When shopping for the season’s footwear staples, you might get confused when you’re presented with a myriad of styles. Sneakers vs. loafers? Ankle boots vs. combat boots? Sandals vs. slippers? We’d argue that the rearmost battle might not make sense because the two are too different, but…
What’s the difference between sandals and slippers? Whether you’re a die-hard fan of Birkenstocks or a soft, stylish, and comfy slipper devotee, you have to agree that the two terms are tough to differentiate between to the untrained eye. Sandals and slippers sound similar, but they’re not.
Sandals are believed to be the eldest and most commonly found footwear type worldwide. Throughout history, sandals were deemed the simplest form of footwear (and the easiest to produce) and therefore have been found across almost every culture worldwide. Slippers, on the other hand, were a hit, too.
Slippers are believed to have originated thousands and thousands of years ago. We can trace them back to early Cantabrian cave paintings, as well as Middle Eastern, Persian, Arabian, and Italian written documents. People all around the world adore slipping into a comfortable pair of slippers.
We need both as permanent residents of our capsule wardrobe, but you might be wondering whether there’s a way to choose between the two. What are sandals? What are slippers? And what precisely is the difference between sandals and slippers? We’re bringing you all that and more down below.
What are sandals?
Whether you’re scheduled for the hottest summer staycation of your life or headed toward a tropical location for the vacay of your dreams, a new pair of summer sandals can make or break your mood (and we’re rooting for the former). What are sandals, while we’re on the topic?
By definition, sandals are a type of summer footwear that consists of an open upper attached to the sole with a little help from one, two, or multiple straps. Before you go on a shopping spree, you need to know that there are multiple types of sandals available for purchase.
Strappy sandals, stiletto sandals, wedges, espadrilles, slides, and many, many more – sandals are one of the most wearable, versatile footwear options and that’s why they’re popular among people of all ages. We’ve been wearing sandals for a long, long time, but what about slippers?
What are slippers?
Sandals and slippers are similar, but they’re not the same. When we say they’re similar, we’re referring to the fact that both consist of a sole and an upper that’s attached to the sole with straps.
We do, however, need to underline that slippers and sandals do not stand for the same thing – even though the two terms may sound interchangeable. Slippers are typically worn over the winter or when the temperatures drop.
What matters even more is the fact that slippers are typically worn inside, unlike sandals, which are typically worn outside. Slippers are made with soft, comfortable materials and are meant to keep your feet warm, supported, and protected.
Nowadays, some slippers can be worn outside, too, but only during informal and casual events such as barbecues and friendly get-togethers. Slippers fall under a broader category of lightweight footwear, and that’s probably why they’re oftentimes mistaken for sandals or slides.
When you Google “slippers,” you might be surprised to see a bunch of pictures portraying slides. That’s because the two have become somewhat synonymous when designers started blurring the lines between what an indoor shoe and an outdoor shoe looks like.
Sandals vs. slippers: What’s the difference between the two?
We are, however, going to stick to the differences between sandals and slippers. Which of the two wins the sandals vs. slippers battle?
Sandals and slippers have been around for ages, but sandals are a little older. Some of the first sandals ever worn were made of papyrus, palm leaves, and leather, and can be traced back to Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. We’ve uncovered the oldest sandals around the area of Fort Rock Cave in Oregon in the US, though.
Slippers are a slightly newer concept than sandals. We believe that the first slippers ever were worn in the 12th century in Vietnam, but there are mentions and examples of slippers in almost every culture worldwide.
Interestingly, the first slippers ever weren’t made to protect the feet, but rather to protect the expensive carpets at the time.
Now that you know what sandals and slippers are by definition, you know that they’re nothing alike – at least appearance-wise. Sandals are made with high-quality, hard-wearing fabrics, features, and functions that guarantee to get you through a workout, a wedding, or a workday.
Sandals come in many different styles to choose from, too, whether you’re on the hunt for a strappy sandal appropriate for a wedding or a sporty sandal perfect for a hike.
Slippers are made with high-quality fabrics, too, but they’re not as durable, sturdy, or stiff as sandals. Slippers are meant to keep your feet warm, comfortable, and snug. More times than not, you don’t need your slippers to come with arch and ankle support.
Depending on the style you opt for, we’d argue that sandals offer more coverage. Sandals feature straps that wrap around your feet, ankles, and even calves – these straps are designed to provide you with more coverage, stability, and even style.
Strappy sandals, for example, are one of the most popular, prominent styles because everyone adores the strappy design.
Slippers, on the contrary, typically cover the top of your foot and your toes. The difference between open-back slippers, moccasin slippers, and bootie slippers matters, too – depending on the style, slippers can also offer more or less coverage.
Support and slippers might not be BFFs, but nowadays, you can definitely get your hands on slippers with arch support.
Whether you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis or trying to make your feet happy and healthy with a few features and functions they’re not used to, you can count on brands such as Vionic and Orthofeet to come through.
Sandals with arch and ankle support, on the other hand, are super simple to come by. Because of the straps, most sandals that wrap around your ankles and heels come with a level of ankle support. But you might need to dig deeper and opt for orthopedic sandals to get arch support.
We already mentioned that sandals and slippers are made from different materials, and that’s one of the biggest differences between the two. Slippers are made of wool, shearling, cotton, terry cloth, or suede.
Warm materials are a must, but slippers often feature rubber or leather outsoles, too. Sandals are a little difficult to define because the materials depend on the style.
Most often, though, sandals are made of leather, suede, rubber, wood, or even rope. Moreover, bamboo, wood, cork, cellulose, and jute are used for footbeds. Sandals are more durable than slippers, but slippers are more comfortable than sandals. Which brings us to our next point…
We stand corrected – slippers are more comfortable than sandals most of the time, but we can’t forget that there are different types of sandals, too. We’ve witnessed the hype around shearling sandals, sandals made of wool, and even those made of fleece.
We know that slippers are the epitome of comfort because they’re made to keep you comfy and cozy when the temperatures drop. But that doesn’t mean that sandals are uncomfortable by default.
Stiletto sandals and platform sandals might not be the best option when you’re on the hunt for something to keep your feet happy and healthy, but slides and flip-flops are pretty freakin’ neat.
We’ve talked your ears off that slippers are meant to be worn around the house and sandals are meant to be worn outside.
When talking about picking out the right footwear for a particular occasion, slippers are great for Netflix and chill, a barbecue with friends, and watching the sunset from the comfort of your porch.
Sandals, on the other hand, are appropriate for many occasions, depending on the style you opt for. Platforms, wedges, and mules are perfect for date nights and get-togethers, strappy sandals and clear sandals are a staple for weddings and events, and flats are your go-to for running errands.
We can’t forget about the price, right? When comparing sandals vs. slippers, there’s a clear difference in how these two footwear options are priced.
Slippers are typically cheaper than sandals because they’re made of lightweight, breathable materials, and designed to be worn around the house.
Sandals, on the contrary, are more expensive than slippers because they’re made with sturdier, stiffer materials, better construction, and a more fashion-forward design.
Designer sandals can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars for a pair. And while designer slippers do exist, they’re still cheaper than designer sandals. Which of the two would you go for?