Sunday, July 15, 2012

Flipping for Flops

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I have to give you a little background on this one. For several years now, as I have seen the flip-flop morph from "that rubber thing you wear at the public pool" to "suitable footwear for a visit to the White House," I have consistently ranted (usually to my poor husband, who neither notices nor cares what women wear on their feet) about the sad decline in standards in Today's Modern World.

But at the same time, my feet have become increasingly less tolerant of heels. They pinch, they hurt, they make me think twice about going to the ladies room because I don't want to have to go another twenty-five steps.

Then this spring, my son went to his Junior Prom. I got to drop him and his date off at the banquet center, and thus got an eyeful of what the girls were wearing for this, the most important formal of their young lives. Lots of them were in the traditional, kick-them-off-after-the-second-dance heels. But a significant number were wearing pretty, blinged-out sandals. Flip-flops, to be precise.

Fast forward to Thrillerfest. As I write this, it's nearing midnight, and I've been on my feet for most of the day. But instead of having to soak the dogs in a sitz bath, I'm wiggling my happy toes in the Grand Hyatt carpet. Why? Because I've been wearing a pair of blinged-out flops all day. Oh, they're made of leather, not rubber, and they have a bitty strap, but they're flops all the same. I wore a different pair, with a thick, wedged bottom, on the trip down to NYC. I have given in. I have thrown in the towel, I have flipped on flops, and it feels great.

What do you think, Reds? Should we all start wearing flops on flights? Can they go to summer weddings? And does this mean I'm just one step away from wearing Birkenstocks with socks during the winter?

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm all for comfortable shoes - nothing makes more of a difference in my mood, except perhaps if I've had my morning coffee. And I WISH I could wear flip-flops, but they hurt. Not more than heels, but they do hurt, and my poor little toe muscles go into a virtual rictus of protest.

But here's the question: if you wear them does that mean you have to have painted your toenails?

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Yes, Hallie, you do have to paint your toenails! This from one who lives in flip flops from April to October, whether is cheap rubber ones around the house or different levels of bling when going out.  You can even get orthopedic flip flops! I'm all for anything that will actually let you stand and WALK without being torture. (Think of Bouchercon in SF, when I walked blocks back to my hotel in my cocktail dress, carrying my snazzy heels.  Of course, I do wear socks with my Tevas in the winter, so maybe I'm not the best fashion guru....

RHYS BOWEN: I couldn't believe my eyes in a catalog that arrived at my house the other day--flip-flops for nearly 200 dollars??  Two tiny straps of leather on a sole and it wasn't as if they had real diamonds stuck on them. Another indication that the world has gone mad.

But I'm secretly glad that high heels are no longer required with formal wear. I've never yet found a comfortable pair and I'm in awe of Hank and her elegant high heels. I do manage a two inch heel on occasion but guess what--I've bought a pair of bejeweled flip-flops for the formal nights on the Queen Mary next month.And I do paint my toe-nails (even indulge in the occasional pedicure with my daughters)

JAN BROGAN: Yes, Hallie. You must have your toes painted. That's the downside. But the upside is worth it. Have you all discovered FIT FLOPS? I swear I am not working on commission, but these are not instead of high heels, these are instead of sneakers. No kidding, they have sparkling ones the look good (but not for the prom) for day wear. Really, last summer when I was in France, I did not have a car. I had to walk everywhere and probably clocked four to five miles a day, most of the time on cobblestone and often up the steep 1 mile hill to my friend's houses.  I have temperamental feet that need a lot of support, this sandals were better than my running shoes. I tried to walk around New York City one day in regular flip flops and did serious damage to the bottom of my feet.  The world is not going to hell in a hand basket, Julia, it's moving just that much further away than the feet-binding the Chinese initiated and we've been inadvertently carrying out.

LUCY BURDETTE: I have bad feet too, Jan, and I blame it partly on wearing heels back in the days when I used to waitress. I thought I looked very glamorous, but now I pay. My go-to shoes as long as it's not snowing are Mephisto sandals. They have a high arch and lots of support and I can walk anywhere in them. Hallie, if you're getting a pair, do as Rhys suggests and splurge on the pedicure too--heaven!

HANK PHILLPPI RYAN: Rhys, I cannot wait to see photos of your cruise. Fabulous.
I still think of rubber flip-flops as beach things..I wear them around the house
and at the pool, but no where else. My family all hoots at me because one year
J Crew had a huge flip-flop sale, and it was all flips were five dollars. I
FLIPPED and you cannot believe what's stored upstairs now. (And still I default
to the black ones, sigh.) Jan, my producer Mary wears FitFlops (to work!) and
loves them, too..

But I think leather "flip-flops" are not FF's. They're sandals. And that's a
different deal. Perfectly acceptable everywhere. Except in a TV interview. (I
saw someone do that the other day..and I thought: Eeeeww. Feet on TV.)   

JULIA: Pedis are a must. But after hiding my feet inside boots (outdoor and indoor) for six months, I like showing off some snazzy nail polish. Added benefit: unlike the polish on my fingernails, which chips off almost every time I start writing on my laptop, my pedi color lasts for weeks. Unless I take up toe-typing, I suppose.

How about you, dear readers? Are you sticking with your stillettos? Or have you, too, flipped for flops?


  1. Although heels were once a wardrobe staple for me, I, too, have abandoned them in favor of non-aching feet. Around the house it’s no shoes at all, which is the ultimate in comfort for my feet. These days my shoe rack definitely holds no stilettos, but no flip-flops, either. Like Hallie, I have found that they also hurt my feet and I have never found them to be comfortable. My go-to shoes are flat Mary Jane-style Skechers. Like the flip-flops Julia described, they come in all degrees of “fancy” . . . I even have a pair with sparkles and one sporting glittery sequins . . . and my feet are happy! 

  2. I wear just socks around the house. For the last couple of years my conference shoes have been SAS sandals with good arch support. Unfortunately, I've got arthritis in both feet and ankles, so nothing works really well. Ah, the joys of getting older!

  3. Shoes are hard, especially in these days of poor manufacturing and cost-cutting. I have high arches, but hardly any shoes have arch supports nowadays; no arch support means tired feet for me, and sometimes pain, if I'm walking long distances. Cute shoes do not equal comfortable shoes, except in rare instances, unfortunately.

    My husband and I started out 2" apart in height, with him the taller of us. He has shrunk more than I have over the last 34 years, so he is now shorter than I am. On top of that, I wear a size 6, so really high heels are impossible. My feet just are not long enough! I very rarely wear heels, even though my shoe collection has some pretty ones that are even fairly comfortable to wear for short distances.

    Flat flip flops with no arch support are no better than high heels.

  4. I have been suffering serious flip flop envy since I saw the very first adorable sparkly pair on my friend Becky's pretty pedicured feet.

    But, like Hallie, my toes do not like them and scream in protest.

    Jan, I've never heard of fit flops, but intend to look into them. Right now.

    I adore cute, pretty shoes and suffered through all that for the sake of my vanity - but not any more. Part of being retired means, to me, bare feet around the house and tennis shoes for the gym. Ballet flats or Keen Mary Janes for just about everything else.

    And then I see Hank looking elegant in her heels and I'm back to square one . . . .

  5. Yeah, I'm kind of used to heels, after all these year...but I always carry flats!

  6. Julia, so glad you were smart for Thrillerfest for your feet's sake. But I'm with Hank, if they're leather, they're not flip-flops--they're sandals.

    Unfortunately, I can't wear flip-flops. Like Hallie, they hurt my feet. I can't wear stilettos or even fairly short high heels, either. I have to wear shoes that give my feet and body, especially knees and back, good support. And I've been diabetic for years with few problems--no insulin, meds only because the steroids I have to take kick sugars up. So I must wear comfortable shoes--and socks at all times to protect my feet from any minor injury. I can never go barefoot. I've found some soft, thin black cotton socks that I can wear like pantyhose with dressy flats. (I'm always in black slacks of various kinds at anything dressy.) Thus, I am one of those awful folks who wear heavy sandals and socks in winter when the weather doesn't require boots and socks.

    I look at Hank's pretty heels and gorgeous, unscarred legs and just sigh in envy and resignation.

  7. SO RELIEVED that I'm not the only ones whose feet won't tolerate flip flops. I just googled Mephistos. They have a slightly less clunky but still birkenstock feel to them. Shall have to try a pair...without the toe thing.

    In California we used to call them "thongs" or zories. I wonder if the latter was a brand?

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  9. Jack,
    Can you send a picture to us of your stilettos? Better yet, you in stilettos?

    As for me, I'm really just waiting for cold weather so I can put on my boots again.

  10. Hallie, you might like these Sketchers thongs. I like them so much I bought a second pair in another color. They have arch support, plus the thong part is soft cotton straps, so super comfortable.

  11. Would love to try Fit Flops, but from the reviews I've been reading, they run big. I have narrow feet with a high arch, so would want to try in a store rather than ordering online. Does anyone know what major stores carry them? (Obviously, I haven't been shoe shopping in ages....)

  12. I'm with Hallie. They hurt my toes. I have ugly, sore feet a lot--a product of aging plus having gone barefoot so much I have no arch, plus bunions--you name it. But I find a lot of cute tennis shoes for almost any occasion--well, I don't go formal anywhere any more.

  13. If I had to do it all over again, 30 years on, I would invest in 2 exceptional pairs of shoes. 1) Manolo Blahnik's Campari in black, and 2) a nude pair of Cole Haan, with Nike Air Technology. They are very, very expensive, but not more than all the money I've wasted in 30 years on heels, only to be tossed away. These should would last many, many years, and are actually comfortable. I do like the look of flip flops, and have tried many, many times to wear them, with the result of sore toes and very achy (sp?) arches.

  14. Debs, you could always try ordering a couple sizes from Zappo's. Free shipping both ways. A little inconvenient but doable.

    Hallie--no comparison between Birkies and Mephisto. I wear them both but stick with the Birkies in the house and the others out in public:)

  15. Alas, I can't wear high heels because my repaired right foot doesn't bend enough to get much of a heel on my foot. And I can't wear thongs for more than a few minutes because one of my surgical scars runs between my first and second toes. So, sadly, all my shoes are flat and sensible.

  16. Hallie, we called them "beachwalkers" in LA's eastern suburbs. I still do, but I only wear them to the pool or locker room. I would never wear any footwear without socks on a plane, by the way - I think it has been discussed here before how yucky it would be to walk barefoot through the screener where so many other feet have walked before...
    Back to the topic, I have never worn high heels, despite the height advantage they lend a shortie like me, and stick with flat shoes that also have to have some support, so flip flops are way out (although those FitFlips sound interesting, Jan). My goal for next winter is to find some cute knee-high boots that don't wreck my arthritic toe - had to send two pair back last winter.

  17. Sneakers are my footwear of choice. I have never been able to wear flip flops. They make me feel as though there's a knife slicing between those two toes. I do keep a pair on hand to use as bedroom slippers when on vacation, as I can also use them at a pool or at the beach. (Not that I go on vacation very much.) Because my toes are deformed (I inherited all the genes that lead to any kind of orthopedic problem just about anywhere in the body; thanks, Mom and Dad!) it's quite difficult for me to even put them on...I need to use both hands. They will not just slip on. When I see other people wearing flip flops my own feet hurt FOR those people!

    Recently I bought two pairs of non-neakers but they are orthopedic-type shoes...sort of Grown Up sneakers. I just HATE shopping for shoes and these are supposed to last for a very long time. They do not feel as good as my beloved sneakers but are a tiny bit dressier and do not hurt as much as heels do.

  18. Diane Russom HarrisonJuly 15, 2012 at 5:34 PM

    I love flip flops. For around the house and casual occasions I wear those made by Under Armor. They have brightly colored soles and are padded with great arch support. I also have blinged out flip flops for dressier occasions but usually start with some pretty high wedge sandals until my feet go numb! BTW, having to have your toenails polished is not a punishment...a good pedicure with foot massage can solve all the stresses of daily life!

  19. Flip flops forever! :) For people who have trouble with the thin-sole type, there's an amazing brand from the UK called Fitflop. They are the most comfortable shoes in the WORLD, with very thick soles. Since discovering them, I have acquired several pair because I never want to wear anything else. Highly recommended.

    Hallie, we called them zories, too, on the east coast. But then I saw an actual "zori" at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto displayed/discussed as a traditional Japanese shoe. So maybe it was a slang thing?

  20. Back in the Dark Ages when I was a kid, my dad was stationed in Japan where everyone wore zories (not a brand name, Japanese for flip-flops). I even had awesome socks with a big toe to wear in the winter (forget what the name was).

    Now, like many others, I cannot tolerate the between-the-toe thing and I absolutely will not go barefoot in the airport. I stick to slip-ons. Are they still called mules or go-aheads or is there a new name?

    I look forward to seeing Jack in stilletos.

  21. I'm a flip-flop girl April to November. I'll be wearing them to a friends 100th birthday party on Saturday. I have plains pairs and bling pairs. I go barefoot in the house.

    The cost of flip flops amazes me. What happened to getting them for $10 a pair with 2 for $10 on sale?