The slipper people


This morning I was standing at a pay point to pay my parking ticket when a lady walked past me on her way to the lift. She wears blue overalls with silver reflective bands sewn on the sides, a light T-shirt and pastel pink slip-on slippers.

I stared at her outfit in bewilderment for a moment and involuntarily wondered if her mother hadn’t taught her the difference between “day clothes” and night clothes.

I then suddenly remembered a notice or three that I had noticed in shops and restaurants. It is clearly stated that no persons with gowns and/or slippers will be allowed on the premises.

I actually find it equally ridiculous that you have to post a notice because someone can’t realize for themselves that a shopping center is not the place for clothes that, in my opinion, are actually intended exclusively for the home.

Even my children have noticed this phenomenon and are equally baffled and asked out loud why people would dress like that when they leave the house. I couldn’t answer. In my household, we don’t go out to dinner or to the store in our gowns and slippers.

Personally, I like to dress nice when I go out to eat or go to work. I prefer more formal corporate wear for the office and more relaxed, but still stylish outfits for going out or even when shopping. However, I also love my washed out T-shirt and bare feet… at home. At home I prefer not to wear make-up and my hair is messy. But, as soon as I go out the front door, I look decent, even if it’s just to go and buy a quick loaf of bread.

“Nice” really only means a little powder on the face, but it doesn’t mean clothes in which I “work in the garden” (I don’t work in the garden) or tidy up the house; it means clean and tidy.

I feel it has to do with respect; respect for yourself and respect for others. How you look, i.e. how you dress and take care of yourself, is just as important as how you behave, no matter what we want to tell ourselves on the subject. You constantly create an image of yourself to others, whether you want to or not. Everything is bitterly organic without you trying and without people deliberately focusing on you and your outfit.

I also believe your clothing shows people how you feel about them and the level of respect you have for them. You wouldn’t turn up in your garden suit at your best friend’s wedding or in your beach clothes at a job interview.

The whole wear-your-slippers-and-japanese-to-the-shop movement baffles me. I actually feel shy and very uncomfortable when I am in such a person’s immediate environment. Now it’s not on the same level as underwear, but I immediately feel like I’m invading that person’s privacy and I honestly don’t really know where to look. These are bedroom things; A degree of intimacy that belongs within the home and with the family where a deeper level of comfort (and acceptance) is the order of the day. Your inner room, I almost want to say, is a place where I don’t belong.

It’s actually so easily measurable: if I don’t live with you, I don’t want to see it and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t expose me to it. I believe this basic principle is something that everyone can take into account. No one wants to be forced to be on this unwanted intimate level with a wild stranger.

Should we perhaps attribute this to cultural differences or perception? We don’t all have the same perspective on the same things. In my house, for example, the rule is that ladies in night clothes will wear a gown when they move around the house outside the privacy of their bedrooms, while not all households have such a rule.

Or maybe it’s a respect thing… where we start to look at the comfort or discomfort caused by certain actions and clothing. Or is it perhaps about freedom of expression? We can probably also ask about the many “day outfits” that show relatively more than a gown!

I don’t have the answers, nor do I know if a gown and slippers must necessarily be the subject of heavy philosophies. In any case, all department stores or specialty stores have made it clear to us a long time ago: night clothes do not match day clothes. There are no boundaries that transcend it and identifications that make it acceptable within the context of the public. I resign myself to that.

The shop and the restaurant are simply not the place. Wear patches and shorts or a dress instead. If you get cold, put on a jacket, but please leave the slippers and the coats at home!