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What are Mule Shoes?

Sheri Cyprus
Sheri Cyprus

Mule shoes have a closed toe and no back. Mules are also called slip-on shoes because their completely backless styling allows the feet to just slide into them. There are many different types of mule shoes, from sporty to dressy styles for both men and women.

Men's dressier mules are usually a neutral color with a dress loafer style of front. The toe may be rounded or have a slight point. Women's dressy mule shoes may be floral patterned, glittery, metallic, or made of shiny leather. Some women's dress mules are made of velvet or other plush fabrics.

Casual mules may be made of canvas and styled like a sneaker without laces. The soles are often thick rubber that is contoured to fit the feet. These informal types of mules are popular for casual looks with jeans, shorts, or exercise wear.

Winter mule slippers can be made from suede.
Winter mule slippers can be made from suede.

Mule shoes should have a wide, rounded toe box area to allow the toes enough room to sit comfortably without feeling crammed. Heels should fit within the edge of the open back. If they don't, the mule is too small. Not only will an overhanging heel look unflattering in the mule, the shoe's edge could dig uncomfortably into the bottom of the foot.

Mule styles of slippers are designed for wearing around the house rather than outdoors. They often have rubber souls and are made in both adult and children's sizes. Mule house slippers are especially popular in summer, since the open heel allows some air to reach the feet. Winter mule slippers may be made of suede and feature real or faux fur trim as well as warm sheep's wool lining.

Casual mules may be made of canvas and styled like a sneaker without laces.
Casual mules may be made of canvas and styled like a sneaker without laces.

Chunky wood heeled mule shoes are called clogs. Clogs, with their wood heel and leather or synthetic upper, were inspired by traditional Dutch wooden shoes. Dutch wooden shoes are all wood and also classified as mules since the tops are closed and the backs are open. The wood and leather clog mules were popularly worn with some of the fashions of the 1960s and 1970s.

Mules may also be called slip-on shoes.
Mules may also be called slip-on shoes.

In the early 2000s, the clog evolved into a trendy non-wood style thanks to the Crocs™ company founded by George B. Boedecker Jr. Crocs™ mule shoes are made of a soft plastic, or resin, and are available in a rainbow of colors. They are worn by both adults and children. The flexible plastic and easy slip-on appeal have made Crocs™ mules popular to wear by many people when gardening, on a boat, or at the beach.

Discussion Comments


Several of my friends own glittery ladies' mule shoes. Two of my friends have silver pairs, and one has a hot pink pair.

They appear to be covered in glitter, but I think that the fibers they are woven with are just metallic. Either way, they definitely attract attention.

It is a bit strange to see them wearing these shiny mules. Years ago, shoes this flashy were only worn by children. Now, adults everywhere are joining the trend.

These mules offer two things you normally won't find in one pair of shoes. They are extremely dressy, and at the same time, they are comfortable. This is a rarity in ladies' shoes.


I had avoided getting mule slippers for the winter, because I thought my heels would get cold. After I received a fuzzy pair as a gift, I found out I was wrong.

I wear long fleece pajama pants during the cold months, and these extend down and cover most of my heel. Since the warm mule slippers cover the front and sides of my feet and I always wear socks, I am not exposed to the cool air.

The slippers are so plush that my feet sink right into them, as though they were cushions. They are much more comfortable to walk on than my hardwood floors, and they give me the support that I need.


@bagley79 – Mules do make life a lot simpler at the doorway! My washer and dryer are in the utility room inside my carport, so I have to go out there often, and it is so nice to have a shoe that can slip on and off easily.

I bought some sneaker mules to wear around the yard, but they looked so cute that I wound up wearing them everywhere. They are gray, so they will go with anything that I wear, and they look just like nice sneakers.

I wear them to get the mail, play outside with my dogs, and do the laundry, but I also wear them while grocery shopping and exercising. The only time I don't wear them is when it is raining, because my socks will get wet in the back.


@golf07 – I also think Crocs are hideous, but like you, I do have certain places that I wear them for comfort. I wear them when I walk for exercise, and though I hate being seen in them, it is worth to have comfortable mules.

Every day on my lunch break, I go to the park and walk on the paved trail. Since I wear dress shoes to work, walking in them is not an option.

I had heard people raving about how comfortable Crocs are, so I decided to buy a pair. They weren't kidding. I can walk for twenty minutes in those mules with no pain at all.

The pair I have are black and full of holes. In the summertime, it is nice to have the air circulation to keep my feet cool. I chose black because it will go with anything.


No matter what time of year it is, I always wear slippers when I am in my house. Every pair of slippers I own is a mule style.

My winter mule slippers are lined with a warm fleece lining. If I want to slip my feet in something warm when I get up in the middle of the night, these are the perfect choice. I have a lighter pair of mule style slippers that I like to wear when it is warmer outside.

When I was a kid I had a pair of wooden brown mule shoes that were clogs. We live close to a Dutch community and every year they have a tulip festival. Many of the kids and adults wear these mule shoe clogs during their festivities.


I do agree that mule shoes are comfortable - only as long as they fit you right. I bought a pair of black mule shoes that I planned on wearing with jeans when I was out and about running errands.

I tried them on at the store in a hurry, and they felt comfortable then, but I didn't walk around in them until later.

I wish I had bought a size that was a little bit bigger, because my heel hangs over the end a little bit. If I have on a heavy pair of socks, this is really noticeable.

Because my jeans cover it this is not noticeable to anybody else, but it sure bothers me. The bottom of the shoe is constantly cutting into my heel every time I walk.

That is the only reason I don't like these mule shoes. Other than that, they are a comfortable, casual shoe that I like to wear on the weekends.


When I think of mule shoes the first thing that comes to my mind is Crocs. While I admit they are very comfortable, I just think they look ugly.

I do own a pair of these casual mule shoes, but only wear them at the beach or as a shower shoe if I want to protect my feet. They do make great beach shoes because they stay on your feet and it is easy to get the sand off your feet.

I don't see as many people wearing the traditional look of the Crocs mule shoe as I used to. My daughter has a newer pair that are a comfortable dress shoe. They are much nicer looking than the traditional rounded toe look.


I have a lot of different styles of mule shoes. You will find everything from dress mule shoes to athletic mule shoes in my closet.

The biggest reasons I like them is they are so comfortable and easy to slip on and off. You don't have to worry about bending down to tie your shoes - just slip them on and you are ready to go.

When you get in the house and your hands are full, they are so easy to slip off your feet.

Most of my dress mule shoes have more of a pointed toe and a heel. This way I can have a dressy look, but still have the ease of putting them on and taking them off.

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    • Winter mule slippers can be made from suede.
      By: PRILL Mediendesign
      Winter mule slippers can be made from suede.
    • Casual mules may be made of canvas and styled like a sneaker without laces.
      By: Nomad_Soul
      Casual mules may be made of canvas and styled like a sneaker without laces.
    • Mules may also be called slip-on shoes.
      By: goce risteski
      Mules may also be called slip-on shoes.