Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday Finds: Flip Flop Alternatives

In three seasons of Project Runway, I can't recall an instance where I disagreed with Tim Gunn's take on a garment. I think it's great that he's gotten so much attention lately (how rare it is that someone gets attention for something other than outrageous, attention-seeking behavior) and I was happy to hear that he'd been given a book deal last year. The man just oozes class and sophistication (two words not commonly used in discussion of current fashions), and it's no surprise that someone thought that Tim's deep-rooted understanding of style, lovable personality and experience as an educator would also translate well into writing.

In the name of "blog research," I ordered Tim's book, "Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style," hoping to pick up some tips on how to achieve those wonderful yet vague terms "elegance," "style" and "class." Unfortunately, I found the book very disappointing. Turns out I'm not the only one who has a hard time explaining what these terms mean and how to achieve them, because much of the advice in the book is very ambiguous ("If you consider your wardrobe to be a sphinx, then the sphinx's riddle is surely, "who are you?" Only you possess the answer.") or unrelated thoughts inserted randomly ("Please conceal your midriff" is thrown in at the end of a chapter on establishing your identity). Then there's the cliched advice about throwing out stuff you don't wear and finding a fashion mentor, yadda yadda... in all, I found very little useful, specific advice about how to achieve "quality, taste and style" and a lot of anecdotes about Tim's loving (but slightly oddball) relationship with his mother.

But there was one point Tim made that really struck me. He talks about the "flip-flop phenomenon," using those ubiquitous slabs of rubber to symbolize the lack of effort most people put into getting dressed. According to him, what we wear sends a message about what kind of person we are, and that if you're leaving your house, there's never a reason why you shouldn't look presentable. Even if it's just to pick up some coffee or get groceries, you're interacting with people, and it's only fair that you show them the respect that you'd show anyone else you cared about. Plus, you never know when you're going to run into someone you definitely want to look good for (business acquaintences, ex-boyfriends, etc). Sweats and flip flops definitely don't make the cut.

One of my goals this year has been to try and put in a little more effort than usual when I'm going about my daily routine. To be honest, I've fallen back into old habits ("I plan on going to the gym tonight, so I'll just wear my sweats all day"-type excuses seem to come up a lot), but Tim's advice made me want to get back on the wagon.

Exchanging your sweats for nicer casual clothes (a nice fitted t-shirt and flattering jeans) is definitely the biggest step toward presentability, but I realized that it's the accessories that can really make or break a basic outfit. We turn to flip-flops because in warm weather they're comfortable, easy to throw on and seem to work with anything. I set out to find a few alternatives to the flip-flop: something more interesting than a basic flat that adds a lot to a casual outfit, without sacrificing comfort, ease or walkability. And as always, I limited myself to pairs under $100 that you can order online. There are so many great, inexpensive shoes out there that there's no reason why you can't relegate your flip-flops to the shower and the beach.

Dolce Vita "Athens 12" thong sandal, from Nordstrom, $69.95

BP "Edie" flat, from Nordstrom, $44.95

Nine West "Gavin" flat, from Zappo's, $72.95
Dolce Vita "Vienna-21 flat," from Nordstrom, $94.95

Old Navy "Patent Thong" sandal, $16.50

Poetic License "Check mate" flat, from Nordstrom, $64.95


EthidiumBromide said...

I LOVE TIM GUNN! I mean, I've always liked him, but now he is my hero. I HATE flip flops, because they look so.. sloppy and immature. They're fine for the beach or the pool where they are practical, but that is IT. I find myself continually surrounded by people who wear flip flops all the time, and I find them to be totally unacceptable and borderline disgusting as a form of footwear to wear in public. I thought I was the only one who felt this way (judging from the fact that everyone else I know covets flip-flops)... thank you, Tim Gunn!

Anonymous said...

Hah, after reading this post, I went out and bought flip flops. Rubber, size too large, baby blue with plastic hearts flip flops. I even walked through Nordstroms, looked at all of the amazing shoes, and continued on to Forever 21. I feel like I am disappointing Tim Gunn personally, but I do enjoy flip flops, and as a college student, I try not to take myself too seriously. $6.50 flip flops over $68.00 shoes anytime...

The mommanista said...

Those are some great shoes.

I certinaly think flip-flps (nice leather ones, with sleek lines and some shape to the sole) can be as dressy as any of these though. Flip-flops dont have to be be rubber.

Aruek said...

I love salt water sandals. I used to wear them all the time when I was a child and I just bought a pair to wear now (I'm a college student).

dakiwiboid said...

My dear, where I come from, shoes that cost over $90 are not considered "inexpensive". Sorry.

dakiwiboid said...

My dear, where I come from, shoes that cost over $90 are not considered "inexpensive". Sorry.