I finally have something to wear with evening wear instead of inaccurate black brogues!
Disclaimer: We received a pair of slippers as a gift from the founder, Percy Steinhart, but I am writing this article of my own volition. There were no terms or conditions for these shoes.
Slippers were always an aspirational piece for me, since I never thought I’d get to own a pair. With a rich history and roots in the victorian era, they’re so incredibly fancy and slightly feminine, which gives them an odd place in menswear, similar to opera pumps. Some gentlemen love them for their heritage, with monogrammed ones being worn in the house by guys like Winston Churchill or the Kennedys. To me, it’s the type of thing that WASPs/rich people wear with pajamas and dressing gowns. It can definitely be worn apart from the “at home” connotations, though it can then have the “asshole” vibe if not done right.
I’m no legitimate menswear historian, but from what I’ve seen, the monograms have roots in the Victorian era, where men would have flowers embroidered on their house slippers. Technically they’re “casual” based on this fact but he contemporary velvet slipper (with or without monogramming) is an inherently formal piece. It’s cut low to the ground like a good loafer should be, but lacks the accoutrements: it’s more minimal, with the main points of interest in the form of optional piping and monogram. The delicate nature of velvet makes it reserved for only the most special of occasions, whereas suede is the “everyday” variation. I personally like the dark ones with more minimal embroideries, which are versatile.
I’d recommend reading this article by the Rake for more slipper talk.
It’s most common to see it worn as an alternative to patent leather oxfords (which I don’t like) or opera pumps for evening wear. You could technically wear it with a dark suit, but I actually prefer it with separates. Kenji Cheung and Tony Sylvester are great proponents of wearing slippers with odd trousers and denim, with full tailoring nowhere in sight. It’s even more irreverent/subversive and that’s my speed, though the line between tacky and cool is a thin line. Personally, I’d try to wear mine with different combinations because I’d hate to own something that I could only wear with black tie. I’m lucky if I even get to break out my tux at least once a year.
Honestly, a lot of the inspiration comes from Tony Sylvester, since he so effortlessly wears his slippers with everything.
Because I don’t have much experience with slippers, I don’t really know where to recommend ya’ll. Apparently Crockett & Jones makes them, but the most notable brand I know is Stubbs & Wootton. I actually got to meet Thom, their designer in NYC, during my first trip to the Big Apple. The brand was started by Percy Steinhart in 1993 and focuses on bespoke and RTW slippers for men and women. While they do have a few standard options (like ones for the Ivy league school), the best ones are the fun ones, like the “Screw U” and their collaborations with artist Luke Edward Hall.
Percy actually contacted me on Instagram and inquired if I would like to be gifted a pair of his slippers. Spencer’s request came a few weeks later and soon enough, we both finally had shoes appropriate for evening wear. No longer would we have to wear the incorrect brogued oxfords or cheap H&M “patent leather”.
The price starts around $300 and goes up (or down depending on a sale), so they are definitely a luxury item.
The slippers I chose were the pegasus ones, designed by Luke Edward Hall, on black velvet with a neon blue piping. Like I said, I struggled with picking a design and these were the main ones that stuck out to me. The design was cartoony and not too serious, which works with my personality! I was honestly unsure of the blue piping but I think that adds to the character and novelty of it, perhaps leading it to be worn with casual (not evening wear) outfits.
As I noted in the blucher/derby article, I’ve always had an issue with loafer sizing. I noted this to Perry who put me in contact with his team in Florida. They sent me a 7 and a 7.5 in fitting slippers where I finally decided on a 7.5. Unfortunately, they were out of the LEH Pegasus in that size, but they actually got their factory to make one for me (basically a bespoke option, but based on their pre-made designs)!
They feel as luxurious as you would think, with a soft velvet body. The blue isn’t too striking, but it is noticible; I like how it plays against the white in the pegasus art. Overall, I am pretty happy with my slippers though I feel like I should’ve tried a size 8 just to be sure on the fit.
Obviously I don’t wear my slippers much since I’m a little scared of wearing them in and the fact that I just don’t have any real reason to break them out. I wanted to combat that second point, so my first official outing of the slippers wasn’t even with evening wear! In fact, this outfit is so old, I don’t even have any facial hair!
It’s a rugged look inspired by the vibes of Brycelands and Tony Sylvester, with a a turtleneck under a jungle jacket. The slippers give it a slightly elevated feel, similar to the effect of a black penny/tassel loafer just with the added rakishness of the monogram. It’s got that punk vibe that Tony does so well.
I actually think that the monogram spices it up, since the outfit as a whole is rather “drab”.
I also decided to try the slippers with suits. A turtleneck + DB is an elegant combo in my eyes, to the Stubbs was appropriate! The suit is one of the few true vintage pieces that I haven’t sold off or given to a friend, mainly because it isn’t too bold despite the structured shoulder.
I don’t have much inspiration behind this outfit, just that I think I could see Bryceland’s/Tony Sylvester doing something similar.
Intrigued further by the use of it with a suit, I decided to use something that was a bit more “Ethan”, which of course meant a brown suit with a striped blue shirt and patterned tie. It’s a bit inspired by a summer fit by Tony Sylvester, where he wore his slippers with a tobacco cotton suit.
While I do like the idea here (it’s appropriate, considering the fun brocade tie), I don’t think it’s very me. I personally would’ve rather worn black loafers if I felt the inclination for black footwear. A more monochromatic look could have been better, though it might have been similar to the turtleneck look above. Alternatively, leaning into ivy stylings is a good choice as well, but I think that’s more of an F.E Castleberry thing, a look that I admire but don’t do for myself.
Obviously the best choice for velvet slippers is to wear them with evening/dinner wear! As we detailed in our SaDcast show notes, they are not only simply black tie appropriate, but add a bit more personality than simply wearing patent leather oxfords or opera pumps. Thanks to the novelty monogram, the slippers pop against the usual monochromatic scheme of black tie. And I think they looked lovely when worn to the LA Phil.
I don’t own any other evening footwear, so you can expect that I’ll wear these with anything involving tuxedos and dinner/smoking jackets! I’m not complaining as I really love the design of these shoes; the neon piping is actually starting to grow on me!
Spencer was also gifted a pair from Percy, a few weeks after me.. He also liked the idea of getting something animal/novelty themed as crossbones are overplayed and we aren’t a member of any clubs (so no Hasty Pudding). The LEH collection is pretty damn cool, so Spencer went with the Gladius, which features a gladiator fighting a tiger, along with a cream piping.
He hasn’t worn his slippers apart from his black tie ensemble, but I’m sure he’s going to get plenty of wear out of it.
Obviously, because these are my only black tie appropriate shoes, they will be worn with every black tie outfit I wear. I actually wasn’t sure how they would look with the shawl collar DB jacket since it’s a more classic, non-rakish look when compared to the embroidered purple smoking jacket, but I think it worked perfectly! They add the fun factor all on their own. And yes, I opted for navy socks this time.
I actually haven’t worn this rayon-wool dinner jacket in a long time. Like I said, I seldom have any opportunities to wear evening wear so I tend to jump at the slightest provocation. A college friend of mine was getting married and had “black tie attire” on the invitation, so I knew this was my chance to break this rig out! Since that Casablanca evening a year ago, I had the massive 50’s shoulder pads taken out, so the jacket would be a bit more slouchy and typically “Ethan” (more on that later).
Even though its a bit flashy, the bride and groom were quite taken with it and we all had a fun evening.
I’m pretty grateful for Percy and the guys at Stubbs & Wootton for gifting us these cool slippers, which gave us a real chance to talk about this style of footwear. If I’m being honest, they’re priced pretty high, which puts them out of our hands. This makes sense, considering they are a true luxury item, making them worth the price (mainly for the unique LEH designs), though I haven’t handled similar slippers (like Crockett & Jones). I typically just wear black brogue oxfords with my tuxedo since I seldom have these types of events; it really made no sense to invest in evening footwear! At one point, I tried finding some on eBay/Etsy, but to no avail; these were a perfect gift for us.
I’m not really a footwear expert, so I can really just talk about aesthetics and how they fit me. As I noted before, I’m a little iffy on loafers, but these fit fine! When I got the trial pairs, I neglected to take a size “up” from my regular size, so a part of me wonders what an 8 might have felt like. I haven’t worn them too often, but my feet haven’t felt “scrunched” yet or experience any heel slippage. Spencer on the other hand went with a size 10, but says that he should have done trial slippers in order to ensure his accurate size; he put in insoles and has been fine!
As I have not tried any other brand, I can honestly say that you guys should check them out. Again, it’s definitely out of price range for many of us, but if you get something classic (like the plain black or a simple monogram), I think they’re worth it. I actually was considering a pair for a long time since I couldn’t find any thing on eBay in my size; I was starting to have more and more black tie events in my life! I’m very surprised that they reached out to Spencer and me, but we love wearing them and I break them out at any opportunity.
Hopefully, you guys will be inspired by this post to try slippers for yourself, with suits and your tuxedos.
Always a pleasure,