Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Harry examines men in flip flops


Harry Fenton, the Sharp Dressed Man, discusses the Male City Flip-Flop:

You’re not at the beach. So why are you wearing flip –flops?

I don’t actually say this, of course, but kind of want to when I see a would be modish youth on a mission on the streets of London. I don’t have any problems with the retro T shirt. Nor the ironic vinyl shoulder bag. And it’s their choice to wear downright ugly sunglasses. But flip flops?

Ok, the sun may have come out. It may actually be hot. But the city is not the beach. Sometime in recent years street smart became street casual. It then osmosed into downright scruffy. And from there it has spawned a sort of ‘I’m so laid back it’s like I’m on holiday, man’ look.

Just so wrong. Mens’ feet are ugly. They will get dirty in the city. Flip flops just have to be a health hazard on public transport. Or even crossing the road. And they look just plain stupid.

Don’t they have friends to point this out to them?

‘Beneath the pavement is the beach’: one of the more lyrical 1968 Situationist slogans in Paris. The classic Situationist text is, of course, The Revolution of Everyday Life. But I don’t think wearing flip flops is the kind of revolution Raoul Vaneigem* had in mind. ( But, hey, I might be wrong)

* [Me neither, LG]

29 comments:

Gi said...

I wear a pair of baby blue flip flops when I am milling around in the office. I usually wear sky-high heels so to give me legs a break I switch out as soon as I get to the office. When I am meeting a client or out on the streets though, I don't wear them.

Anastasia said...

Pedicure. It's not just for women. Really.
So we agree that flip flops are out of the question for men, but what can guys really wear - mandals? Birkenstocks?
I think finding summer footwear for men is a lot more difficult than finding something for women (me, I walk into a store and go Imelda Marcos).
Any suggestions? Links appreciated.

Harry Fenton said...

I agree that finding summer footwear for men is a lot more difficult. There really isn't much variety around. I don't go for Birkenstocks, but at least they look like they are practical, if not stylish. Flip flops fail on both counts. Canvas used to be the summer material for mens shoes, and I guess something like Converse would be the closest available approximation. But they are a tad youthful. In the city, I would suggest the southern European default of loafers. Not espadrilles , which may be more stylish than flip flops , but fail on the practicality level.

lagatta said...

Flip flops on city streets are dangerous - they really expose you too much to the various substances and objects too often found there...

I really have no problem with sandals on men as casual wear. But then, I'm an artist. Agreed, Birks are ugly (but they people I know who wear them know that too and are wearing them for unfortunate ortopedic problems). Not all men have ugly feet.

I know a Basque fellow (from Bilbao, not a quaint village) who would disagree with you about espadrilles, but although the Basque country is not as dry as many Spanish regions, it is certainly not as rainy as London. By the way, this fellow comes to mind as one of those innately sharp dressers (and I've only met him in casualish situations) one often encounters in Southern European countries. When studying in Italy, the well-turned out men - of all ages - were a great pleasure to the eye.

The exception to the above rule involves the sort of middle-aged Italian men who wear mirrored sunglasses ... and flip flops. You can well imagine the rest of the outfit.

Linda Grant said...

What about deck shoes? Obviously YOU wouldn't wear them Harry, but other men I know do and look okayish. Though the other men of whom I speak are not sharp dressed men, like you (apart from that white thing you were wearing the other week.)

greying pixie said...

Yes, lagatta, I was thinking of Italian men whilst reading Harry's article. The style of men's shoes most worn in Italy in summer are the woven leather type, or really beautiful mocasins made of a single layer of fine leather with leather sole. But then Italian men don't wear shorts in the city either. I don't think I've ever met an Italian wearing flip flops except at the beach.

Mary said...

Dying to know what the white thing was ..... ?

Deja Pseu said...

Flip flops are a pandemic here in LA. We even were unsuccessful at banning them in my office because the staff outcry was so great. I think they generally look sloppy (on women, too, regardless of pedicure status) and wouldn't be caught dead wearing them except around the pool or for an hour after my pedicure while my polish dries.

Arabella said...

I'm with deja pseu.
The only nice thing I can think of to say about men in flip flops is that they don't waddle when walking in them. Women really waddle.

Anonymous said...

Arabella, speak for yourself! :)

Geri

Miss Janey said...

It's not just the men- whose feet usually ARE ugly, since most won't buy themselves a pedicure. It's the ladies, too. More people should take a cue from Keisha Whitaker (Forest's foxy wife): "I wear flip flops to the beach, not to lunch."
Aside from being hideous, they're very bad for feet and backs.

Anonymous said...

Right on, Harry! Few things in life are as hideous as mens feet, speaking from the male perspective, and having to see exposed mens feet in public places, especially the supermarket, makes my day a bit less pleasant.

Anonymous said...

The title of this post made me feel a little sick!

Fisherman type sandals are the coolest. And, I think men of all ages can wear Converse or other old-style deck shoes or canvas slippers.

-- desertwind

R said...

The source of frequent protracted rows in the R-P household. Hooray for Harry!

Belle de Ville said...

Flip flops on men..hell, I don't even want to see my own feet in flip flops.

Bwca said...

what's aFrenchman wearing flip-flops called?

Phillipe Fillope !

seilduksgata said...

I don't quite get the point of this post - no, flip flops aren't the most stylish or practical choice of footwear, I don't wear them in cities myself, but surely most of these men are wearing them because its hot and they aren't too bothered about being stylish, rather than because they are trying to look their best and have 'got it wrong' ? I doubt that these guys are standing in front of the mirror before they go out and admiring the way the flip flops perfectly complete their look...

miss cavendish said...

I like a handsome leather fisherman's shoe/sandal, with a closed toe. That way gents can still feel a little breeze during the hot summer days, but maintain a healthy degree of coverage.

Mopsa said...

Mens feet are ugly? All of them? All the time? Nah.

metscan said...

Oh this picture really says it all. I´ve seen too many alike. Disgusting truely.. It has been ages I have had flip flops. They are really painful to wear.

Anonymous said...

Hey Harry, shouldn't you be a Sharply Dressed Man, without flip-flops?

phyllis said...

Oh Gawd - deck shoes, which are never worn with socks. Here in Boston that denotes a certain type of hard drinking (Tanguery & Tonic) guy with a trust fund, a sailboat and a big house on Cape Cod or in Marblehead that has been in the family for 100 years. He is always a lawyer or an investment banker. And he always wears the collars of his RL Polo shirts turned up.

*Shudder*

Anonymous said...

This post comes off as sexist, IMHO. I don't find flip flops worse on men than on women. A little attention is required to grooming of the feet, if they will be exposed. Some people have very ugly feet, and if toenails are missing, deformed, black and blue, or beset with toenail fungus, a closed toe would be more decent.

As for men's sandal choices, I agree a fisherman sandal or a Huarache is most sophisticated. And Birks and athletic sandals (Tevas or Chacos) or leather thong flip flops are reasonable casual wear. Yes the plastic flip flop is worst for guys and gals. What perplexes me most is the propensity to risk hypothermia in exposed toes, by wearing the flip flop when it is NOT HOT outside.

StyleSpy said...

Because I didn't plan ahead yesterday, I had to buy a pair of flip flops at the nail salon to walk from my pedicure to my car, and then from my car to my apartment. In that short time the sound of the things nearly caused me to run mad. I do not understand how anyone can stand wearing them. They are slovenly and unattractive on men, women, and everything in-between. I'll allow them if you are at the pool or beach or under the age of 13. Other than that, put on some proper shoes or stay in the house. Period.

Open shoes in the city in general are problematic to me -- very risky. I lived in NYC for 7 years and I don't think I bought a single pair of sandals the entire time -- I was too nervous about what I might encounter on the city sidewalks to hazard baring my feet.

Duchesse said...

Some offices ban flip flops b/c of Flop Drop, the sound- not the look.

Huraches or fisherman sandals get my vote too- with linen pants. Other good looks (but more closed): white or dirty bucks and driving loafers. My husband has a pair in mango.

rb said...

Our big debate here in San Francisco: flip flops vs. mules in the office. Flip flops are banned and mules are not, despite the fact that they make the same awful noise and look just as unpresentable most of the time.

As my hilarious office-mate T. says, "if they flippin and they floppin, they flip flops."

Anonymous said...

it does not matter what anyone is wearing on there feet who looks at others feet anyways...

Anonymous said...

honestly... even on the BEACH men look ridiculous in flip-flops. take off your lame flip-flops & walk barefoot. like a MAN! as for in the city? combined with bad "rock" haircuts, derivative tattoos & cat stevens-beards should merit the death sentence. youth fashion has never been so gross.

Anonymous said...

if your a guy, flips flops are ONLY tolerable if you are in the dressing room, or on vacation near a beach. Otherwise you might as well have douchebag written across your forehead.