Sunday, March 30, 2008

Is To Flip To Be a Flop?

There’s been a good healthy controversy on the internet lately about proper summer footwear, so I thought I’d dip in a toe.

The Manolo linked to Plumcake’s blog post about how flip flops are acceptable in only certain contexts (a beach or a communal shower, for instance), and I greedily read (and thoroughly enjoyed) the passionate comments, both pro and con.

I grew up on the lovely red sandy beaches of Prince Edward Island, and am quite sure that I never owned a pair of flip flops (or thongs, as we called them). As a child I preferred anything else, finding the flip flop silhouette unsatisfactory (though I wouldn’t have used that language at age ten). I think I’ve always liked eccentric looks and the flip flop was, well, too plain, and not flattering to the foot.

But in recent years, I admit that the flip flop has been immensely easy to wear—as long as I don’t look in a mirror.

Doesn’t that statement say it all? The flip flop is a complete sacrifice of style for ease, perhaps a version of letting one’s footed self “go.” And for someone who is fanatical about the shape and color of shoes, as I am, this knowledge is unacceptable.

What to wear instead, for those days when you pull on a simple cotton sundress or throw on shorts and a well-cut tee? Glads are a possibility (and I have a pair by Cole Haan), but they can sometimes be “too” dressed—and can take too long to buckle! Bonannos can work too, and you get to choose your color combination, but they’re more of a preppy look. (See below.)

One of my favorite--perhaps to be considered a hybrid?--pairs of sandals is by Camper. I bought a pair of Camper "twins" in San Francisco a number of years back, and while I'm definitely NOT into novelty clothing, these twins transcend the cute, I like to think. They are leather flip flops, or thongs, and the left is in the shape of an eggshell-colored dove, while the right is a perfect green line of olive leaves. Odd as they may sound, they're shockingly flattering and wearable. Believe me, I was very surprised to be walking out of the shop with them! (I'll try to take a photo of the sandals when we get some sun.)

So: two questions: What’s your go-to summer sandal shape? Or: is to flip to be a flop?


musette said...

I enjoy a good espadrille. There is a kind made in France called Pare Gabia (i think) . Check out the website But I love my Havianas flip flops too!

lisagh said...

I'm all about the Bonannos. I have 7 pairs and am just working out my new color combos for Summer '08.

enc said...

Espadrilles are brilliant as a casual but not too-casual option, as musette points out above ^^^. I have a pair of flat Manolos that work like flippers, but don't look like 'em. They're the best sandal I have.

miss cavendish said...

Lisagh--I'm thinking about a new pair of Bomannos too. I have only one--pomme and white--and am ready to expand!

And Musette--I had forgotten about espadrilles. So French and lovely. I actually found a pair on the website you recommended by Castaner, but, alas, they were sold out! I haven't seen Havianas in person; what are their good points?

Thumbelina Fashionista said...

I absolutely abhor flip flops for walking. In addition to the two acceptable places mentioned, I believe flip flops are necessary at nail salons. In NYC, your feet get terribly dirty from flip flops, and they don't offer any arch support. I prefer peep-toe wedges or ballerina flats.

riz said...

you post at lightening speed, i have to catch up!

I quite like a structured, simple leather thong to a flip flop. they just look too student-y

Octavine Illustration said...

although i would love to profess that i wear a chic summer sandal but i cannot, i simply will not take of my Reefs, a wonderful Australian flip flop that conform to ones feet and make all other shoes after feel somewhat medieval.

miss cavendish said...

Ahh, enc--I wish I could wear Manolo pseudo flip flops. I've tried but his cuts are simply too narrow for this beach girl (my theory is that one's feet widen, the more time one spends barefoot). My rejected pair had a large, open leather square--so lovely, so impossible for me to wear.

And Thumbelina Fashionista is spot on about the city streets. How unattractive to have dirty feet strolling up 5th Avenue!

I, like riz, also like a simple leather thong. I have a vaguely brownish-pewter pair that I can throw on for a quick errand.

And, unlike octavine illustration, I've never tried Reefs, though I know people who adore their comfort!

musette said...

Havianas are Brazilian flip flops that are uber simple but oh so comfy. I remember reading that they are made of real rubber so they keep the foot safe from heat and harm. They were worn by workers every day.
I'm going to look into this Bonnano's thing you crazy kids are talking about!

Anonymous said...

I love
Bonnano's and Bernardo's (at home) but it's time to put flip flops away after a certain age unless taking an outdoor shower at the beach. My generation (baby boomer) isn't aging gracefully or elegantly; baseball caps and flip flips are part of the problem!

K.Line said...

Personally, I hate the flip flop. I think it's torture for the feet. Between the flat (not great for the arches) the thong (hits an acupuncture point in just the wrong way, according to my mother, an acupuncture physician) and the slippy flip (or should I say flop), it's just not for me.

I do love a delicate sandal with a small heel - ankle strap optional. Just something that stays easily on the feet and looks cute with the summer styles. K

Iheartfashion said...

I hate the flip flop, even for the beach. What's wrong with an elegant slide? I just find them too common, too often seen on pajama-clad college students flip-flopping around the grocery story.

ambika said...

As someone who lives in (an albeit green) city, I dislike flip flops from the stand point that your feet get filthy--and I don't really enjoy looking at *other people's* filthy feet much less my own.

I have a pair of flat Franco Sarto sandals, espadrilles and Fornarina slides for the summer. They range from dressy to casual while being plenty comfortable.