Experts tell Moneyish the best value flip-flops for relaxing on the beach, walking comfortably or dressing up
It’s flip-flop season.
The unfussy sandal you slip on for beach trips or errands comes in a slew of styles and prices — ranging from an affordable $5 Old Navy pair to $200 patent leather ones by Tory Burch to a staggering $620 crocodile leather style by Italian designer Bottega Veneta.
But with so little foot support and even less material, style experts say designer flip-flops aren’t typically worth the splurge.
“Paying more than $30 for a pair of flip-flops is madness, in my opinion,” journalist Hannah Rochell, who runs the fashion blog En Brogue and freelances for the Evening Standard, told Moneyish. “Aside from the fact that you’re not getting much shoe for your dollar — two slabs of rubber and a couple of thongs — they’re really not suitable for more than poolside or beach use. Flip flops are definitely not an investment item; the construction varies very little from brand to brand, so forking out for a designer pair won’t make a lot of difference to the quality.” Rochell praised a pair of rubber Havaianas she’s had for several years and uses strictly for the pool.
Doctors say it’s best to pick a pair that has some cushioning, and to avoid wearing them for more than three hours at a time so you don’t get foot cramps — after all, these shoes weren’t made for long periods of walking.
“They have no ankle support, but that’s only an issue if you’re not being careful,” Dr. Jeffrey C. Schildhorn, an orthopedic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital, told Moneyish. “Rubber is fine because it gives you traction. It’s cheaper and makes it easy to consider them disposable. Anything that has a leather sole is going to be a little harder for more support. When you’re going to get wet, go rubber and plastic; when you want to go elegant, go with leather.”
Despite being ubiquitous during the summer, the flip-flop has actually seen a decline in sales as consumers favor the more on-trend slide. Flip-flop sales in the U.S. from April through September 2017 declined by 9% from the previous year. Meanwhile, sales of sports slides grew by 31% during those months, retail market research firm NPD Group told Moneyish.
“During the past two spring/summer seasons, the sports slide has emerged as a strong competitor to the traditional flip-flop, from both athletic and fashion brands,” said Beth Goldstein, NPD’s fashion footwear and accessories analyst. “This has been driven by the athletic-inspired aesthetic as well as the comfort of the footbed.”
But if you’re going to stick to the flip-flop, opt for one that’s waterproof.
“The rubber styles are your best option because they’re longer-lasting,” said Olivia Fernandes, a New York City-based style expert. “You’re using it primarily for the pool or the beach, so you want to make sure you have something that’s weather-resistant.
Here are some of your best options to try this summer:
For the pool or beach
A pair of $25 Havaianas are a perfect fit for a day at the pool or beach, said Rochelle, who has worn hers for more than five years.
“A comfortable flip-flop is one that is easy to slip on and off, lightweight, and made of a soft materials such as rubber. A flip-flop that you can wear all day and makes your feet feel ‘free’ is the best sensation on a nice, sunny day,” said Eno Polo, President of Alpargatas USA, Inc., the parent company of Havaianas — adding that more than 240 million pairs of Havaianas are sold every year.
“When Havaianas started in the 1960s, it was the most popular shoe in the favelas of Brazil and became a huge success because of its incredible product benefits (long lasting, keeping its shape, non-smelling),” he added.
Rochell also recommends the British brand Grandy’s, which sells classic styles for under $30 and donates 10% of profits to charity.
Those looking for less of a fashion statement and strictly a comfortable walking option could consider OOFOS flip-flops for around $40. According to their website, the sandals are “biomechanically engineered to alleviate the foot stress and soreness caused by your daily grind. Perfect for casual wear, recovery after a grueling run, or relaxing after a long day on your feet.”
If you have a little extra dough to drop on a sleek summer shoe, opt for Tkees in leather or patent leather styles for a more dressed-up look.
“It’s a dressed up flip-flop. You can walk into a meeting wearing them and you won’t look ridiculous,” Fernandes said. “They’re slim and compact, so you can carry them in a clutch if you want to swap out your heels for walking around.”
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