Flip-Flops Are Back – And I’m OK With That
Fashion editor Charlotte Collins says she’s more than happy to don her flip-flops this summer...
Remember the days when we all had to teeter around in heels to look good? God they were awful. Once upon a time comfortable shoes were reserved for unfashionable commuters, but now wearable shoes have more than established themselves as part of the fashion zeitgeist. You only need to look at the popularity of Ugg boots and Birkenstocks for proof. I’m certainly not complaining. I’m a busy lady – I don’t have the time (or the fitness levels) necessary to navigate London in impractical footwear. So the promotion of flip-flops from beach essential to fashion necessity this summer is not only a natural progression in the wake of the recent trainer trend, but a rallying cry to women everywhere to officially ditch the heels and embrace comfort, once and for all.
I obviously don’t believe your summer 2019 footwear wardrobe should begin and end with the flip-flop. There is, of course, a time and a place. But street style stars are proving that the net for this said place has been cast wider this season – and whether you team them with satin evening dresses or pretty tops and denim, they’re the ideal way of getting that illustrious high/low balance so right. I’ve already worn mine with tapered trousers and a relaxed white blouse for the office, and with a swishy midi skirt and tight body for a day-to-night look and each time I’ve felt comfortable, cool and still surprisingly pulled-together.
This isn’t just about how they look, however. Trends can so often be impractical, unflattering, hard to style and expensive. The flip-flop is the most democratic thing to happen to fashion since the white T-shirt: they’re cheap as chips, comfortable whatever your physical ability, and literally suit everyone (as long as you’ve had a pedi, that is).
Sure, there are plenty of other practical footwear options out there this summer. But strappy sandals aren’t great for those of us who don’t like their calves, and chunkier styles have an edge that doesn’t quite work for everyone. Flip-flops tick every box going – they even cover the minimalist trend championed by so many designer labels – and now they have the fashion pack’s seal of approval too. You’d be mad to wear anything else.
No… Save Them For The Beach
Fashion assistant Polly Sayer can’t think of anything worse for your outfit.
Karl Lagerfeld once said: "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants." While I’m a lifelong fan of sweatpants, replace the word with ‘flip-flops’ and the quote sums up my feelings towards summer’s symbolic shoe. Sure, they’re comfortable, generally inoffensive and easy to wear, but one thing they are not is chic. So while the Monikh Dales of this world might have gone some way to persuade us that they’re a fashion statement, the reality is flip-flops are a mere convenience reserved for spray tans and pedicures.
Perhaps my university days have made me unfairly biased – the image of burly lads strutting down to rugby training in a pair of Havaianas and sports shorts (in the rain, no less) is ingrained on the backs of my eyelids. It’s enough to put anyone off, and while I’ll admit I do own a pair, I simply cannot envisage a situation where flip-flops are the superior option to the myriad of other pretty sandals available. If there’s one way to ruin a cute outfit, it’s a flip-flop.
In my mind, the general rule of thumb should be that if you’re not on a beach, then ditch them. While they’re great for sliding on and off and protecting the soles of your feet against hot sand, that’s about it – the thought of the grit and grime of central London covering my toes makes me committed to something a bit sturdier. For an injection of practicality that’s still on trend, I’d offer up Prada’s chunky dad sandals or Arizona Love’s bandana wrapped offering – adjustable Velcro straps, plus a soft foam sole that’s like walking on a cloud. What’s not to love?
If you really must embrace flip-flops in the fashion sense, ditch the rubberised originals and try Toteme’s kitten-heeled version or Dear Frances’ chic square-toed flats instead – elevated in soft leather, both provide the easy appeal of a flip-flop with infinitely more style. As for me this summer, I’ll be avoiding any ‘Frenchman wearing sandals’ jokes with a pair of sliders instead.
Tempted to give them a go? Here are the rules to remember…
Stick to plain colours. Monochrome is cool, bright pink is not. The only exception is Havaianas’ signature green and yellow combo, which is perfectly acceptable with white summer dresses.
Don’t go too casual with the rest of your look. It’s important to get that balance right. Add relaxed tailoring and elevated dresses to avoid a beach vibe.
Maintain your feet. Because of their casual nature, flip-flops can be ruined with unkempt toes – make sure you’re summer ready before taking the leap.
Don’t invest. Cheap flip-flops are just as comfortable and look just the same as expensive pairs. Sure, Tibi’s SS19 pair are causing a stir, but save your pennies for more worthy investments.
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