Why slippers are now the must luxurious footwear for men

He's more accustomed to proper, upstanding Oxfords – the sergeant major and solid fellow of the shoe world – but at the Star Wars premiere at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this week the Duke of Cambridge struck a more louche stance in velvet evening slippers.

While they're not a wise choice in the rain, they looked a great deal more elegant than Prince Harry's classic (albeit safe and tried-and-tested) Oxfords and were discreet and low-key enough to work with his traditional black tie ensemble. It's also an example of how, in the midst of Christmas party season, it's worth upgrading your footwear to something more festive and being a tad more adventurous.

Footwear of leisure

It's also fitting that the Prince should opt for a pair; it was his descendants - like so much of men's fashion - that helped cement them as a considered sartorial choice.

The velvet slipper became a viable option for wearing while doling out the brandies in the drawing room during the Victorian era, at the same time the velvet smoking jacket was considered a mainstay of a St James's gentleman's wardrobe, and were patronised by Prince Albert. Eventually creeping beyond the front door threshold, they became a raffish choice for the MGM starlets of the Fifties.

Winston Churchill was also a velvet slipper devotee; The Darkest Hour, a film due out this month that depicts Churchill on the brink of war, also shines a light on his impeccable sense of style. I'm an unashamed fan of evening slippers; in fact a pair sit by my desk ahead of an onslaught of festive events.

Time and place, and confidence

Not for the first time I've had to defend the be-slippered amongst us. The average fellow might be reticent about velvet slippers; they can look a tad dandyish and, in the case of the more ornate varieties, a tad ornate.

They also require a certain degree of ceremony; you certainly can't wear a pair with a suit. Evening wear is required – black tie or at least a shawl collar evening jacket with polo neck. The Prince also wears them with thin black socks; sockless would be better. And all too often, Britain in bleak midwinter doesn't exactly lend itself to plush lustrous velvet – you have to choose your moments.

That said, a slick pair of velvet slippers deliberately sets an evening tone to proceedings. They denote that it's almost certainly time for a cocktail and their innate impracticality is precisely why they are so fitting for the festive season; they're decadent, unnecessary and worn to be enjoyed. No man in velvet slippers is heading to a meeting with his accountant. They are after-dark only, made for the clink of glasses and the crackle of a fire, rakish and ready for whatever the night holds. This more outre strata of men's footwear is worth investigating; you'll feel suitably princely too.

The Telegraph, London

Check out the gallery above for the best slippers for men.