In Defense of Flip-Flops

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Two of my favorite FashionMisters, Tim Gunn and Clinton Kelly, have this thing about flip-flops. Both admit to wearing them, just not out.

Gunn discusses “the flip-flop phenomenon” in “Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style: “Where is this taking our society and culture other than into a long and winding fashion decline (2007, p. 26)?”

In his book “Oh No She Didn’t,” Kelly shows a pile of flip-flops burning the way books burned in Fahrenheit 451.

When it comes to comfort clothing, Gunn explains, “The key is not being dressy. The key is being appropriate (“Gunn’s Golden Rules,” 2010, p. 116).”

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Makes sense. Gunn and Kelly spend a lot of time in New York where flip-flops are not appropriate.

Who knows when you might run into Sarah Jessica Parker or The Donald or a dead rat. Those three are different how, you ask? I jest about the similarities between them, but when we lived in Chicago, the latter nearly happened to me.

As soon as my husband and I arrived, I set forth scouring the Windy City for an apartment to rent. It was freezing. When they say cooler by the lake, they don’t mean Bartles & Jaymes. Had to wear my winter coat. In June.

But Chicago weather is almost as unpredictable as St. Louis weather. Soon the temperature tables turned, the sun came out, and my coat was sidelined.

Warm and happy, I went apartment hunting one morning in a little dress, sunglasses and flip-flops. Adept at walking while reading a map, I was in Streeterville when I became particularly distraught. I’d gone to see an apartment only to get the leasing agent’s cold shoulder. May have been the flip-flops.

as seen at Old Navy

I stumbled onto Ohio Street, got my bearings, put my map in front of my face, and by golly, I marched on. Trudge, trudge, trudge in the sunshine. Look ahead, look at the map. Look right, look and the map. Look left…

On the other side of the street, five burly construction workers were lined up on the sidewalk smiling at me. Not in a hound dog way. More in a ready to bust a seam way.

Being Southern, I smiled back and looked down to make sure all was in order. My gaze landed on the pavement just in time.

There on the sidewalk in front of me was the largest, bloodiest, deadest rat I’d ever seen. It had been run over once, and I was about to barrel over it again in my flip-flops.

This may be the real reason why Gunn and Kelly do not wear their flip-flops out. In which case, they should amend their books.

Admit it, guys. There are plenty of places where flip-flops are perfectly appropriate. It’s in places like New York and Chicago that you must closet the flip-flops, keep your chin up, and always, always watch your step.

“…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NLT

Recently discovered The Kinks’ Dedicated Follower of Fashion playing in my favorite store. J Crew, you complete me

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Flip-flops are my friend Erika’s business.

Her company flippin’ cute! infinitely customizes them with your choice of colors, monograms and teams. Imagine them in school or sorority colors. Or itty bitty for little girls. Brides have even worn them in weddings. (Can you hear Clinton and Tim screaming?)

Priced from $15-$25, they’re an affordable luxury. See more at

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15 Responses to In Defense of Flip-Flops

  1. Cheryl

    This weekend we were at the Rescued Racers annual picnic. Hundreds of happy greyhounds. Peeing in the grass as dogs must do. I was wearing flip flops, and definitely had to question my footwear choice!

    • Cheryl, you are a self-proclaimed founding member of the shoe addicts club, so I would love to see your flip-flops! I’m sure the sweet happy greyhounds were careful not to mar those babies once they saw them. Rumor has it greyhounds have a great sense of style, you know.

  2. I live in them, so take that, Clinton and Tim (though, I do love those guys)!

    And yay Erika! :)

    • I’m a fan of Clinton and Tim too. Goes without saying as 1) I read their books and 2) I read their books closely enough to find their opinions on flip-flops!
      I’m a fan of Erika too. If I had a girl, we’d have matching pairs of those flippin’ cute flops. Somehow I don’t think my son would appreciate the curly ribbons, unless he could use them to bungee jump or something. You know how that goes x3. Got any nieces?

  3. Alicia Norton

    Speaking of Bartles & Jaymes, thank you for your support. Old joke. Circa 1987.

  4. Bartles & Jaymes…one of my fav ad campaigns ever. But flip flops…they don’t work well on the prairie either. But I do love them no matter what all the fashion experts on TV say. And I love Tim Gunn! Clinton and Stacy are just okay. Love your blogging Aimee!

    • Thanks, Katie. Tim is probably my favorite too. (Sorry, Clinton; I still love you, but you have Stacy and all that. Tim only has Heidi and she’s married.) Tim’s a class act. His books are hilarious too! And I do love my flip-flops. They are among the most comfortable, colorful, cool, and economical shoes on earth. They’re green too: Old Navy collected old flip-flops this past spring for TerraCycle to recycle into playground stuff.

  5. Diana Byrd

    Wearing my flip flops as I read everyday epistle – out – in the car – Bible Study – lunch – shopping. A good friend recently-returned missionary to Brazil brought me a pair of the ultimate Brasilian flips, Havaianas. And, in my fave color – purple! Nothing like Brasilian Havaianas in the Carolina sun!

    • Diana, one of Tim Gunn’s colleagues loves Havaianas. Nina Garcia is the Fashion Director at Marie Claire and a regular on Project Runway with Tim and Michael Kors. In her second book, The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own, Garcia lists Havaianas as one of the 100! I may have to track down a pair now that they’re endorsed by both you and Nina.

  6. Elizabeth Knehans

    Leaving the corporate world behind gives you much more freedom to flip and flop! I’ve been loving that freedom for 10 years now. I live in my vast wardrobe of flip flops from spring till fall and dread the late fall morning when I realize I must put them back into the closet until next spring. I instantly panic when I realize I don’t own many “appropriate” shoes these days! I wouldn’t trade all the life experiences I’ve shared with my kids sporting my flip flops during my post corporate world days for all the “appropriate” shoes out there.

    • Those “appropriate” shoes look divine but often they are not so comfortable, at least not for very long. Glad you’re living large and loving life in your vast wardrobe of flip-flops, Elizabeth!

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