Turkish Slippers – Best Foot Forward:

Turkish slippers - come and try them on for size!Turkish slippers are as Turkish as tea, simits and minarets. Plain or fancy, flat or with heels, no home is without them.

“…Anyone who’s ever visited a Turkish home knows not to enter wearing outdoor shoes. Given the state of the pavements both in Kayseri and elsewhere in the country, and the fact that interior cleanliness is highly regarded in Turkey, this makes good sense. Shoes are automatically removed and left outside the door or inside the entry hall. Where they’re placed depends as much on the security of the location as on the owner’s obsession with order. After living in Turkey for a while you quickly learn to think about what shoes you plan to wear when you’re going visiting, and the state of your socks or stockings. You don’t want to be the last one standing alone on the door mat while the host hovers nearby, watching anxiously as you struggle to undo your complicated laces while everyone else is already seated inside. Even worse, once your shoes have finally joined the others in neat rows set out along the walls is not the time to discover the hole in your sock revealing a big toe, and if you’re a woman, a big toenail unadorned by nail polish.

I don’t like wearing slippers because my feet get hot easily, especially inside the overheated apartments favoured by Turks. However, unless the home owner is a good friend, it’s nearly impossible to refuse the proffered slippers. Unfortunately too, form often follows function rather than style. I once spent an otherwise enjoyable night at the home of a student quietly ignoring the feelings of dismay that arose every time I caught sight of the chunky white, strappy, high-heeled sandals I had been given to wear with my all black outfit.

In recounting this fashion faux pas to my colleagues in Kayseri, I learnt that slippers can also be a fashion statement, and are sometimes more expensive than ordinary shoes. There are shops around the country devoted wholly to slippers, offering anything from flat practical models designed to warm the feet to luxurious pairs sporting spike heels, glitter and feathers. Married women from upper class families across the country spend a lot of their days and many of their evenings visiting. They have slippers to complement every outfit, carefully transported from home to home in a drawstring bag specially made to match their outfit. The very wealthy will even buy internationally famous brand name shoes and keep them solely for indoor use.

For families who employ a helper in their home, usually a woman who comes to clean, cook and possibly baby sit, it’s normal for the employer to buy them slippers to wear on the job. The reasons will vary from situation to situation. It could be because they want her to feel welcome, they might worry she won’t want to carry her own slippers with her every day from home or maybe they know she can’t afford to buy herself a nice pair, befitting a guest in their home.

At the other end of the spectrum is the toilet slipper. ..”

You can get the complete lowdown on Turkish slippers in the 2nd Edition of my essay collection, Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City.

About Goreme1990

I’m Lisa Morrow, the person behind www.insideoutinistanbul.com. I was born in Sydney, Australia and grew up a leafy middle class North Shore suburb. After finishing high school I went to Sydney University but failed to find my niche. After working as a public servant, cleaner, sales assistant, waitress, bar maid and car counter, I went overseas. Once there I hitchhiked through the UK, travelled in Europe and arrived in Turkey just as the Gulf War was starting. My three months stay in the small central Anatolian village of Göreme changed my life. On my return to Australia I earned a BA Honours Degree in Sociology from Macquarie University. An academic career beckoned but the call to travel was louder. After several false starts I moved to Turkey and lived there for ten years. In 2017 I moved to Lisbon, Portugal, but continue to travel regularly to Istanbul. In addition to my blog I've written a travel narrative memoir called "Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom: Adrift in Istanbul" and two collections of essays, "Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City" and "Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries". I have a regular segment on San Francisco Turkish radio and in early 2017 I released an audio walking tour called "Stepping back through Chalcedon: Kadikoy Walk", through VoiceMap. In addition I write for various international and Australian magazines and websites, as well as for this blog. A full list of my published articles, with links, can be found on the Writing on Turkey and Writing Beyond Turkey pages.
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6 Responses to Turkish Slippers – Best Foot Forward:

  1. Goreme1990 says:

    I’m not surprised you do this. Whenever I go back to Australia I always feel as if I’m being naughty when I enter someone’s house wearing shoes!

  2. mytravelingjoys says:

    Wearing slippers or house shoes as we call them was one Turkish tradition we still continue even though it’s been 1.5 years since we lived there. It keeps our apartment much cleaner! 🙂

  3. Pelin says:

    Usually if you go gatherings in fancy dressing you can get into with your shoes ( sometimes people put a clean wet cloth on doormat so you can wipe sole of shoes) or mostly you bring cleaned shoes which goes with your dress.

    • Goreme1990 says:

      When I lived in Kayseri people never went in to a house wearing their outdoor shoes. However they did sometimes buy outdoor shoes to wear with a special outfit and these shoes were only ever worn indoors

  4. Goreme1990 says:

    Lucky you! I hate cleaning but then again I love having people around, so I get a reward for my hard work. Glad you enjoyed the read.

  5. backtobodrum says:

    I wish I could be this organised with slippers, but I have a husband (Turkish) who never takes his shoes off in the house and a large dog who thinks slippers are his playthings. Luckily friends and neighbours have long given up on expecting my house to be spic and span and are happy to keep their shoes on.

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