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September 19, 2022 5 min read

Most people know what a slipper is. It's that warm and cozy shoe that you wear around the house, especially on cold winter days. But it seems that everywhere you go people have different names for slippers and house shoes. In some parts of the country a flip flop is considered a slipper, while in others you'd only consider a slipper to be something warm and cozy.

So what's the difference between slippers and house shoes? This post will help you determine which type of footwear is best for you by comparing and contrasting them. We’ll also take a look at how we approach the slippers vs house shoes debate here at Nootkas by using our own products as an example. 

What are Slippers?

what are slippers?

According to Merriam-Webster, a slipper is "a light shoe with no fastenings or laces worn indoors." It comes from the Dutch word s'loffe which means "soft leather shoe." As far as I know this definition still holds true today. If you want to call your sneaker a slipper because it's soft and comfortable then go ahead, but most people would still consider it a street shoe rather than something you'd wear to lounge in your living room.

Slippers are open-toed or open-heeled shoes with no fastenings and may include an insole. They are designed to be worn indoors, usually around the house or apartment. Slippers come in many styles, colors and materials such as leather, suede or fleece material depending on the weather conditions outside where they will be worn. Slippers often have non-skid soles to prevent slipping on hardwood floors when walking around the home or kitchen.


What are House Shoes?

House shoes are a bit more difficult to pin down because there are so many variations on the theme. But according to Merriam-Webster again, a house shoe is "an indoor shoe made of rubber or other soft material."

House shoes are similar to slippers in that they are easy to slip on shoes without fastenings. Unlike slippers, house shoes are more functional because they are meant to offer a bit more versatility, kind of like a shoe. House shoes are typically lightweight and have a thin sole that makes them easy to wear around the house in summer or springtime when it's cool outside but not freezing cold yet. They're usually made from lightweight materials with some sort of textured sole for traction — just enough grip to keep them from slipping around on smooth surfaces like hardwood floors or tile but not enough grip to wear them out in the snow or anything like that. 

what are house shoes?

Here at Nootkas we have our own definition, and we like to keep it simple. To us, slippers have an open back and can be slipped on without bending over or using your hands to get them on. Our Astoria slipper is a perfect example of how easy slippers are to get on and off. A low back mule-style slipper like the Astoria can be slid into and out of without bending over. This makes it an ideal bedroom slipper because you can quickly and easily slip your feet into them in the dark or in a hurry. Mom’s love this feature of the Astoria slipper as well. Hands-free entry and exit is a super convenient thing when your arms are often full. 

Using the slipper definition above - an easy, open back that’s simple to slip-on is a ‘slipper’ it’s easy to arrive at our definition of a house shoe. Simply put, it’s a shoe style you can wear around the house. Shoes have a higher back, which is consistent with our Newport house shoe. They come up higher on the foot and they usually have a bit of structure to them. All of these apply to our Newport house shoe. 

The Newport comes up higher on your heel and for most wearers, you will likely need to bend over to put it on. It comes up higher over the instep (top of your foot) and covers more of the foot all around - much like a shoe. The Newport is also insert friendly - meaning you can add your own if you like a certain custom level of support. There’s enough room all around in the Newport that you can choose to add your own insole without dramatically changing the overall fit of the house shoe. For this reason alone, many customers prefer the Newport over an open back slipper like the Astoria. 

Here are some differences between the Newport House Shoe and the Astoria Slipper: 



What is the difference between a house shoe and a street shoe? 

The difference between a house shoe and a street shoe is that they're designed for different purposes. A street shoe is designed to be worn outside and should be comfortable enough to walk around in all day, while a house shoe is designed to be worn inside the home.

Street shoes are more durable, but they're also heavier and bulkier than house shoes. They'll have thicker soles and less cushioning, which makes them harder to move around in. They're also made with more waterproof materials so you can wear them in adverse weather conditions. Street shoes protect your feet from the elements and also create a protective barrier for your home. When you remove your street shoes at the door you are preventing dirt, germs, and all the nasty things you stepped in while you were out and about. One of the best ways to keep your home clean and healthy is by never wearing your street shoes around your house. 

House shoes are lighter, more flexible, and have softer bottoms so you can move around easily without feeling like you're walking on tile or hardwoods all day long. Folks with cold feet, or sensitive feet should wear house shoes in the house to keep your feet warm, insulated and protected. It’s also a smart practice to leave your house shoes by the front door so that you get in the habit of removing your outside shoes before you come in the house. 

All of our house shoes and slippers are meant to be worn exclusively indoors. This is why we made them with a soft suede sole - they are flexible, quiet, and easy to lounge in. While they can be worn outdoors, we don't recommend it as the suede can get dirty and it reduces the lifespan of the sole. Further, the whole benefit of having a pair of house shoes is so that they can be worn in the house. Wearing them outdoors will expose them to the same dirt, grime and germs that your street shoes protect again. We highly recommend having a pair of shoes - be them house shoes or slippers that you can wear just indoors.