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COVID Made Me Wear My Slippers to Starbucks

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I’ve been wearing a lot of slippers these pandemic days, but it’s a slippery slope when you start showing up to Starbucks in them.

True story, but I recently parked my car to dash into said coffee shop and, while standing at the parking meter, realized in abject horror I was still wearing my house slippers. We’re talking straight-from-Costco fuzzy slip-ons, not Gucci’s Princetown shearling mules or Adidas hipster slides. Worse, they were paired with sockettes because I had fully intended to slip on my running shoes, which were sitting at the front door. A Sophie’s choice of caffeine presented itself. How desperately did I want that coffee? Badly, it turned out.

Aside from retirement homes, there are few other places where slippers are considered fashion material. And legions of celebrities have been caught red-handed—or flat-footed—in them when entering the first phase of their mental breakdown (my heart goes out to you, Britney Spears). But that was then; this is now: the COVID-19 landscape. So, really, on the spectrum of (ab)normal, what’s a pair of house slippers in public when we’re all collectively nonplussed by restaurant servers speaking to us through muffled masks, public bathrooms shuttered everywhere, and sentinel-like hand sanitizers as the price of entry to all stores?

I’m beginning to wonder if COVID-19 has the potential to be a seismic sartorial game-changer, much like how Lululemon reimagined the equivalent of wearing long underwear. From athleisure to bathleisure, slippers in the street have the same potential to look luxe Liberace or lazy, depending on the eye of the beholder. I see tremendous opportunity here.

A quick search for “Why do people think it’s okay to wear house slippers in public?” on Quora yields a multitude of views on this topic:

“The only acceptable reason for wearing slippers outside the home is a health condition that makes it impractical or painful to wear shoes. Even then, those fuzzy slippers aren’t designed for the Walmart parking lot, and they shouldn’t be taken back to bed or the sofa with the large amount of filth they now carry. If slippers on the go are a must, buy two pairs: one for the home and one for public use.”

or

“Oh, gosh, I have no idea!

I just don’t understand it.

I’m going with laziness.”

or

“Who knows?

Maybe they just look like slippers.

Maybe the person is absent-minded and forgot to change.

Maybe they don’t care because they’re comfortable.”

I think the last is the reason I went for the coffee. Or, rather, two reasons: absent-mindedness and comfort. It’s our new normal.

I draw the line at housecoats, though.


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July 8, 2020