The square-toed, flat-heeled slipper had dominated lady's shoe fashion since the 1820's. Whereas the elegant satin slippers of those years had been worn both in and out of doors the square-toed mule was used exclusively at home. The development of practical outdoor leather boots for women by the 1850's meant that slippers became an essential part of a lady's wardrobe.
Some women embroidered the ready-made uppers of their slippers themselves although it is difficult to say whether this was the case here. The number '38' is stamped onto the leather sole at the toe and this denotes its size under the French system. Although standardised sizes in shoe-making had been in existence since the seventeenth century it was only during the nineteenth century that makers began to include this information on the shoe itself.