Expert shopping: Slippers

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 weather gets slightly cooler this fall and as you prepare for the winter months. 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.

SKIP AHEAD Best slippers

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

1. FitFlop Lottie Shimmer Crystal Slide

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.

2. Dr. Comfort Men’s Relax Therapeutic Slippers

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).

3. Acorn Unisex Slipper Sock

For both compression and light traction without the overly stuffy feeling of a traditional slipper, Silverman said you can opt for a slipper “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.

4. Vionic Women’s Indulge Gracie Slipper with Concealed Orthotic Arch Support

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.

5. Crocs Men’s and Women’s Classic Lined Clog Indoor and Outdoor Fuzzy Slipper

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.

6. Dr. Scholl’s Women’s 2 Pack Soothing Spa Low Cut Lavender + Vitamin E Socks

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.

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