Believe it or not, Vogue is more likely to be a place to tell you that you can wear something rather than not, ergo, one need not stick to heels on the red carpet even on the most prohibitive red carpets, outdated in their dress codes. When one of us comes out against something, we do so with fervor and with very good reason—the faux–Native American headdress remains the ultimate No in our book.
And now, for reasons not exactly political, but ergonomic, hygienic, environmental, aesthetic, and on, and on, I submit to that list of Don’ts: the flip-flop.
In other realms of the world I am radically minded, but admittedly in matters of shoes, I draw a few lines. I have never been a wearer of a Birk, as so many of you out there are, or a Teva, or even a pool slide—but I’ll give you all those in their classic and Fausto Puglisi or Céline-ified iterations; in fact, plenty of you wear them quite nicely, thank you very much. Feel free to go ahead and laboriously lace up your gladiators and slip-and-slide on your mules all you like. Men, a mandal, only if you must, though know I will judge you harshly for it—and let the record, by the way, show that my hate does not discriminate. My exclusion of the flip-flop is gender-inclusive and unrelenting. Take them to the beach, take them to the pool, but apart from that, take them off! When it comes to shoes in summertime, I am all about a sandal, high or low; a slip-on, a loafer, an oxford, a clog, a high-top Chuck, a high heel slung over a bicycle pedal, a boot; even a boat shoe. There is room in my shoe closet for many, many things, and not a single one of them is a flip-flop.
Around for eons (an early version makes an appearance on the walls of Egyptian tombs) and since in wood, rice paper, papyrus, foam, rubber, dollar-store, and designer iterations alike, the flip-flop is quite used to being dogged: It’s the perennial haters-gonna-hate-us shoe, historically loathed for its flimsy construction, its unattractive thong design, its noisy flapping, its inherent filthiness (the telltale black footprint it transfers to its wearer, the residue it traps—e.g., the flip collected by all that flop), and one would have to admire its refusal to disappear, its resilience in the face of all that dislike . . . that is, if it didn’t simply fall apart ALL THE TIME. Defend the flip-flop? What, apart from briefly shielding me from the scald of a blazing hot beach for about half a minute, has it ever done to defend me?
Oh, you say. But flip-flops are “in.” Flip-flops are “back.” Flip-flops are “chic.” (No, you didn’t really say that, did you?) Flip-flops are flapping down the runway. Well, yes, we did just see them at Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior’s resort shows, didn’t we? For one thing, because Nicolas Ghesquière’s Palm Springs runway was set in Bob Hope’s backyard . . . BY A POOL. And because Raf Simons staged his show in the fabulously modern bubble house belonging to Pierre Cardin: If you live in a place that fabulous, you can wear pretty much whatever you want—after all, you’re never going to want to leave it anyway.
But step out of the house, off the beach, away from the pool, and onto the street in a flip-flop, and you, my friend, are dancing with danger (as much as one can dance in a flip-flop that is). For the flip-flop is a born liar; it is the shoe equivalent of an umbrella, masquerading as protection, yet plotting the moment to self-destruct, fall apart, and savagely let you down, just when you need it the most.
I’m thinking, of course, of the legendary Wasted Guy at Coachella, whose heroic, Sisyphean struggle to regain his shoes and his dignity, will go down in the annals of YouTube history, just as he went down, again and again, felled by not only his own personal excesses but his abysmal choice in footwear. Did no one love Wasted Coachella Guy enough to steer him to a proper shoe? And, once he finally regained a shred of composure and his shred of a shoe, was it all really worth it?
Laugh at Wasted Coachella Guy, and you are also laughing at yourself: whether you are an innocent shirtless dadbod tourist, shepherding your family around to the sights and collecting souvenirs of the city’s grime in your pain-addled wake; whether you are a Madison Avenue beacon of professional chic, all modern-day leaning-in boss and Mad Men polish from head to . . . oh, no; whether you are downtown cool, spraining your poor unsupported ankles on the cobblestones of SoHo or risking them to the germy dark of an after-hours club floor. There is no power or grace in a flip-flop, no elegance, no toughness. As for its supposed ease, well, will someone please tell me exactly what is so great about wearing a shoe in which you can neither run nor hide?
Let me transport you to a moment in Austin, Texas, when a boyfriend and I blithely followed an overly confident friend to a secret swimming hole he swore he knew of in the woods, one so secret, in fact, that afterward the dodgy path we’d taken had all but vanished. It was late afternoon, the sunlight through the trees above rapidly dimming, and we traced it to the nearest clearing—a very long way, it turned out, from where we’d left the car. What was another couple miles, we thought, once we reached the roadside? It was a beautiful day for a walk, even one along the highway at sundown. And then, without warning, issuing forth from the shoes I’d idiotically worn for the occasion, came the all too familiar separation of thong from sole—my flip had flopped.
Later I would recount the story of how I had then trudged the last two miles on the asphalt like an ill-prepared pilgrim; back home, I plunged my dirty feet in a tub and remains of my shoes in the trash—those would, I swore, be the last pair of flip-flops ever to touch my toes. Little did I know how lucky I was to end up barefoot: Later that summer, my buddy Nick arrived on what would become his band’s famous “cane tour,” in which he spent leaning on the classic old-man wooden hook he’d adopted in one hand and gripping the mic with the other. Back home, an innocent dash through the rain toward a waiting car had turned to peril when his flip-flops slid out from beneath him on the wet pavement, he went for a spill, fracturing a toe in the process. At least, he says now, “I got out of a lot of loading in and out on that tour, so there’s a bright side, I guess!” Plus, a cane makes a pretty sweet dance prop.
It’s not just short-term fractures that this shoe can instigate, though the U.K. reports some 200,000 flip-flop-related injuries a year. Whether environmentally wasteful, practically disposable slabs of foam or “better” versions such as the FitFlop, the design still requires the wearer to grip with the toe, shortening your stride, sending your ankles rolling inward, and triggering long-term damage in the bones of the feet, the muscles of your legs, pain in your back. And really, if you’re going to risk your health on a shoe, don’t you at least want it to be on one that is actually a little bit attractive, or at the very least a little bit cooler than a slip of lousy rubber?
And so, I speak to you as the friend that Wasted Coachella Guy clearly did not have on that fateful festival afternoon. I speak to you as someone who has been there, who walked down those lonely streets, flipping along to myself; as someone who has flopped and landed, on her own bare feet, never to make those same mistakes again. Join me, friends, and move on.
And now for the other side of the story: how one writer fell in love with the flip-flop.
The post Is It Time to Drop the Flip-Flop? A Vogue Writer Takes a Stance appeared first on Vogue.
BEAUTY TIPS & UPDATES BY GABBY LOVE! –Get free shipping everyday on orders $ 35+ at Beauty.com plus earn 5% back!
Gabby Loves Avon #2-