What are flip flops? 

Flip-flops are a simple type of footwear in which there is a band between the big toe and the other toes.

Flip Flops

Flip-flops are a type of open-toed footwear sandal, typically worn as a form of casual wear. They consist of a flat sole held loosely on the foot by a Y-shaped strap or thong that passes between the first and second toes and around both sides of the foot.  The name "flip-flop" originated from the sound made by the slapping of the sole, foot and floor when walking. 

The flip-flop is common for summer time activities such as hanging out by a lake, river, pool, or beach.  They are good for walking the boardwalk near a beach, but you may want to take them off when you get onto the sand (or the sand flips up like crazy).

Flip-Flop History

This style of footwear has been worn by the people of many cultures throughout the world, originating as early as the ancient Egyptians in 1,500 B.C. (possibly earlier).

The flip-flop began gaining in popularity in the USA after soldiers returning from World War II were bringing the Japanese zōri with them.  The modern flip-flop descends from the Japanese zōri.  As they became adopted into American popular culture, the sandals were redesigned and changed into the bright colors that dominated 1950’s design.  

This footwear style quickly became popular due to the shoes convenience and comfort.  They were popular in beach community stores and as summer shoes around the country.  During the 1960’s, flip-flops became firmly associated with the beach lifestyle of California.  

Women's Flip-Flops

Flip flops are primarily a casual accessory, typically worn with shorts, bathing suits, or summer dresses.  As they became more popular, some people started wearing them for more dressy or formal occasions.  In our opinion, the traditional flip flop style is not generally appropriate for formal occasions.  Possibly, another type of sandal can be acceptable, but flip-flops should remain for more casual events.

Should flip-flops be worn with socks?

Because of the strap between the toes, flip-flops are typically not worn with socks. Though, in colder weather, some people may wear flip-flops with toe socks.  The Japanese commonly wear tabi with their zōri sandals, which is a traditional sock with a single slot for the thong. 

What are the difference between sandals & flip flops?

Flip-flops are a type of sandal.

Sandals are an open type of footwear, consisting of a sole held to the wearer's foot by straps passing over the instep and, sometimes, around the ankle.  The modern flip-flop has a very simple design, consisting of a thin rubber sole with two straps running in a Y shape from the sides of the foot to the gap between the big toe and the one beside it.

International Names for Flip-Flops (or similar footwear)

The term flip-flop has been used in American and British English since the 1970s.  This footwear has a number of other names around the world.  They are called thongs in Australia, jandals (originally a trademarked name derived from "Japanese sandals") in New Zealand, slops in South Africa and tsinelas in Philippines (in some Visayan localities as "smagul", from the word smuggled).  India and Pakistan, flip-flops are commonly known as hawai chappal.  Japanese wear similarly designed, traditional straw sandals known as zōri.  Vietnam dép tông or dép xỏ ngón.   They are called chinelos in Brazil, japonki in Poland, dacas in Somalia, sayonares (σαγιονάρες) in Greece, Schlapfen in Austria, slippers in Hawaii and the Netherlands, tsinelas in the Philippines, infradito in Italy, djapanki (джапанки) in Bulgaria, and vietnamki in Russia and Ukraine. 

Designer Brand Flip-Flops

What are flip-flops made of?

This type of sandal can be made from a wide variety of materials.  If you were so inclined, you can actually make them from the rubber of old tires.  The modern sandals are made of more modern materials, such as rubber, foam, plastic, leather, suede, and even fabric.  This type of shoe is often worn around wet conditions so it is generally good to utilize fabrications that do not get negatively affected by water.

Learn about other open-toe shoes and other types of shoe styles in our footwear terms section.

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