When I started this blog six years ago, I never thought I would write about fashion. A cursory search through my 200-plus posts shows zero evidence of anything relating to clothing or other sartorial concerns. And yet, as summer approaches I feel an urge to speak out. To speak out about a trend that has consumed the nation. I’m talking about the ubiquity of the flip-flop.
How do I know there’s a problem? Because I just saw a grown man in my workplace dressed in a handsome button-down shirt and chinos wearing, on his feet, you guessed it, flip-flops. And it’s not even Dress-Down Friday.
The assumption here is that I want to see this man’s toes. I do not. I’ve been to clothing-optional beaches and I have been known to take a skinny-dip or two, but I have principles. A right time and place, please. For every thing under the sun, a season. Turn, turn, turn.
I’m actually quite modest when it comes to everyday dress. In college I started to button my shirts all the way up to the top button. Maybe this was because I was going through a David Lynch phase or I was a Smiths fan. I can’t remember. I do know that to this day, I have a thing about exposing my neck. All my white work t-shirts, the kind I wear under my own handsome button-downs, have to fit snugly around the neckline. I can’t truck any bit of sag.
I sometimes even question the wisdom of wearing shorts. Not really kidding. The aforementioned summer is almost here and that means I have to decide what my “look” is going to be. Last summer I attempted the Kyle Chandler/Coach Eric Taylor-from-Friday Night Lights getup with the khaki shorts, polo shirts, low-rise white socks and sneakers, but I couldn’t really rock it. In shopping for new summer shorts every year, I try to find the happy medium between Angus Young…
and Jerry Garcia…
In some cultures, wearing shorts in public is even considered rude. Mexico, for instance. And it’s much hotter there than in the food court at the Maine Mall. The skin I’ve seen in line at Sbarro you don’t wanna know about.
Again, I have no problem with bare flesh per se, but it has to be in the right context. Thursday afternoon in the office is not the right context. Meet me at Haulover Beach, man or woman friend, and we can talk about it. I won’t mind seeing your toes, or any other part of you, there. I’ll even show you my neck, in all its wattled glory.
College kids especially are flip-flop crazy. They wear them in the sun. They wear them in the rain. They wear them in the snow. As a Syracuse native , the snow part is especially heinous. When I see the little cherubs sporting their bare toes in January, I want to knit them all a pair of wool socks. And forcibly install them. And I don’t even knit. I even saw a career guide aimed at new college grads called “First, Lose the Flip-Flops.” I mean, duh.
I’m also becoming more and more convinced that as I age, there is simply no way for me to look good in summer. No possible way. I’ve tried all kinds of approaches. The above-mentioned Eric Taylor look. The Hang Loose Hawaii look. The preppie look with the salmon-colored shorts and long-sleeved oxford shirts. The basketball look with the baggy silk gym shorts and oversized t-shirts. No matter what I try, I always end up a sweaty, smelly mess. Maybe the nudist colony is the only approach that will work. For science’s sake, I’m willing to try.
Woman have it much easier in this regard. A skirt or summer dress is always appropriate. And women definitely have the best choice in flip-flops. Don’t even get me started there. Women’s flip-flops are colorful and cushiony. Men’s are like giant plastic yachts with an Adidas logo on the bow. So where does this leave us?
I would like to restore the flip-flop to a place of humility in our culture again. This prideful rubber beast must be brought low. To do this, we need certain rules. I would say rule number one is that flip-flops may never, under any circumstances, be worn with long pants. They must never be worn at work. They should only be reserved for summer days at the beach or trips to the tiki bar. They must not be worn in December, no matter the outdoor temperature. I would almost go so far as to say it would be better to go barefoot than to wear flip-flops at all. Let’s return the flip-flop to the place it occupied in my childhood in the 1970’s: as the footwear of last resort, bought for $1.99 out of cardboard bins at Fay’s Drugs.
All this being said, I have a pair of Havaianas on order, just like the ones you see above. They were $24, plus $1.00 shipping. They should be here in about a week. I’ll let you know how they work out.
I’m also going to tag this post “shoes.” I bet my readership explodes.
But no matter what happens, please don’t let me pull a Bob Weir…