Crockett & Jones has your festive footwear covered this Christmas


They wouldn’t have known it, of course, but the court of Queen Victoria would leave an enduring legacy in the world of footwear. Not only was it the Queen’s bootmaker, Mr J Sparkes-Hall, that supposedly designed the first ‘Chelsea’ boot in 1837, but it was the Queen’s consort, Prince Albert, who allegedly lent his name to the ‘Albert’ slipper, which came to prominence around the same time.

While there’s evidence to suggest that gentlemen had been wearing low-profile, lace-less slip-ons from the early 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1840s that the Albert slipper took on its modern moniker, the Prince having commissioned shoemakers to make him slippers that he could wear around his many royal residences.

The Albert slipper was originally designed to protect expensive rugs and wooden floors that adorned the palaces and grand homes of England from dirt and grime. Roads were made of gravel and sand at the time, so at the risk of ruining polished tiles and hardwood flooring, gentlemen would exchange their outdoor footwear for soft-soled slippers.

By the middle of the 20th century, slip-on-wearing politicians and performers in America were proof that Albert slippers had found popularity across the pond. In 1957, The Rat Pack’s Peter Lawford was pictured wearing a pair at home, while fellow crooner Dean Martin wore his to perform on stage with Frank Sinatra in 1967. In 1963, The Pink Panther starred David Niven as a debonair jewel thief in a pair of Albert slippers. Four years later, senator Robert Kennedy was pictured with his family in Life magazine wearing a pair of his own.

So, what exactly is an Albert slipper? According to Northampton-based shoemaker Crockett & Jones, which traces an unbroken line of production back to 1879, Albert slippers are typically made from velvet and feature a whole-cut upper, where the vamp extends up the foot to form a one-piece tongue. Albert Slippers, Crockett & Jones reliably informs us, tend to sport a leather sole. Which is great if you’re going to keep the safely ensconced indoors. Crockett & Jones’ Christmas duo, however, are designed to be shown off and, accordingly, have been equipped with thin rubber soles to withstand taxi rides and frosty pavements.

What hasn’t been changed, however, are the traditionally extravagant quilted linings, typically wine- or blue-coloured, with decorative embroidery on the toe. And it is the area around the toe that provides an opportunity to get – and you’ll pardon the pun – a little tongue in check.

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Step in – that’ll be the final pun, we promise – Crockett & Jones’s new-for-Christmas-2022 Santa and Snowflakes house slippers. The gent’s slippers see Santa and his reindeer dashing through the snow, while the lady’s pair features intricately-embroidered snowflakes on their toes and sides. Both are cut from navy velvet and are handmade in England.

May we suggest pairing the slippers with coloured socks and a matching shirt as Clark Gable was pictured doing during the 1950s. That, or with your kitschiest Christmas jumper.

’Tis the season for twee sartorial choices, after all.

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