The term “flip-flop” itself is fun to say – it mimics the sound the sandals make when walking in them. They are also known as “thongs” or “slops.”
In Kenya, flip-flops were called “patapata” when Bata became the first company to produce them there. Robust production continues today, and Bata’s PataPata brand is well-known for fashion items like the Ashanti jewelry flip-flop.
Flip-flops are a very simple type of footwear dating back to ancient times, the defining feature being a single strap that is anchored between the toes. In the 1960s they were linked to Californian beachwear, and their popularity took off.
Those origins mean there have been very strict rules surrounding flip-flops. Conservatives will insist they are only to be worn on the beach, poolside or in the shower. Designer Tom Ford was quoted six years ago: “Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate.”
Now, the fashion world has loosened up. The online fashion magazine Zoe explained, “This summer 2017, be it in town or on vacation, beach sandals land in our daily wardrobe. Like Miu Miu, which proposed a real show of bathers, pool sandals have invaded the catwalk and have truly inspired creatives, turning these uncomplicated holiday shoes into a genuine essential for all fashionistas.”
Miu Miu certainly wasn’t alone. Prada favored plastic flip-flops with oversized flowers. Dolce & Gabbana and Lanvin covered them in pearls and sequins, while Dior and Dries Van Noten went minimalist.
Bottega Veneta and Tory Burch offered colorful versions, and Valentino classed them up with a hobnailed leather style.
If you feel anxious about wearing flip-flops, match a classic Y-strap pair with a casual outfit, and make sure your feet look neat. And relax with the knowledge that these sandals are cool, trendy and versatile.
When buying flip-flops, consider where you will wear them. If you’re sticking to a beach look, you’ll want materials that dry quickly like rubber and nylon, and outsoles with a good grip might be a good idea. If you know they aren’t going near the water, leather is a great way to take them up a notch.
If this is going to be your go-to shoe this summer, don’t skimp on comfort. Make sure the toe post doesn’t chafe, look for details like double stitching that speak to durability, and you may want a lightweight and closer-fitting molded model that doesn’t actually do a full flip and flop as you walk.
So set your feet free, and pair your flip-flops with dresses, shorts or pants. And go ahead and wear them for a night out.