushioned sandals with soft rubber or fabric soles, similar to Birkenstock's cushioned sandals.
- Evening slipper, also known as the "Prince Albert" slipper in reference to Albert, Prince Consort. It is made of velvet with leather soles and features a grosgrain bow or the wearer’s initials embroidered in gold.
Some slippers are made to resemble something other than a slipper and are sold as a novelty item. The slippers are usually made from soft and colorful materials and may come in the shapes of animals, animal paws, vehicles, cartoon characters, etc.
In popular culture
The fictional character Cinderella is said to have worn glass slippers; in modern parlance, they would probably be called glass high heels. This motif was introduced in Charles Perrault's 1697 version of the tale, "Cendrillon ou la petite pantoufle de verre" ("Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper"). For some years it was debated that this detail was a mistranslation and the slippers in the story were instead made of fur (French: vair), but this interpretation has since been discredited by folklorists.
A pair of ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz sold at Christie's in June 1988 for $165,000. The same pair was resold in May 2000 for $666,000. On both occasions they were the most expensive shoes from a film to be sold at auction.
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