Then why are we wearing flip-flops? When did it become socially acceptable for grown men to wear flip-flops in public? The flagrant use of casual open-toed sandals as default footwear points to a more insidious issue in the modern male psyche: the slow crumbling of Style in the American Man.
Style is important. It communicates identity. Style says, “This is who I am. This is what I like.” Let’s break down the game film. In every movie we've ever seen that was produced before the year 1982, Jimmy Stewart wore a hat; Cary Grant wore a suit; and Sean Connery -- the undisputed Heavyweight James Bond of the World – wore a tuxedo. And in none of those movies, did a grown man ever allow himself to be seen wearing flip-flops in public. Why? Because the world is not a laconic beach, and we’re not a seventeen-year-old Sean Penn learning about Cuba. We’re citizens of the world. We’re men. So, fellas, let's put on some socks.
Don't get me wrong here. I understand the joy and comfort of the flip flop all to well. I grew up in Santa Barbara, California surfing every day. There's nobody who wants to slip on a pair of Reefs when I leave the house more than I do. Those things form to your feet like warm butter. But there comes a time when we men become adults and can do adult things. We can rent cars. We can order scotch. We can learn that 401k isn't the start of a license plate. And none of these things should be done while wearing flip-flops.
Now, when we're tossing out the trash, or taking our dog for a quick walk in the morning before heading to the office while our inner-monologue is chanting, “Coffee's for closers,” feel free to slip on the thongs.
The day finally came when I realized I should step out of adolescence and into manhood and I should have shoes on while doing so. And by God, those shoes should have laces. Here are a few pages from the playbook that helped me get here.
Looking Good Is More Important Than Feeling Good The fact of the matter is this: shoes are not as comfortable as flip-flops. I know it. You know it. On hot days especially, nobody wants to put on shoes. Let alone socks. But here's the thing, you will never regret looking like a stud. Take pride in your appearance. So, while the rest of the Ikea furniture shopping, Jaegermeister drinking, tank-top wearing dudes are asking where the beer-pong table is, we'll be looking like Ryan Gosling in that movie our ex-girlfriend likes. You know the one.
QB-1 The Sperry Topsider. This is our number one pick in the draft. It's airy. It's comfortable. It's fashionable. It’s best worn without socks so it has the comfort of sandals, yet the elegance of Cary Grant on a Riva. And best of all, it has laces, but still slips on. We can't go wrong here. This is the Derringer in the boot that is becoming our closet.
Come Fly With Me We all know airport security is hell on earth. We've empowered eight-dollar-an-hour guy to have complete and utter control over our lives. Never has so much faith been put in a blue wind breaker. I imagine the reincarnated spirit of John Wayne having to fly Southwest out of Burbank today. “Whaddaya mean I gotta take my hat off, my boots off, and my belt off, Pilgrim?” The Duke would then punch eight-dollar-an-hour guy right in the teeth. But sadly, for all of us, we are not John Wayne.
So we must oblige if we want to get past Hudson News and reach the part of the terminal with the Dunkin' Donuts. Now, I don't like untying my shoes, and with them my dignity, and depositing my effects in a plastic tub any more than you do. I'm with you. But does that mean we should let the plebes win by wearing flip flops? Airline travel used to be a novelty. It was rare. It was exotic. Dignified people dressed for it and glowed with excitement. Men wore suits and ties. And women, summer dresses. And sometimes even gloves. I'm not saying you need to put on your dad's Bass wingtips. Though, it would be nice. All I'm asking is that we ask ourselves, do we really want to sacrifice our dignity for convenience? Let's be better. Let's travel like we're in black and white. We might like it.
So, next time we're awoken by the sound of scratching at the door because our dog needs to do his business feel free to slip on those flip flops. But when it’s time to have a steak lunch with a dry gin martini, maybe consider those Cole Haan cap-toes in the back of the closet you bought for that one dude's wedding eight months ago. Let’s take a page out of our fore-bearer’s style book. Sure, we have big shoes to fill. But we’re man enough to fill them.