Sunday, May 20, 2007

In search of a better Mandal

The days are getting warmer, and I can't help but notice the overwhelming number of men wearing flip-flops out there on the streets. Though I'm happy to report fewer Croc sightings (read my Croc rant from last summer), it seems that rubber sabots are not just for surfers and rice farmers anymore.

I fully support equal-opportunity footwear for men and women, but I draw the line at flip-flops. Sure, they might be the most basic and popular form of footwear in the world, but I'm not happy that guys think it's okay to wear them out to dinner, or to work, or anywhere else in public with me for that matter. They kinda work well on the beach, at the pool or in your gym locker room, but for me personally, flip-flops look best on young women with small, tidy-looking, hairless feet and pretty pink toenails. Yes, I know they are cool and comfortable and go with everything, but they're also a little bit gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I am truly sympathetic that there aren't a lot of macho sandals available for men, but in my opinion, flip-flops are the second assault wave of Global Pyjamafication. It's bad enough that a growing population of men and women think it's okay to wear track suits and yogawear to work, or to a nice restaurant. I'm sorry, but it's not okay to wear shower shoes either. So let's look at the options:

Sport sandals: Also known as "mandals" - they're great for hiking, camping, weekends, etc., but they leave that black gunk all over your feet and between the toes, so you might as well wear sneakers.

Fisherman sandals (aka Jesus slippers): The leather classic. Great for work, or with dressy attire. Looks stupid with white socks. I think this is my favourite mandal option, though I suppose they can be too heavy on really hot days, and they are rarely available in colours other than black or brown. I'm not suggesting these should be available in other colours, because there are only a few good men who pull off powder blue mandals.

The slip-on: Not so bad for casual hanging out, but they still make that annoying slapping sound like flip-flops, and they're a one-way ticket to a podiatrist. There's a guy in my office who wears these things (with black trouser socks...mmmm sexy!), and you can hear him approach you from 50 feet in any direction.

Espadrilles: There's a fine line between "shoe" and "sandal" and that line is covered in mesh. They are cool and comfy, but offer excellent coverage, and I actually like these on guys, but one of my male friends said it best: "I kinda feel like Sonny Crockett. That cannot be good."

Clogs: Probably best left to the Dutch.

Incidentally, senior management recently released a memo to all staff in my office regarding summer dress code, and the wearing of "thongs" (aka flip flops) is now strictly prohibited. The women were aghast and organized a protest because they interpreted this to mean underwear, not footwear. I cannot help but view this as a win-win situation. No flip-flops + no underwear = friendly workplace.

So, what are your feet wearing this summer?

Stay tuned this week for part 2 in this series, when Katrocket goes "in search of a better man" to go with the sandals.


Bert Bananas said...

Footwear is such a personal choice, and with what I believe to be 'baggage.'

My boys have NEVER seen me in flip-flops, anything remotely looking like a sandal, slip-ons, etc. All they know are hiking boots and white low top tennis shoes. Oh yeah, and golf shoes...

Why? Because that's how I grew up, with a golfing dad who let his aversion to anything other than loafers and boots be well known.

I don't have to defend this. F U if you don't like my dad's choices, my choices or my kids' choices. But I understand that you might have different baggage and I won't automatically dismiss any guy who shows up at my door in sandals or flip flops. I'd maturely give such an individual maybe 10 to 15 minutes of my time...

katrocket said...

In 'real life' I don't dismiss people based on their footwear because I have 'baggage'. But I do write about it for my own entertainment on a blog that almost no one reads.

And FU if you can't tell the difference.

Bert Bananas said...


Does going FU FU make us interior decorators?

Snooze said...

"Global Pyjamification" is the perfect term. I love it.

It took me years before I would even wear open toed shoes at work, and I will never succumb to flip flops. I wish women would stop wearing them to the office - not that men start. That said, I think I'm with you on the fisherman sandals being the best option for men.

katrocket said...

ha! FU FU is very funny to me, because I do have two friends who own an interior decorating business called "FrooFroo"!!

Snooze: I must give credit to Stacy & Clinton from What Not to Wear, who often speak of "the Pyjamafication of America" when lamenting about the casual fashion trends in our society.

pistols at dawn said...

Kudos to you and your trenchant insight! I, too, have noticed of late a ridiculous number of people wearing flip-flops everywhere, which is odd, because I live roughly three hours from the beach (even when I did live at the beach, I wore them sparingly, as feet are always hideous and should remain as out of sight as possible).

However, as a child of the 1980s, I will say this: Run-DMC proved that it was all right to wear track suits everywhere. After all, they were the kings of rock, there are none higher, and therefore they had the ultimate clothing-based authority.

However: sandals are for filthy, filthy hippies, and odds are, gents, you do not live in Vermont. So sack up and buy some damn shoes.

Re: Pyjamafication - it's all right with me, because I am lazy, poor, and like imagining that I'm out getting breakfast after a night of making out with any attractive woman around who's dressed (or not dressed) the part.

Post-script: I love the idea of protesting a no thongs policy. Foxiest workplace ever! And who decided "thongs" made sense? That's like calling an umbrella a "cock ring," and expecting everyone to instantly cotton to it with no weird looks at all thrown your way.

katrocket said...

I really don't care what people wear. If you're comfortable and feel good about yourself, then go ROCK that emsemble with pride, regardless of how unappropriate it may be for a given situation. Like Bert says, fashion is ultimately one's deeply personal choice, and I'm not asking y'all to defend yourselves against Fashion Crimes. This post is just about how shocked I was to see that flip-flops have evolved from beachwear to generally accepted everyday casual attire in such a short period of time.

I love track suits and comfy cotton t-shirts, jeans etc, when I'm just hanging out with friends or at home, but I try to look more a little more polished when I go to work, go out on a date, or to a social gathering.

Pistols hit the mark with the words: "I am lazy". Well, when it comes to household chores, returning phone messages, and running marathons --so am I. But I would rather not project a slovenly image as a first impression to my clients or potential mates.

and dearest Pistols... some unsolicited advice from a single woman who has a successful dating history in spite of my endless faults: Plenty of women don't care that you're poor. But most of them find a funny, clean, nicely dressed man absolutely irresistable, sometimes at the expense of temperament, intelligence and compatilbility. So if you'd prefer to have breakfast with a real woman that you've actually made out with the night before, consider investing in some nice clothes. And nice clothes are NOT, by extension, uncomfortable. They don't have to be expensive, as long as they fit you well. You may also need to spend a little extra on a big stick to beat back the all the ladies.

pistols at dawn said...

Hmmm. I detect an attitude that's amazingly defensive for a Canadian (note to self: update invasion plans to incorporate the possibility they will fight back).

Re: dates and social settings, what are they like? I have seen movies where these things happen, but have yet to experience them myself. Perhaps this is because I still wear t-shirts from high school.

I do enjoy projecting a lazy image to potential mates, however, because they need to know they'll be doing most of the work - buying flowers for themselves, complimenting themselves, etc. And usually, once the light of day hits, I'm not interested in anything with them, breakfast included.

I appreciate the insight, however. I've always found it best to get a girlfriend who will help me pick out a wardrobe which will help me get the next girl (or series of girls). Given my impending social/workplace change, I will need to start off on as right a foot as I can with any and all women, especially given the potential advantage this will give me over the sandal-clad dudes.

katrocket said...

Clearly you're an awesome catch for the Pragmatistas who dig that WYSIWYG lifestyle.

The Guv'ner said...

Liberace could totally rock powder blue sandals. So long as they also had sequins and rhinestones and possibly both.

I'm all for people of both sexes wearing footwear that will keep them cool in summer but you are correct, it's about being appropriate and some rubber flops might not be quite right with that suit, senor.

Since I'm totally inappropriate though, I reserve the right to wear my clunky DM sandals to the office at all times in summer with cargo pants. Of course not having a dress code helps. And being around creative people who think they're overdressed in bahama shorts and flops, I look positively buttoned up!

Re: the Dutch clogs. I'll butter and eat a mailbox if the person who lives in the apartment upstairs from me isn't wearing those 24/7.

pistols at dawn said...

I am never an "awesome catch," though that is totally my group of women. As I told one girlfriend, I'm an excellent lemon sorbet, a palette cleanser between far more important courses. No one's cross-stitching my name on any sewing projects, that's all I'm sayin'.

katrocket said...

guv'ner: Liberace is exactly one of the Few Good Men I was thinking of. Also: Elton, Prince, Jacko, Carson from Queer Eye, Dennis Rodman, and my friend Christabel.

Pistols: being a lemon sorbet makes you a little tart, and frankly, you don't seem that easy.

Birdy said...

Fuck that. If you're anywhere where it's OK for your feet to be out then man-up and go barefoot. Otherwise, wear some shoes like a gentleman.

And yeah, I didn't really read the comments here because they're all damn long. So maybe you're all thinking the same thing. I don't know. You sure do hang out with some verbose people Kat.