Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Flip Flops: Bad for your feet, but you're going to wear them anyway, aren't you?

Flip flops used to be something that we only saw come out in the summer, but depending on where you live, they can be a year-round wardrobe essential. Where I live in Dallas, I wear flip flops year-round. I buy flip flops every summer like people buy a new winter coat in the fall. And they never, ever are put up for the cold weather. I have gone to many Christmas Eve celebrations wearing some sort of open footwear. I think there's even a picture of me floating around somewhere from Thanksgiving wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a pair of old Birkenstocks from high school. 

Flip flops actually originated as far back as 4000 B.C. according to Wikipedia when the ancient Egyptians made them with papyrus and palm leaves. Other cultures have had their versions as well, and our modern-day flip flop is loosely based on the Japanese zori which was brought back by soldiers returning from World War II in Japan. They were made very popular in the 1960s in California, and while many older generations still look down on them as a sign of ultra-casual or laziness, the trend now seems to be that there are flip flops that can fit every occasion. I have seen people wearing flip flops at summer weddings and formal events, and if you happen to work in an office that embraces a casual dress code, you may find professional executives walking around in them, especially in the summer months. Here in Dallas, dining out is such a part of living here, it is very common to go to a five-star restaurant and see women walking around in fancy beaded and jeweled sandals that were probably purchased at Nordstrom's for $100 and cost less than $15 to manufacture.

I myself have a number of pairs of flip flops. I have no problem tossing them out when they wear out or if one of one of my dogs decides to make a chew toy of one, but my flip flops range in style from the traditional V-strap in leather over a leather sole to my old beloved Birkenstocks that I can't part with to foam wedge soles with a beaded cloth strap. I have them in black, brown, silver, gold, pink, multi-colored plastic gems, glitter, sequined, cloth, you name it. I even have a pair of leather string-style heeled flip flops for dressing up. And I love them all. 

However, let's be honest. They are bad for your feet. Most of them don't give support to your heels, toe or arches. You can easily trip in them. If you were in a situation where you needed to run away fast, flip flops wouldn't allow you to do that. And a lot of them have such a thin sole, you might as well be walking on the bare concrete in your bare feet. Wikipedia has a whole section on health implications and foot problems from wearing flip flops. 

But you're going to wear them anyway. I know this. I am the same way. With summer coming and depending on where you live, you may already been hoofing it around town in your flips. And guess what? The stores know this! The summer selections of flip flops are already out and ready for your purchase. And I have compiled a flip flop dos and don't list as you gear up for the kids to get out of school and start getting ready to go on those summer trips and do the summer activities. If you are a die-hard flip flop devotee like me, most of this stuff you probably already know...but you never know, you just might pick up a fun tip that will make your feet happier this summer, or something fun that you never thought of trying. So, here we go!

1. DO have painted toenails. To me, the first and foremost rule of wearing any open-toed shoes, especially if you are trying to pass off your flip flops as nice footwear, is to have painted toenails. I have friends that laugh at me because I will refuse to wear my flip flops if my toenails aren't painted. Call it a weird quirk, but no matter what people say, they do look down at your feet if you are wearing flip flops, and your feet will look nicer and more cared for if your toenails are painted, even if it is just a clear coat. If I'm in a rush to go out and I have a light color on my toes, I will do a super-fast paint job with a dark color over the light color just so they are painted. No one is going to get up close and personal with your toes, but from a vantage point of looking down, they will appear to be painted. 

2. DO take care of your heels and toes. Cracked heels and callused toes are a result of wearing these podiatrist's nightmare. It's true. They aren't quality footwear and we all know it, but we wear them anyway. The least you can do is care for your feet. With your feet being exposed to the air constantly wearing sandals and the heel and big toes rubbing on the surfaces and carrying the brunt of your body weight, they are going to show some wear and tear. So be kind to your feet. Use a Ped Egg (see review here) or a foot file to remove that dead skin and use a nice foot cream like O'Keefe's (see review here) to keep them soft and conditioned. 

3. DO wear sunscreen if you are going to be outside. The skin on your feet is tender and can burn very easily. Putting on sunscreen serves two purposes; it protects your feet from getting a burn and it also gives your feet some added moisturizer in preparation for being outside.

4. DO consider toe rings. They are cute to jazz up your toes if you wear flip flops or sandals a lot. You can usually pick up inexpensive toe rings at Walmart, Target or Claire's. I have a collection of toe rings that I wear on occasion to give my toes an extra twinkle. My suggestion with toe rings is to stay away from the kind that completely encircle your toe. The ones that are adjustable and have a space on the bottom are not only more comfortable but won't dig into your toe if you wear the toe ring for several hours. Same goes for ankle bracelets; they can make your feet look very feminine and pretty.

5. DON'T wear your flip flops if you are going to be on your feet for hours and hours. Know ahead of time what you are going to be doing. I cringe when I go to the mall to do a serious shopping trip and see teenagers running around in their plastic flip flops. Flip flops, while very fashionable, cute and cool to wear in the summer, aren't meant for hiking the concrete jungle, and if worn over long periods of time can result in flat feet, fallen arches or plantar fascitis. I have walking sandals that I wear to shop at the mall and if I'm going to an outdoor event where I know I'm going to be walking for hours, like a festival or a theme park, sneakers it is. Your feet will thank you for it later that evening.

6. DON'T rule out discount stores for great places to get fun flip flops. My favorite place to get flip flops every year is Target, although I have bought some great flip flops at American Eagle, Kohl's, Old Navy, Skechers, and this year to my surprise, Walmart! The flip flop style that I prefer are the wedge-style with a heel to take some of the pressure off my heels. I like foam soles because they are soft on my foot but firm enough to provide support, and cloth straps are the most comfortable between my toes. With bling being so popular, a lot of stores will sell stores with beads or jewels sewn onto the straps, which to me is like finding gold, but you can also make your own bling-y sandals if you find a pair of flip flops that you like and get industrious with a glue gun or a needle and thread. I'm usually not that long as they just look dressy enough to wear with capris and a nice shirt, I'm happy. 

7. DON'T spend an arm and a leg on flip flops that you could probably find something similar to at a big box store. Nordstrom's is one of my favorite places to buy shoes, but I shake my head in disgust when I see a pair of plastic shoes beaded to the nines selling for over $100. If they are leather, contoured, meant for walking, provide great support, or just look like they are meant to last for several years, that's one thing, but if they look like they were made in about ten minutes, they probably were and they might not last much longer, not to mention they are not going to support your foot. Why spend good money on shoes that aren't going to last? If you just want some cute shoes that you can wear sporadically over the summer, get them at a cheaper place.

8. DON'T hesitate to toss them when they are wearing thin. Flip flops weren't made to provide your feet with a lot of support, but the thinner they get, the closer your feet are in contact with the concrete slab you are walking on in your house or out and about. 

9. DON'T wear the wrong size. When you are trying on flip flops, the end of your foot should be pretty close to the edge of the shoe and the strap snug but not overly tight. You don't want to be putting undue stress on your foot by trying to hang on to the shoe with your foot if it's too big, and you don't want your heel hanging out over the back of the shoe when you walk if it's too small. 
Photo courtesy of

10. DON'T wear them with socks. Don't do it. It just looks weird. 

This year as I mentioned above, I found my flip flops at Walmart and I was so pleasantly surprised. I wear a size 11 and it's pretty difficult for me to find shoes anywhere, so when I went to Walmart and I found not one but TWO pairs of cute blinged-out flip flops, one rainbow and one silver, in my size with foam wedge-style soles, I was a happy girl. These were each $9.98 apiece, and they were available in kids' sizes to boot. After examining them pretty closely, I do think that you could make your own if you were so inclined. My favorite color of flip flop is black, and there is never any shortage with those, but if you want, say, red flip flops with blue sparkly sequins, there's no reason why you couldn't get creative.

I wish you and your feet a happy summer! If you have found a great source for great-looking albeit weak on support flip flops, please leave it in the comments; we'd love to hear from you!

1 comment:

  1. I totally wore toe socks with flip flops for my December Wedding! I went against the flip flop rule!