As many of us are spending the majority of our days inside, our feet can feel a little naked in the absence of shoes. But getting back on your feet — both physically and proverbially — might start with a great pair of slippers you can wear indoors, whether you’re working from your home office or catching up on chores, especially as the Northeast is dealing with winter storms.
SKIP AHEAD Best slippers
But where do you start looking for the right pair of slippers? To help you navigate the vast world of modern slippers, we consulted experts on figuring out which types are the best for you and which slippers to consider buying right now.
It might sound counterintuitive, but a plush pair of slippers with loads of ankle support can weaken muscles over time, which is why experts recommend you opt for a barefoot-style slipper. “You want the slipper to force your foot to exercise to hold it on [so you should avoid] heel straps,” said Lance Silverman, MD, an orthopedic surgeon. “If you have to grab this slipper to keep it in place while you walk, it’s extra strengthening you can do to improve your foot muscles. The muscles protect the bones and joints. Having strong muscles is how we keep our feet healthy.”
In general, Silverman’s view is that the more support a slipper has — whether in its general build or through components of it — the less it helps strengthen your foot. Therefore, he said, there’s no need for closed-toed slippers, “unless you have a construction site in your own home.” “We need to stop trying to cushion, increase traction and start embracing the natural condition and the natural gait," he said.
But while going barefoot might be ideal in some ways for your foot, there’s something to be said about comfort and safety — not to mention personal preference and personal needs. Podiatrist Grace Torres-Hodges, DPM, and a spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), noted that slippers can also help prevent cuts, abrasions and infections from bacteria, fungus or viruses that can be brought into the house from outside.
Like shoes, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to buying slippers since we all have different feet, according to Torres-Hodges. But barring any deformities or conditions like bunions or hammertoes that result in inflammation and pain, slippers that are as minimalist in structure as possible are a decent bet for slippers that might help strengthen your feet.
Best slippers to shop
With the above guidance in mind, we put together some top-rated and expert-recommended options together, along with a few styles that caught our eyes, too.
This APMA-approved slide that hugs your foot’s natural curves. While a toe-post isn’t for everyone (read: it can tickle or even hurt if you have particularly sensitive feet), a study from the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research found that thong-style flip-flops are more similar to barefoot biomechanics than researchers previously thought. To keep these slippers looking and feeling their freshest, pop them in the wash every so often and leave them to air dry.
For both compression and light traction without the overly stuffy feeling of a traditional slipper, Silverman said you can opt for one “that is like a sock with a thicker but flexible sole,” mimicking the barefoot condition. One option would be these highly-rated slippers from Acorn, made of wool, nylon and spandex. With a memory foam footbed surrounded by a classy leather sole, you can choose from 12 colorways.
Torres-Hodges recommends brands like Dr. Comfort to most of her patients. They feature extra wiggle room to accommodate swollen feet as a result of either edema or diabetes, a firm toe box for added protection and removable gel inserts to provide heel support. Its light fleece lining and soft suede upper provide both warmth and breathability, making it a viable slipper option for warm and cold climates (as long as you’re not out running in tropical weather).
When buying the right slipper, it’s important to respect your body’s limitations so as not to exacerbate any issues — and Torres-Hodges points patients in the direction of Crocs when they’re looking for support and comfort. “If you have any instability, a strapped sandal or slipper is a must because the control of the mechanics is not normal and needs assistance,” she said. With 22 color options, the classic Crocs clog gets a cozy quarantine-friendly makeover with faux fur lining paired with its signature air vents for extra ventilation.
With FitFlop’s thick sole and strappy upper, you’ll get a comforting cushion beneath your feet while still keeping your toes and ankle engaged. While its sole is light on traction, which may compromise your balance, Silverman said any resulting shorter steps could be healthier for your feet. “Short, quick strides get you to the same place much safer. Shuffle steps are better than any traction you can add,” he noted.
Over the last year, Ugg has proven to be a popular brand among Shopping readers. These highly-rated men's slippers are made from fluffy sheepskin and wool lining and a Chestnut suede outer layer. Ugg claims these shoes are also temperature regulating. If you're hunting for the women's equivalent style, then check out the Scuffette.
If you need a pair of slippers offering arch support, then consider ordering these wide-width slippers. Shopping readers seem to favor these closed-toe shoes that run one size bigger for women and are true-to-size for men. V.Step claims these shoes are comfortable for those dealing with plantar fasciitis, pronation and supination when walking and running. You can order the V.Step sandals in three colors: Grey, Brown and Blue.
Beyond their popularity and high average-star rating on Amazon, Shopping readers have also gravitated toward these cozy ankle booties. These slippers are also much more affordable options compared to the $150 pair of Ugg Classic Mini II booties. Tuobuqu claims the slippers sport four layers, including memory foam, and a durable slip-resistant sole. These shoes are available in 12 colors, from netural Black and Knit Grey to a winter-friendly Orange and Brown.
These top-rated Minnetonka slippers boast a memory foam insole for additional comfort and a rubber sole for better traction. They're also made from either berber fleece for warmth during the harsh winter months or a multicolor — Black, Cream and Tan — knit. According to the brand, these cozy women's kicks fit feet that are size five (small) to 10.5 (extra large).
What better way to adhere to the recommended minimalist guidelines while still keeping your feet nice and warm than with hefty and substantial socks? Lined with lavender and vitamin E, this crossover between a sock and a slipper is designed to deliver ultimate moisture for a pampered, soothing feel. While it does contain traction bumpers, its feathery polyester lining will force you to keep your toes engaged, thus strengthening them over time, the brand claims.