We're Flipping For Flip Flops
Every winter I schlep around in boots working my way through the slush, but the second those first rays of sunshine start popping out I'm pulling out the sandals and flip-flops. In a world of uncomfortably tight jeans, wired bras and painful beauty procedures, who would have thought that something so casual and inexpensive would become so trendy. Here's the fashion update on the flip flop trend.
From flip flop to fashion statement
"Flip flops are back -- not that they ever went anywhere," says April Masini, the brains behind askapril.com. "This summer, flip flops are big news as a trend. They can be found for men, women, children and teens in every machination -- from rubber dime store pairs to $500 leather designer knock ups of the old pool standard."
Eileen Lewis, director of fashion strategy at online shoe store Zappos.com, believes that the popularity of flip-flops is due to the endless possibilities for wear and adornment -- including jewels, heels and embroidery. She says that their versatility and popularity exists year-round. Put simply, "They are a fashion statement, and fashion doesn't have seasons."
A quick how-to flip flop guide
Yes, there are actually a few basic guidelines for wearing even (well, especially) the most casual of flip flops. April Masini offers these tips:
Don't wear inexpensive rubber flip flops to a meeting or a party. Keep the cheapies for the backyard or the beach.
Do wear leather flip flops in lieu of the cheap-o ones with your summer dress, trousers or shorts.
Get a pedicure! Pedicures are a must for summer and a should for year-round. Never wear any open-toed shoes until your feet are neatly groomed. Here are some tips for giving yourself a perfect pedi at home >>
If you go to the pros, maintain your pedicure between appointments with a pumice stone and some good foot scrub products. Get a tootsie check-up with a podiatrist annually.
A little heel with your flip flops will give your leg a great look and give your outfit a dressier silhouette.
Guys can wear flip flops, but the same rules apply -- don't wear cheap rubber ones out and about. Get a good-quality pair of leather flip flops to dress up your shorts and jeans look. Most importantly, make sure their feet are groomed before slipping on the mandals.
Brand and style suggestions
Havianas: Why we flip for these shoes
Cela Weiner, owner of Sylene of Washington, says that all styles are popular, she notes that basic, inexpensive shoes like Havaianas (Portuguese for "Hawaiians") are especially so. "Most of our clients buy several pairs. We carry them from Cold Nose Couture, and they are fun with different types of bows on them," she says. (See them at right.) "You can be preppy or more flamboyant."
Just what is it that makes these simple shoes so special? "It's because they are extremely comfortable and very affordable," says Weiner who carries the line of very stylish and trendy flip flops. She also pegs their versatility as another big bonus. "You can change the feel of your outfit for under $25. They're a great way to show your individuality and fashion sense."
The heel deal
Flip flops don't always have to be flat and you'll see that a little heel does wonders when it comes to wearing these shoes out and about (for something other than a grocery store run). Here are six sandal styles we liked:
Top row to bottom row: BCBG, Audrey Brooke, Grazie, Clarks, Boca, Clarks
That Old Navy magic: Sweet and Cheap
"I was at Old Navy this weekend, and they have their flip flops on sale -- two pairs for five bucks. People were buying them by the handful," says Shannan Boyer, an account executive at Wordsworth Communications.
"The woman in front of me had 5 pairs of white and 5 pairs of pink in her hands, and said that she was going to stuff a gift bag with them for her college-aged daughter. I asked why she was buying so many in the same color, and she said it was because they get dirty pretty quickly and they have to throw them out. It was insane."
She adds, "Every single person in line while I was there had at least three pairs in their possession."
Why so many? A mother of four from California has one explanation. She says she usually buys three pairs of these inexpensive shoes for each of her kids -- each child has a different color. "Shoes inevitably go missing right as we're headed out the door," she says. "Having duplicates increases the odds of finding a match, especially when we're in a rush," she says.
All the rage: Celebs in flip flops
Probably every celebrity has at least one pair of flip flops at home and some even wear them out in public. For instance Whitney Port, Amanda Seyfried and Gewn Stefani below. Flip flops can help us meet our everyday needs whether we're running errands, walking in the backyard or turning them into a fashion accessory. So, you can't blame these famous ladies for showing off their flops in public. You should do it too!
Left to right: Whitney port at the Sugar Factory, Amanda Seyfried (photo credit: Danny/Wenn) and Gwen Stefani (photo credit: Wenn)
The girl with Ipanema
Ipanema is a shoe line inspired by the sunshine and beach life culture of the Ipanema neighborhood in Brazil. One star is taking the trend a little further with her very own line of the fancy flip flops. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen has designed a range of shoes collaborating with the Ipanema brand, which include a "thong sandal" and a "thong basic."
But Gisele is not just the designer and the face on the ads; she also oversees the product line. Her shoes are hugely popular in her native Brazil -- and by "popular" we mean that they sell over six million pairs a year worldwide.
Order them from the online outlet at iPanama online.
A trend that's here to stay
So how do you choose the right flip flops to wear in the office, without looking out of place? Cyla Weiner cautions, "It depends on what you wear to the office. If you've got some flip flops with embellishment or surface interest, then yes, you can go from office to evening. Otherwise it is best to have a variety because the selection now is vast."
Next page: Designer flip flop styles & finishes >>