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Flip-flops by the back door? Must be summer

It will be a sad day when I finally have to ditch my favorite flip-flops. They’re cute – navy with white polka dots. I first bought them for a beach vacation. After that they became my go-to slip-ons for retrieving the mail, watering the porch ferns, heading for a pedicure.

I never wear them to the office or to dig in the garden. They’re a summer staple I keep by the back door – even after the gold logo embellishments fell off, leaving holes in each strap.

“Cheap and easy to wear,” is how one writer describes them.

So true. And true, too, is how flip-flops draw the attention of foot experts and fashion critics alike.

“Avoid a Flip-Flop Fiasco” reads an informative article on, the website of the American Podiatric Medical Association. Now that summer is almost here, it’s worth reviewing the APMA’s helpful reminders:

• Do shop for a flip-flop made of high-quality, soft leather.

• Do gently bend the flip-flop from end to end, ensuring it bends at the ball of the foot. (Shoes of any kind should never fold in half.)

• Do ensure that your foot doesn’t hang off of the edge of the flip-flop.

• Don’t wear flip-flops while walking long distances, doing yard work or playing sports.

There’s even a video on the website called “Flip Flops Gone Wild!” filmed at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Flip-flop wearers were tested on their knowledge of foot-friendly flip-flops. Some did not do very well.

Not all flip-flops are created equal. While there are plenty of inexpensive beachy flip-flops, others offer more support and stability. The APMA has given its Seal of Acceptance to some flip-flop styles from several brands, including Dansko and Clarks.

Besides foot health, the matter of style and appropriateness has come up.

A couple years ago, Georgea Kovanis wrote this in the Detroit Free Press: “In most cases, flip-flops are a big mistake.”

Here’s why, she reported:

• Flip-flops are only appropriate on people whose feet are clean and well groomed.

• Flip-flops are not shoes.

• Flip-flops are appropriate in only the most casual venues (beach, pool side, gym shower). Not for work or fine dining.

“Outdoor music festival or art fair in a park? Only if you’re OK knowing that you’ll probably step in something dusty, muddy or otherwise gross – public bathrooms can be a huge mess,” Kovanis wrote.


I like how one book I have describes them: “Colorful, bouncy and fun, flip-flops are not a shoe for everyday use, but are perfect beachwear and the only footwear conceivable on sunny summer days,” wrote the authors of “Fifty Shoes that Changed the World,” one in a series of books from the Design Museum in London.

Flip-flops, they wrote, “are synonymous with getting away from it all.”

Even if that means wearing them to water the ferns on the porch on a quiet morning.

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