Flip flops are the ultimate effort-free footwear: no socks required, they go with almost any summer clothing, they’re waterproof and comfortable, they come in a variety of colours and styles, and, above all, they are hideously cheap.
As summer approaches, most High Street clothing retailers will start stocking flip flops in a number of different styles. Most conform to the laid-back image of flip flops – simple and ready to wear – but every year you will be able to find flip flop/ mule crosses, flip flops with kitten heels, flip flops with elaborate patterns and accessories, and flip flops that cost a surprising lot of money.
Plain plastic is the original but no longer really the best. This simple and very cheap-looking style is available in almost any colour you can think of, and is sold everywhere, from supermarkets to chemists and beachside tourist shops. They cost very little and look it. The best thing about this sort of flip flop is that it is durable and ideal for wearing to the beach, while some of the more elaborate styles are more likely to last only one summer.
That said, from a fashion point of view, flip flops that use materials other than plastic for the sole and straps make far more of a statement than plain plastic. A number of High Street retailers have started exclusively selling unconventional flip flops, with straps made of canvas or linen and soles made of synthetic woodchip. Corduroy or tweed flip flops are still cheap to manufacture yet look more impressive than simple plastic, and can even look good with informally smart office wear.
Nowadays, other materials used in the manufacture of the straps and sole include leather, suede and wood, although these sorts of flip flops tend to resemble mules and strappy sandals more than traditional flip flops.
Since flip flops are usually so simple and universally popular, it can be easy to forget the importance of ensuring they are comfortable. The part of the strap that fits between your toes can often seem uncomfortable at first, but the material generally softens with wear. However, the more elaborate designs in particular can actually prove rather uncomfortable if the straps themselves are made of a hard leather or suede, or if the sole is not rubbery enough to provide support as you walk. Make sure you buy the right size, since flip flops that are too small will not only chafe along the strap, but can also bruise the heel of your foot and cause back pain through insufficient support.