I’m a horrible person. A mean, judgmental, horrible snob of a person. The idea of frowning upon any form of such popular and comfortable footwear is just plain horrible.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll let it rip…

Somehow, we’ve gone from a reasonably well-dressed culture to one that needs to bring the comfort of the frat house into adulthood in public. Tucking in a shirt has apparently become oppressively uncomfortable, athletic wear has turned into everywhere wear and under armor is now outer armor. Between the fleecy, stretchy fabrics and the elastic waistbands, the mission to dress as casual as humanly possible has put a growing number of adults in soft, shapeless clothing that was once reserved for infants and toddlers.

Preference in footwear has shifted accordingly. Since lace-ups or even slip-ons that cover the whole foot have become too cumbersome and dressy for a lot of people, we’re now subjecting the general public to our dirty feet and unkempt toes when we go out. But since people have abandoned written language in favor of emojis and Snapchat – the digital equivalent of cave paintings – it makes sense that people are going back to footwear that was also designed in a cave.

“But George, I like flip-flops, and my kids wear them, too. They’re comfortable.”
I get it. I own flip-flops, and I wear them… around the house or when I’m on a beach or near a swimming pool. Only. For a casual, easy, no-brainer shoe for grown-ups in public, there is a better option.

My favorite antidote to the flip-flop is the espadrille. Espadrilles are casual flat shoes with an upper typically made with canvas or cotton and a sole made with esparto rope (from a tough grass-like fiber). Originally designed as peasant shoes that date back centuries in parts of France and Spain, espadrilles provide light and airy foot protection with cool style, extreme comfort and ease of wear.

As far as the right ones to get, you can go basic or designer, depending on your style and budget. A simple pair from Soludos can run you between $30 and $85, depending on the fabric or the sale. A nice pair of TOMS can be had for anywhere between $45 and $100. H&M makes espadrilles that go for less than $20, but I’m not a fan or supporter of the fast-fashion business model.

“But George, why does it matter if people want to wear flip-flops?”
When you let things slide in certain areas, however trivial it seems, the easier it becomes to let them slide in other areas, too. There is a reason people look at old photos of Americans who dressed up more and say things like, “Wow, people were so glamorous then. They looked so good. What happened?” The answer to the question What happened? is that people started letting things slide. As we slide down the slippery slope, what was once unthinkable (i.e. flip-flops in a restaurant) eventually becomes the norm. And here we are, just a onesie away from wearing Crocs and a diaper to the mall.

“But George, I think espadrilles are ugly.”
Exposed feet and toes are uglier. Trust me.

Just for fun…

Greg Proops, one of our smartest comics and arguably our best-dressed one, said some of the smartest and funniest things I’ve ever heard about flip-flops and men’s exposed toes. Enjoy:

7 Comments

  1. Michael Snook Reply

    I loathe flip flops! Even the name, flip flops annoys me! Furthermore, I hate the sound they make when walking. I personally don’t feel comfortable in them at all! I don’t like how they smack the bottom of my feet when I walk. And have you ever tried to run in them? What if I am out in the woods wearing my oh so comfy hiking flops and I come upon a bear? Running from a bear in flip flops is probably the only thing dumber than trying to run barefoot in the woods while being chased by a bear! Am I the only one who considers “chasing/being chased” when considering shoes? It is basically the only reason why I don’t own a pair of cowboy boots.

    Wow, that felt really good!

  2. Michael Snook Reply

    One more thing…flip flops + public restrooms = GROSS!!!!

  3. I’ve always disliked the practice of wearing flipflops outside of the beach/pool area. You can find heavier leather sandals but I don’t think they are any better. I think that for many men is not so much comfort as lack of thought. Wearing closed-toe shoes just never occurs to some guys and eventually somehow it becomes a thing and now you have 30-somethings walking around the city as if they just walked out of a beach party.

  4. Yes, the inability to run – fast and agile if needed, keeps FFs out of my shoe arsenal. Never had ’em, never will. My hunch is many men find espadrilles fey and quasi-Euro feminine, but whatever. I enjoy them and they can be bought
    for under 40 bucks – will last several seasons if cared for.

  5. Mrs Sparkles Reply

    Espadrilles have their birthplace in Spain and authentic espadrilles are made in Spain. It’s a shame that both brands that you feature in this story are Made in China.

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