They're only ever appropriate on a beach. They're not gentlemanly. They make guys look juvenile, or effeminate, or just generally odd. They put your gnarly feet on full display. We've heard just about every reason in the book as to why men shouldn't wear sandals, and disagree with all of them.
To begin with, the style has been around for about 10,000 years – sagebrush sandals from about 8,000 BC, found in a cave in Oregon and then carbon dated, are the oldest known shoes of any kind. The Egyptians wore them. The Greeks wore them. The Romans wore them. They've been part of our shared sartorial history for thousands and thousands of years, in all kinds of permutations from all kinds of cultures across the planet.
As for their place in American wardrobe, American GIs in WWII brought the style home from the front lines of the Pacific. The traditional Japanese sandals, called zōri, evolved into what we now know as modern-day flip flops, and took hold in America's midcentury style playbook.
So given that they've got a far-reaching history and have been worn by gladiators, philosophers, samurais, and soldiers alike, you should feel just fine wearing them in the modern day.
Beyond that, the practicality should be enough to convince any guy. Because while a nice pair of lace-ups or leather sneakers is great most of the time, scorching hot days – especially if you live in a city and do a decent amount of walking – are not much fun with stiff shoes. Try running a lunch hour errand on a 90° day in a pair of wingtips and you'll see for yourself.
All that said, there are some caveats.
Get a Quality Pair
You don't have to spend a lot, but you do have to keep looks and materials in mind. Because while inexpensive foam pairs are fine for your beach volleyball game, they don't translate very well to casual daily wear. Instead, we like minimal, low-profile leather flip flops – they're great for your classic beach and boardwalk kind of days, but also look nice with denim and a wrinkled oxford in a laid-back office. Which is why we custom designed a pair for our Jetty box.
Take Care of Your Feet
It's common to hear people imply or outright say that men's feet are ugly, and wearing open-toed shoes should be off-limits so that other people don't have to suffer the sight. That's somewhat fair if you've got all kinds of calluses, overgrown nails, or skin issues. But so long as you know how to trim your toenails and don't have a major case of Athlete's Foot, what's the problem?
If you want to be cautious, though, spend a few minutes to get your feet in good shape. Some moisturizer – or, better yet, soothing foot cream – can help heal and freshen you up, and exfoliating with a gritty body wash or a pumice stone can will clear away calluses and dead skin. Put a bandage over any blisters or cuts. If you're really self-conscious, hit up a nail salon to get a pedicure. And of course, don't forget to clip your nails every once in a while.
Know the Dress Code
They're a no-brainer for beach days. But all kinds of relaxed, not-too-dressy occasions – rooftop bars, barbecues, picnics, weekend errands, ball games – are fair game, too. If you work at the kind of office where hoodies and shorts are more common than blazers and bluchers, you might be ablt to get away with them for your nine to five as well, provided you don't have any big meetings.
Where we draw the line is the more buttoned-up stuff. If your office is on the dressier side, you've got a dinner date planned, you're going to an upscale cocktail spot, or you're getting lunch with the in-laws, stick to something with closed toes.