A Flip-Flop Tip Or Two


how to buy the right flip flop for you

‘Tis clearly the season of the flip flop, this was made clear to me at a recent party where I, the designated driver, walked around a packed house with a bottle of Italian soda in my hand for what seemed like hours and avoided the cup cake table, which looked like it was going to collapse in a heap of bright frosting, sugar and flour. Since much of what I do in life is observe, I noted that every single person at the gather was wearing some version of the flip-flop. Every single person. And child. There were a lot of kids there, running around and around.

The point here is that there are ways to select and wear flip-flops that enhance the look of your feet, legs and overall walk–and those that don’t. Here are two tips on selecting your best flip-flop:

Your skin tone. Is your skin warm or cool? In other words, are the undertones closer to blue or orange?

platform flip-flops

Exhibit A: Avoid any flip-flops with Frankenstein overtones

This is actually of some importance when selecting flip-flops, because the shade of the sole and band can either flatter the look of your foot or make it look sallow and pale and not in a good way.

Few deviate from the beige, black or brown flip flop. With the exception of black flip-flops–which I don’t recommend to anyone except those whose skin is a deep shade with cool undertones, and which make light-toned skin with warm undertones look particularly pasty–within the flip-flop world there are enough shade variations to flatter every skin tone. Try a few on in your chosen principal color to see just how much different shades can impact the look of your foot.


Size and shape. Aren’t there some particularly horrible-looking flip-flops out there?  Conversely there are some attractive and classic ones on the market. Hunt this type down. All flip-flops are not equal in construction or style or how they will make you look and feel while wearing them.

classic dr. scholl's sandals in red

The Classic Dr. Scholl's Sandal (approximately $50)

For women: Avoid big and clunky unless…just avoid this type of flip flop. Select a flip-flop style that matches the overall proportion of your feet, ankles and legs. One of the reasons to avoid big and clunky is that they make the girl with the sparrow limbs look like she’s balancing on two flotation devices. Conversely, larger-sized limbs seem amplified by the sheer mass of these flip-flops.

To help support the foot when you walk and add a comely shape to the leg, select flip-flops that offer some support. I am partial to the classic Dr. Scholl’s sandal, which comes in a variety of colors and designs. The mid-range proportion of this sandal, along with its sculpted one-inch heel, falls in-line nicely with almost any leg silhouette. Plus, they last forever.

Alternately, the thin-slip type can look very elegant provided their narrow silhouette does not contrast too much with your foot and leg silhouette. In other words, their spare design looks best on small to medium-sized limbs that have some curve to them. The brand Tkees, seen below, which calls their version “Wearable Cosmetics For Your Feet,” makes these in almost every shade imaginable, which means you can find the shade to flatter your skin tone and make your feet look their most lovely.


Tkees flip flops

For the males in the audience: Heed the above advice, and don’t buy cheap-looking flip flops. Those with some arch support will help display the nice masculine profile of the male leg, whereas the flat-soled kind tend to flatten any of the muscular curves in a man’s leg. And a flip-flop made from quality construction and fine fabrics (leather, suede, canvas) will help announce to others that you are indeed a grown up and not a stray neighborhood kid who has wandered in. I did a canvas of flip-flops for men, labeled “sandals” in the more class outfits, and found that the price difference between a civilized male flip-flop and the kiddie type is pretty slim. The pair below, for instance, are completely casual yet completely grown up and cost approximately $40. (Model: Sperry Top-Sider Santa Cruz)

sperry top-sider santa cruz

I’d like to close out with a cautionary footwear tale: A friend of mine, a marine biologist, says that when his department colleagues want to really dress up, like for a Christmas party or the like, they wear thick socks with their  Teva sandals. Where in blazes would such an idea come from? Not just the idea of Tevas, mind you, but the idea of layering yet another level of horror on them. If you have any ideas, let me know.

And finally, one of my all-time favorite passages on the flip-flop, excerpted from a July 2005 piece by Richard Brookhiser in National Review:

One of the most demanding jobs for women is sexuality, for which the proper footwear is high heels. The informal summertime substitutes for these are flip-flops. Some women may believe that high heels and flip-flops are functionally equivalent, since they both show skin. Flip-flops may even seem more effective, because they alone show toenail polish. This belief is deeply mistaken. High heels give you legs like Angelina Jolie in the “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” poster. Flip-flops give you legs like a Steinway. High heels make the compelling, aggressive tattoo of castanets. Flip-flops sound like water belching from a fire hydrant. Following a woman in high heels up out of the subway is like discovering America. Following a woman in flip-flops up out of the subway is like riding the subway.


3 Responses to “A Flip-Flop Tip Or Two”

  1. Sherry

    Fortunately I hate flip flops and mules, so this is not a horrible habit I get sucked into!

    July 6, 2011 @ 6:40 pm
  2. Constance

    Go Sherry! One of the things that make everyday flip-flop wearing such an easy to get sucked into habit is that they are so easy to kick on and off. You put a pair by the door and then, voila, one or two more, and pretty soon you’re wearing flip-flops every day, all day.

    July 7, 2011 @ 8:40 pm
  3. […] some of my on-the-go nail tips here. And here are some guidelines you may not have thought of when it comes to selecting your best flip […]

    May 20, 2014 @ 11:40 pm

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