A few weeks ago I wrote an article about shoes (find it here). At the time I was wearing boots and four pairs of thermal socks because we were still in the midst of winter. Well, in the meantime spring has arrived and there is a slight hint of summer in the air. All of a sudden the warehouse of full of new flip flops and that’s something that always puts a hop, skip and jump into my step.
The supposed problem with flip flops
The medical fraternity hate flip flops. An article by the Daily Mail (29 July 2010 and fabulously well researched and written as always) for example suggested that the NHS spends £40million a year treating injuries caused by wearing flip flops and claimed that more than 200,000 people visit their GP or even end up in hospital every year after suffering falls or developing ‘long-term problems’ after wearing flip flops. A ‘Long term’ health problem seems to suggest that Britain has better summers than it does. I find the research for this article dubious at best.
Interestingly, one statistic I do like is that around 20% of women own at least one pair of flip flops. For you as a small business this is great news. Flip flops are popular and people like to wear them! Result!
Our love affair with flip flops
But here at Wholesale Clearance UK we say “Ya boo sucks” to all that. Flip flops make us feel good. They’re synonymous with sunshine and good times on the beach. They remind us of going casual and having holidays. They make us smile. I mean – even the sound they make as we walk makes us happy – flip flop flip flop.
Flip-flops are defined as a flat sole shoe that is loosely held on to the foot by a Y-shaped strap that passes between the first and second toes and then wraps around either side of the foot, or they are held against the foot by a single strap over the front of the foot rather than with a thong. And yes, the name did come about because of that sound they make when you walk. Flip flop flip flop!
Early flip flops were worn by the ancient Egyptians in 4,000 B.C. The Ancient Greeks and Romans also wore versions of flip-flops as well. While in Greece, these flip flops had the toe strap between the first and second toes; in Rome they had the strap between the second and third toes. Ouch! The Ancient Mesopotamians wore their strap between the third and fourth toes and in India there were no straps at all on one version of their ‘chappal’. Their “toe knob” sandal just had a small knob sitting between the first and second toes and the toes clutched it to keep the sole on as they walked.
Our modern love affair with flip flops began when American soldiers returning home to the USA from Japan after World War II wore Japanese zori, and this was underlined by US action in Korea. Within popular culture flip flops were quickly adapted so that they used appealing bright colours. They were convenient and comfortable and were sold in beach-themed stores as summer shoes. They rapidly became associated with a beach lifestyle proving a hit with surfers and holiday makers and were worn with casual summer clothing such as shorts, swim suits and summer dresses. Over the years new styles have been created with decoration on the flip-flops including metallic finishes, charms, chains, beads, rhinestones and other jewellery.
A flip flop controversy
Back in 2005 some members of Northwestern University’s national champion women’s lacrosse team (in the USA) visited the White House wearing flip-flops and caused a storm in a teacup. But what is the etiquette of flip flop wearing? The Dalai Lama of Tibet frequently wears flip-flops to meet dignitaries from foreign countries and even more ‘shocking’, in 2011, Barack Obama became the first President of the United States to be photographed wearing a pair of flip-flops while on holiday. Imagine that! Many in the US were horrified at this fashion faux pas!
So is there a flip flop etiquette?
Not really but if you want some rules …
1. You shouldn’t wear flip-flops between October and March. Frigid looking feet should be hidden from public view.
2. You can always wear flip flops on holiday. Even if you’re the President of the USA.
3. You should never wear flip flops to work unless you run your business on the beach (but see also rule one).
4. Don’t wear flip flops in a pub or club where drinks are served in glasses or bottles. It’s dangerous to walk where there may be glass in semi-naked feet, but you can easily slip on spilt liquid in flip flops, or your flip flop can stick to a sticky floor, you’ll lose your grip and end up falling over. And if you’re a guy – think about the gent’s toilets… nuff said.
5. Never wear flip flops to any formal occasion. Flip flops are strictly casual no matter how much they cost you and there is no such thing as a dressy flip flop.
6. Don’t wear flip flops to Buckingham Palace. Only the Queen can wear them there and that’s because Bucks Palace is her home.
7. You can always wear them at home.
8. And the golden rule? Flip flops should never EVER be worn with socks.
Conversely – why you should wear flip flops just as you like
We’ve already seen that people have been wearing flip flops for thousands of years. Before that people didn’t really wear shoes at all so many so called medical problems that we have with our feet may just as well be caused by other things. In fact, our feet evolved without needing foot support. And yes, you do have to watch where you are stepping but what about high heels? High heels can be seriously damaging to your feet.
Hygiene. Now it is true that your feet get dirty when you wear flip flops, but there is a very simple solution to this. It’s called soap and water and I find that bubbly soap and warm water work best together, and if the dirt is ingrained try soaking them in salty water first. Remember that closed shoes get smelly and filled with bacteria and you encase your poor feet in them for over 8 hours a day, so how are flip flops worse?
It’s your life and it’s a short one. Wear flip flops if you blooming well want!