We Investigate: Can Flip Flops Be Cool?

I have recently rediscovered flip flops. This probably sounds every bit as curious as it is, namely because it seems unlikely that one should have to rediscover such a ubiquitous style of shoe. But I ask you to consider the following question: when’s the last time you wore your flip flops as an intentional style choice? That is, to add pepper to the dish that is your outfit? An unlikely but much welcome punctuation point to the end of your sentence? I can go on but these metaphors tend to stop making sense around the third try and you have probably drifted into the vast and nostalgic world of early 2000’s paparazzi shots of O.C. actors and the like… Am I right?

Paris Hilton (by Lester Cohen/WireImage via Getty Images)

But who’s responsible, really, for this recent interest in “taking back” flip flops?

My guess is Fashion.

Louis Vuitton and Dior started seeding the idea of thong-style rubber sandals worn with ready-to-wear for their respective Resort 2016 collections last May. When I first saw them, I guffawed. Then I wrote about them while I was guffawing. Then, when Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent put out a pair with a rainbow sole and asked for $475 for them in February, I near lost my shit, and wrote about that, too.

But here I am. Understanding both the acute manipulative power of high fashion but also that I might still be letting loose. When I set out to get dressed this morning and surmised that I would wear flip flops, I felt indelibly liberated. Like I was free from trends, that no one could say anything about me I wouldn’t say myself. When I look down, I feel curiously empowered by the lack of statement I’m making through this statement and so if you’d like to try it for yourself, here’s what you should know. (Other than, I suppose, that it is so clearly August and the fashion cycle is so clearly on hold, I am seriously intellectualizing a pair of flip flops.)


1. Don’t Overthink It. When styling your flip flops, forget athleisure and normcore and all the cues that have defined the fashions of recent years and instead focus on your classics. Have a favorite pair of jeans? And a button down shirt? Great! They will look so neat with your flip flops. Here’s also a great place to explore your ACCESSORY BOUNDARIES. That is, how far can you take your limbs before you’re actually strength training while you type?


2. Do Clean Your Toes. I’m not a particularly large fan of painted toenails unless they are done the French way but do appreciate a clean set of toes just as much as the next nail technician. If you’ve been meaning to get a pedicure but have been putting it off because, whatever, now’s your chance to marvel in the glory of a foot rub and heel scrape. Go for it.

3. Ask Not What Your Flops Can Do For You, But What You Can Do For Them. I’m still not completely sure what this one means. Get back to me in twenty.

4. If You’ve Spent All Summer in Blisters, Congratulations! You’re Relieved. This one is pretty self-explanatory but basically you’re wearing sneakers, only you’re entirely exposed from the ankle down. Run a marathon if you want. Yolo.

Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; slideshow via Getty Images and Vogue Runway.


Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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