Someone needs to recreate these needlepoint goat-embroidered shoes ASAP.
Tuesday was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which means Twitter is abuzz with photos of the most important item in his wardrobe: a pair of green and gold carpet slippers embroidered with goats. While Lincoln’s most famous sartorial flourish is his stovepipe hat, he was also known to receive visitors in this pair of wool shoes now in the collection of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Ohio.
More than a century before Wilbur Ross attempted to ruin slippers forever with his Stubbs and Wootton obsession, an English visitor in 1864 praised Lincoln for opening the door to him with mussed hair and “feet enveloped in carpet slippers.” So renowned was Lincoln’s relationship with these slippers that a historian published a book in 1945 titled, Abraham Lincoln Deals With Foreign Affairs: A Diplomat in Carpet Slippers. It’s refreshing to think of President Lincoln relaxing in shoes worthy of a fancy rich man embroidered with little goats; they imply a kind of whimsy with which we don’t often associate him. (Of course, the fancy rich man of today wouldn’t be able to resist embroidering them with some kind of lame play on “G.O.A.T.”) They make you reconsider Lincoln’s style a bit: that hat and long black coat always seemed a little serious, but there was something a little funky about them, too!
The slippers were given to Rutherford B. Hayes by a man who served as a tutor to Lincoln’s sons, along with a note that read, “Sir, Please accept the accompanying slippers. They were worn by the late President Lincoln up to the day of his murder.” (Which is intense, but okay! President Hayes was a renowned recipient of bizarre gifts: also in his collection is “a small pig made from a lemon with match stick legs and a curly tail made of twine.”)
AS IF THAT WEREN’T ENOUGH: when Daniel Day-Lewis played Lincoln in a little film called Lincoln,the film’s costume designers created an exact replica of the slippers, which Day-Lewis can be seen wearing as he puts his son Tad to sleep and wanders through the White House halls trying to figure out how to save the United States. Day-Lewis is renowned for his interest not only in his own wardrobe, but that of the characters he plays. One wonders if Day-Lewis, who is renowned for his interest not only in his own wardrobe but that of his characters, had a hand in “reproducing these slippers 100 percent,” per an email from one of the costume designers to the Hayes Center. According to absolutely no one except my own internal fantasy, perhaps Day-Lewis kept the slippers afterwards as a souvenir from the film. Could we one day see them integrated into his Carhartt art handler finesse? Perhaps! But for now, between Tom Ford, Celine, and Palace, the sleazy loafer is definitely trending–so it can’t be too long before someone releases an homage to these goat slippers originated by—sorry—the GOAT president.