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What are Clog Slippers?

By C. Ausbrooks
Updated Feb 22, 2024
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The term clog slippers refers to a type of shoe or sandal comprised primarily of wood. Clog boots are made with thick wooden soles and have high leather sides. They sometimes come with steel toecaps and reinforcing inserts to protect the sole of the foot. Special kinds of clog shoes are available for clog dancing, or clogging, with taps on the soles. These are similar to tap shoes, but the taps are free to click off each other, creating a unique sound.

Presently, clogs refer to any kind of comfortable slip-on shoes. Most are now made primarily out of leather, but a few models still have the wooden soles. When gardening, clogs made completely out of rubber are used, due to their easy clean up. Some clogs come with raised heels, and it is accepted that both men and women can wear high- or low-heeled clogs. Wooden clog slippers are still commonly worn by workers in mines, factories, and farms.

Original clog slippers are made out of willow and poplar woods, and are considered a form of national dress in Holland and Sweden. Wooden clogs have passed all modern safety requirements for use in work places, and they are considered beneficial for the feet. They aren’t as widely worn in modern times, but they still see use by gardeners and farmers.

In England, slats of wood were secured with thongs to raise the feet off of muddy man-made roads. These were known as patterns and were worn over shoes made of leather or fabric. Impoverished people who were unable to purchase shoes wore the patterns directly against their skin. English clog slippers and patterns were typically made of Scottish birch or alder.

Clog slippers quickly rose in popularity with the British during the Industrial Revolution. The influx of jobs created a high demand for inexpensive, strong footwear. Clogging is said to have originated from factory workers, dancing during breaks to entertain themselves. This became a national pastime in 19th century England, and competitions were commonly held in music halls.

Clogs were also worn in France, where they were called sabots. Like in England, sabots were primarily worn by factory workers, farmers, and miners. The term sabotage was formed when unhappy workers threw their sabots into machinery to intentionally cause malfunctions.

In recent years, clog slippers have begun to make a comeback, with use in the United States. The difference being that in Europe, clogs are used primarily for work, while in the United States, they are used for fashion and style. Some new styles of clogs include soles up to 8 inches (20 cm) high.

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Discussion Comments
By bagley79 — On Jun 15, 2011

I have a pair of leather clog slippers that I have worn for years. The leather just doesn't wear out, and the clog style is so comfortable that I have a hard time getting rid of them. They are warm and comfortable for any time of the year.

I wear slippers most any time I am in the house, and love being able to slip these on any time of the day or night. I will also wear them outside to get the paper, mail or even for quick errands because of the hard soles on the bottom.

By myharley — On Jun 13, 2011

My bright blue rubber gardening clogs are kept by the back door all season long. They are so easy to slip on when I am ready to go outside and work in the yard. Because of the rubber material, they are also so easy to clean up when they get dirty and muddy.

I don't like clogs just for gardening, but also have my favorite pair of clog slippers. Many womens slippers are made in this style because they are so easy to slip on and off without bending down.

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