continued attempts not to look like a jackass

posted by tom / April 12, 2006 /

Becks is stumped about finding sandals that are comfortable. I sympathize, but my needs are humbler*: I'd just like some that leave me my dignity.

Men have no good sandal options. Flip-flops? Frat boy. Tevas? Hippie. Birkenstocks? California hippie. I like wearing all of these, but short of the classic Roman centurion sandal, it'd be hard to call any open-air male footwear respectable. And even if this last option was available, you'd still need to be sporting a cloak and crested helmet to really complete the look. That's just not practical for the beach.

The only solution may be surrender — that's right, the old man sandals-over-black-socks technique. I used to think it was an early sign of dementia, but now I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't just a big fuck you to fashion norms.

* Probably because, as a member of the podiatric patriarchy, there's no onus on me to wear shoes that are really really uncomfortable.


I always thought tevas meant straight up dork. In my experience, they're usually accompanied by elastic waist khaki shorts with lots of pockets and an oversized mathcamp t-shirt.

Personally, I rock a five buck pair of k-mart flip-flops that I bought to use as shower shoes my freshman year of college, some 9 years ago. Beyond that, grown men shouldn't wear open-toed shows (especially in laboratories).

Posted by: Ryan on April 12, 2006 03:19 PM

Dude, I live in my Birkenstocks.

Posted by: Cyrus Farivar on April 12, 2006 04:01 PM

Yeah, but you write for a magazine dedicated to Apple computer. It's sort of expected.

And Ryan: you're right about not wearing open-toed shoes. But I hate that you're right. Because if you rule out sandals, you're basically ruling out shorts as well. Soon enough the only way for a guy to look non-ridiculous is to never leave the house unless he's dressed for cold weather. Which is dumb.

Posted by: tom on April 12, 2006 04:06 PM

No doubt you and Catherine will know about this better than I do, but I'd venture the solution to your conundrum lies in the answer to the question that should be asked of all serious footwear inquiries: WWID? What Would the Italians Do, Tom?

However, if this thread leads to a definitive rationale that all men over age 14 should stop wearing shorts and sandals altogether, I would not complain. You dudes do indeed look stupid in them no matter what you do (house and yard work excepted).

Posted by: Sommer on April 12, 2006 04:27 PM

An anonymous correspondent suggested these. They seem about as close to stylish as one could reasonably expect (if a little pricey). What do you guys think?

Posted by: tom on April 12, 2006 04:38 PM

And as for the Italians -- I don't really remember, but I doubt they ever wear sandals. They exemplify the men-must-be-overdressed-at-all-times aesthetic better than anyone, I think. The only Italians wearing sandals while we were there were probably the teenagers, and you'd really not want to adopt their sense of fashion.

Posted by: tom on April 12, 2006 04:42 PM

I was about to say that those Ankola slides might fit the bill. Until I remembered that you're a heterosexual.

Posted by: Sommer on April 12, 2006 04:48 PM

Hey speaking of sandals that men and, in my opinion, noone over the age of 10 should wear. Crocs. These things are bright and ugly and all the rage in Colorado. The HORROR!

Posted by: Julie on April 12, 2006 04:48 PM

The cover of Steve Malkmus's "Discretion Grove" single taught me that it's okay for men to wear flip flops again. In fact, I wear nothing but from May to September. Okay, sometime I wear clothes too, but always with flip flops.

Posted by: rcr on April 12, 2006 04:52 PM

Fair enough, Sommer. But what about the leather flip flops on that page? Sure, they might still be a little fratty, but it seems like they at least say "I'm a fratboy with a rich father". And everybody likes those guys!

And Julie: we are in agreement. Those are pretty awful.

Posted by: tom on April 12, 2006 04:53 PM

They're acceptable. And if you're willing to live with the decision to spend $90 on flip flops, then I say go for it.

Posted by: Sommer on April 12, 2006 04:58 PM

Hmm. No, probably not $90 pair. I could talk myself into the $60 ones, though, if I knew they'd be more comfortable and longer-lasting than the junky chunks of vinyl I get from Old Navy every year for $5.

Posted by: tom on April 12, 2006 05:02 PM

I got a pair from the gap for $6 that lasted 2 years. They were also caked in blood from all the times I tripped and stubbed my toe while drunk, which of course gave me huge street cred.

Posted by: rcr on April 12, 2006 05:53 PM

Flip-flops! Shorts too. And I even have an extremely fratty tatt near my right ankle. And I wear a baseball cap and beer gut all summer long. Fuck it all, bra, where's the party?

Posted by: Kriston on April 12, 2006 06:42 PM

I'm a proud Californian, through and through! :-)

Posted by: Cyrus Farivar on April 12, 2006 06:55 PM

italian men as far as i remember tend to wear those kind of woven leather mediterranean sandals that only they and gay men can pull off. personally, i've never had a problem with regular flip flops on guys. they don't totally scream fratty to me.

my fashion dilemma is that as i get older and older, i feel weirder and weirder wearing shorts, especially the shorter ones that i used to wear in college, etc. soon i will be overtaken by highwaisted knee-length shorts, and then i will cry.

Posted by: catherine on April 12, 2006 07:39 PM

btw the anonymous correspondent mentioned above was ogged, wasn't it? i'm positive he wears those sorts of sandals.

Posted by: catherine on April 13, 2006 12:24 AM

I think flip-flops are a little skeeve, personally. What about these? Rugged, yet no visible neon yellow racing stripes. Refined, yet not suspiciously so. oh man I love looking at shoes on the internet.

Posted by: Emily on April 13, 2006 10:31 AM

Catherine, I couldn't possible reveal my source. Aren't they teaching you about journalistic ethics up there?

Posted by: tom on April 13, 2006 10:33 AM

ogged just needs to suck it up and start commenting again. he emails all the bloggers instead of posting his thoughts, and we all know it. ogged, come back into the fold. it's a happy place.

Posted by: catherine on April 13, 2006 10:59 AM

I've always thought Chacos were an acceptable alternative to Teva sandals. Chacos give you cred with the granola/hiking set, and from what I've heard they offer quite a bit of comfort and durability. Still, I've never mustered the courage to buy a pair.

(Full disclosure: I'm currently considering the purchase of gardening clogs (not necessarily that pair, mind you). I think clogs are the most unjustifiable member of the summer footwear family (for men at least). From there springs my attraction to them, I suppose.)

Posted by: Stanley on April 13, 2006 01:37 PM

OK. Man clogs are terrible. I hope you confine them entirely to the garden. Never in public, my friend. NEVER.

Re: flip flops, I'm with the anti group here. Though it is unfortunate that men really have no acceptable sandal options and must live with sweaty feet all summer long, it's hard for me to feel too sympathatic considering what women have to go through. I also will allow the concession that sometimes it's just hot and really you have no other choice but to just be uncool and fratty but feel the wind between your toes.

As to the gentleman who admitted to wearing flip flops from May to September, you clearly didn't attend UVa and so can't understand Tom's aversion. It's probably deeply entrenched at this point. Plus, if you want any indie cred at all, you'll have to cover up those lower digits. Hipsters definitely don't have toes.

And Catherine, invest in skirts, I say. There's no other choice. Shorts just look sillier and sillier the older you get unless they accompany workout clothes of some sort. Thems the breaks.

Posted by: Fashion Police on April 13, 2006 03:57 PM

As to the gentleman who admitted to wearing flip flops from May to September, you clearly didn't attend UVa

but see, he did!

Posted by: catherine on April 13, 2006 04:37 PM

I think she's referring to Mr. Capps. But Genevieve, my secret shame is that I loooove flip flops. I'm just embarrassed about it.

Posted by: tom on April 13, 2006 04:44 PM

Man clogs are terrible

I know! I think that's why I want them.

Posted by: Stanley on April 13, 2006 04:48 PM

i thought it was to RCR, who said the may-september thing. i like flip flops, too. i think they're fine on guys. isn't it better to spend under $15 on a pair of shoes that will make you feel comfortable rather than feel uncomfortable/stress/spend $90 on a pair of semi-ugly leather sandals?

Posted by: catherine on April 13, 2006 05:19 PM

Yeah. I mean, I like to wear flip-flops. Who doesn't? It's like being barefoot with less of a threat of foot lacerations and hook worms. But do they look good? On Men? I mean. Not really. Unless you're at the beach or poppin' the collar at the kegger cook-out listenin' to some OAR. As for Kriston, as evinced by the sweatband paired with pinstriped man-capris style he sported the other day, Kriston clearly marches to the beat of his own fashion drum.

Posted by: genevieve on April 13, 2006 05:25 PM

Oh yeah. You're probably right -- nevermind.

Posted by: tom on April 13, 2006 05:25 PM

Well, Tommy, I'll be in Williamsburg, Brooklyn this weekend. And I promise to report back on this spring's mens footwear trends.

Posted by: genevieve on April 13, 2006 05:27 PM

*shrug* i have no problem with the way they look. but i do agree they have terrible fratty connotations. i think it is time to reappropriate the flip flop for hipster use, guys. or else you'll be stuck wearing your new balances for the rest of the summer.

Posted by: catherine on April 13, 2006 06:54 PM

ted leo tshirt + glasses + cargo shorts + PBR in hand + flip flops = not fratty

popped collar pink polo + puckered easter-colored shorts + visor/raybans on hand + natty light + flip flops = fratty

flip flops are comfortable dammit. just wear them :)

Posted by: Naomi on April 14, 2006 11:59 AM

Get a pair of rainbows

Posted by: Georgia Brown on April 16, 2006 04:54 AM

Tell me what yall think. Blue or Black Polo's with white stripes, khaki shorts (normal length) and a pair of skechers leather sandals. Is this look pretty cool or does it seem kind of gay? Could the look work?

Posted by: Justin on June 23, 2006 11:44 PM

All I can do is laugh. I find that one of the many benefits of aging is learning that what others think of what others wear is usually of little consequence. As a guy in my late 50s now, I wear sandals (i despise flip-flop slapping noises, so I have those "gay" Italian/Greek kind and never ever with socks), and I don't give two hoots what others might think. When I was super young, it made me crazy that my Dad's generation wore their pants just below the armpits; when I was in my 30s and 40s it killed me to see a teen with pants down to the knees (as intended, of course). But, now I see how short life really is; and I see people's differences and idiosyncrasies as what make life fun and interesting and sometimes charming. I think I'm almost completely evolved in this issue now and I like seeing people who are that comfortable with themselves.

I'm not totally there yet though. I'm still working on one thing. You know the old lady at church that uses 4lbs of pancake mix for makeup? I'm still working on that one.

Posted by: ktripp on June 30, 2006 01:04 PM

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