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My cart could’ve been mistaken for a fairy’s the last time I checked out at Ikea. I watched a jar of cloudberry jam, a literal rose-colored glass, a crumpled paper bag full of Swedish gummies, and an aloe vera plant slowly scoot down the conveyor belt; I locked my gaze on them because I was too ashamed to make eye contact with the cashier who was scanning price tags. At the place where you can truly buy almost anything, I had elected to purchase unpleasantly seedy preserves and a plant that later managed to rot itself to death.
While my tiny pink cup has proven to be the perfect size for the category of late-night treats that I do not need to consume but do, like something with an ABV or a scoop of McConnell’s ice cream, I only truly value one purchase I made that day: Ikea’s $1.99 Njuta slippers, which look like sturdier versions of complimentary hotel slippers and are neither particularly comfortable nor flattering but that I nonetheless love. If I can temporarily suspend my ethical issues with regard to cheap, mass-produced goods, I can assert that these slippers are indeed the only pair worth buying.
“Displayed” in a large bin, the pairs come in either S/M or L/XL, neither of which will likely fit you very well. They also apparently come in various colors, though I’ve only ever seen them in black. With grooved, foam-like soles and terry cloth interiors, these slippers are not showy or ornate. They are plain, cheap house shoes into which you slip the dirty bottoms of your feet so you can shield them from the sharp pain of stepping on the stale Cheerio on your kitchen floor that you refuse to sweep up. They’re exactly what you need slippers to be, and nothing more.
They’re also the exact opposite of what I wanted out of slippers during my childhood. Growing up flipping through issues of J-14 and and gazing at Limited Too ads in the late ’90s, I became familiar with images of Pretty Girls Wearing Slippers. Propped up on cushy sofas with their legs tucked to the side, these tropes often wore matching sets of pajamas, and where their feet should be were two fluffy masses of pastel-colored cat- or cherry-embroidered synthetic fuzz. They seemed happy and popular and effortlessly beautiful, the ultimate trifecta, and with a dry sponge for a brain that was ready to soak up directives for how to be like them, I was quickly convinced that hot girls wore obnoxious slippers.
What those images didn’t show is that synthetic material gets matted down under sweaty feet after only a handful of uses, and that wearing a $25 pair of slippers will unfortunately not make you any less lame. While Ikea slippers will also not up your cool factor, they will also not cost you. And, unlike much of fast fashion, rife with jeans that will tear when pulled up by the belt loops or shirts with ready-to-rip seams, these slippers are relatively hard to wear out. I’ve worn them around my apartment every day for eight months, and they don’t look very different from the day I pulled them out of their bin — because they never looked particularly handsome in the first place.