Did you wear flip-flops or Crocs to work today? What were you thinking?
You know who you are and don’t try to quietly swap your street-grimed sandals or rubbery clodhoppers with those spare running shoes you keep in your desk drawer for emergencies. You have been outed and officially put on notice for your hideous footwear choices. The anti-flip-flop and anti-Croc majority are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.
Summer’s here and the time is right for people to reconsider their footwear options. A recent Slate piece by Dana Stevens provides a scathing diatribe against all-day urban flip-flop wear during summer season. The article is required reading for anyone who has been forced to sit across from a flip-flop wearer on any form of mass transit, or anywhere in public, really.
For Stevens, the crux of the flip-flop problem lies in the incessant decoupling of footwear from foot with each single step, which in effect connects to the decoupling of the wearer’s behaviour from civilized society.
In her view, continued flip-flop wearing transports people to some strange place where they’re unable to distinguish between a public place and their own living room.
For those of us living in cities, it’s a nasty new reality. When the writer expresses the horror of witnessing a flip-flop-wearing rider on the New York subway system slipping off their “shoes” altogether and contentedly putting their bare feet on the filthy subway car, we feel her pain.
And beyond the lack of support or protection from sharp objects and still-smouldering cigarette butts, the flip-flop is simply bad for the wearer, however cool he or she believes it make them look. How could walking around with only a half-inch of Styrofoam between your foot and the pavement ever be a sound footwear choice?
Stevens talks to a podiatrist and orthotics expert and both confirm that prolonged flip-flop wearing leads to a myriad of foot issues, including joint and soft-tissue problems and arthritis.
But possibly the biggest argument against flip-flops involves aesthetics. She rightfully points out that the flip-flop aficionado gives the perception that the wearer has forgotten to do anything at all with his or her body from the ankles down.
In Stevens' eyes, flip-flops are actually foot “robes,” equating the wearers to lazy-slacker types walking around in public in scruffy sidewalk-sweeping bathrobes. The mental image resonates because it sounds very much like people we see on the street everyday.
Accordingly, some flip-flop wearers consider Crocs formal footwear attire, but they’re wrong. Very wrong.
When Crocs first became popular in the early 2000s, the wearing of the clunky clog-like sandal was limited to small children and their doting, dopey parents, with the proviso they only wear them in the suburbs or to the beach.
Now all such rules have been cast off and people are wearing Crocs everywhere, even in the city. Last week I saw an entire Croc-wearing family happily having dinner on the outside patio of a restaurant located on a formerly cool area of Toronto’s Queen Street. It was probably not by accident they were the only patrons on the patio.
And the anti-Croc cause isn’t being helped one little bit by celebrity endorsements. Celebrity chef Mario Batali is unabashed in his love for the big baby shoes. At 52, he describes his style as “modified Seattle stoner” and says he likes the way the shoes “shame my friends in the fashion world.”
Batali freely admits to owning 50 pairs of Crocs, most of them orange – “because it’s such a happy colour.” Batali reportedly even wore a pair of Crocs to the funeral of James Gandolfini the other day. Way to show respect for the family, big guy.
But the big beef with Crocs, as with flip-flops, always comes back to personal choice and how it affects others. Some people simply don’t think about their fellow man, or woman, when they dress themselves. And obviously it’s not limited to footwear.
As Larry David has taught us, some men think it’s perfectly appropriate to wear shorts while traveling on an airplane, even in first class, but it’s unlikely there’s any way you could ever convince them otherwise. Their own personal comfort is simply too important, you realize. It’s a jungle out there.