Flip-Flopping Away the Career

By Manolo the Shoeblogger

Manolo says, here is the obvious article about the various career dangers of the flip-flops.

With more women wearing flip-flops to the office this summer, U.S. style gurus are warning that the casual shoe once mainly seen on the beach could be damaging to careers — as well as to feet.


An online survey conducted for retailers Old Navy and Gap found flip-flops topped the list of wardrobe items that college and high school students planned to wear to work this summer.

More than 31 percent of women said flip-flops were the single “must have” item for work this summer.

But many companies disagree.

“The dress code says no beach wear and flip-flops are considered beach wear,” said a spokeswoman for BNP Paribas.

Style gurus warn that flip-flops, which are worn mainly by younger women, could be harmful to a career.

“Shoes convey the mood of a woman. Wearing flip-flops conveys the mood that you are relaxed and on vacation. That’s not a good message in the office,” said Meghan Cleary, a style commentator who wrote the book “The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You.”

The Manolo’s internet friend the Miss Meghan she is, as usual, exactly correct. Unless you are working as the waitress at the beach cafe, or are the Jimmy Buffet, you should not be wearing the flip-flops to your place of professional employment.

And it is silly that we must even discuss this, just as it was silly last year when we were compelled to discuss the flip-flopping in the House of Whiteness.


45 Responses to “Flip-Flopping Away the Career”

  1. mr lux Says:

    wearing flip flops to the office is tacky imo

  2. Jess Says:

    I will be stoned by the readers of The Manolo and perhaps chastised by The Manolo himself but [gulp] I like flipflops. I like the look of them. And… I wear them into the office.

    Of course I work in a casual design firm where this is okay.

    But I’m not sure I’d want my investor wearing flippies…

  3. Gina Says:

    I think I have seen it all: flip-flops at a funeral. The mourner was in her late teens; she was wearing a very appropriate black dress. But she was wearing flip-flops on her feet. At her grandmother’s funeral.

  4. beth Says:

    Ditto Gina. I saw numerous people in flip flops at a funeral just two weeks ago. I was horrified!

  5. Peter Gøthgen Says:

    I teach at a public middle school. We were told several times that flip-flops are a no-no for both students and teachers. Many wore them anyway.

    What they fail to realize is that it becomes a safety issue. If the building catches fire (after seeing the build-up of lint in the dryers I was surprised it hadn’t already), or some other emergency happens, you need to be able to get out of the building. Flip flops = tripping = pile of people = obstruction = danger for even those smart enough to wear proper footwear.

    Plus, as the wife says, they are ugly.

  6. Phyllis Says:

    Give me ballet flats over flip flops any old day! 90% of people in this world (including me) have ugly feet and toes – who needs to see almost naked feet, totally exposed, in the office? A pedicure is just not enough coverage.

    And for the “I hate pantyhose” argument” – this is why they make leg makeup and peds.

  7. PaperPusher Says:

    Ok. I totally agree that flip flops at the office or for any formal or semi-formal function is entirely inappropriate. But how about going from home to the office? I usually take the train into work and it’s about a 15 to 20 minute walk for me from home to train station. For this walk, I really prefer comfortable walking shoes (I know already some of you don’t think flip flops are comfortable walking shoes) like flip flops, especially when it’s over 80 degrees outside and humid. Once I get into the office though, proper office shoes come on and the flip flops are banished until I’m leaving work. I do this for a couple of reasons, 1 comfort as I mentioned, and 2 saving my nice shoes from all the extra wear and tear. I spend money to buy nice shoes for work and I don’t want to wear them out prematurely for my commute. Thoughts? Can the Manolo also suggest attractive commuting shoes that are still comfortable? I’m sure you and your readers abhor the white tennis shoes with nylons and a skirt suit look and I do, too. But the walk!

  8. Nabushi Says:

    Manolo, thank you for highlighting this article. I work at a university, my department hires undergraduates as support staff, and we have a policy against flip flops in the office. We ask them to either wear “real” shoes or bring them to change into while they are at work – otherwise they are sent home to put on some real shoes, which effectively makes them “late.” Anyway, they always want to know WHY – well, no one wants to see their naked, possibly dirty, feet, and now we have THIS article to hand to them! Many, many thanks! (we also have a policy against exposed flesh between the neckline and the knees, after having seen far too many stretch-marked muffin tops, hairy butt cracks, and the center tips of bra underwires – but maybe that’s for another blog)

  9. Amber Says:

    There’s a girl that works at my office who wears heels to work, then when she gets to her desk, immediately changes to flip flops. She walks around in the flip flops all day at the office, then changes into heels to go home. Frankly, I don’t see the point of even pretending you’re wearing heels. Just come in barefoot, for crying out loud!

  10. Cat-woman Says:

    The trouble is that there are so many really cute, decorated, fancy-looking flip-flops out there, and many woman do not understand the difference bewteen a dressed-up beach sandal and a true dress sandal, such as The Manolo has displayed below this post. A dress sandal may also be inappropriate for work, but that’s because it’s too dressy. A dressed-up flip-flop is still, alas, in the category with cut-off denim shorts that have cute daisies appliqued to them. Cute doesn’t equal Professional.

  11. Top Stylista Says:

    I love flip flops, but they should have a handle with care warning on them. Almost decapitated myself once by tripping over on a badly fitted flip flop!


  12. Zarba Says:

    Why would a parent allow their teenager to wear the flip-flops to a funeral???

    A well-adminstered beating should suffice to make the point.

    It’s a sad commentary on the state of parenthood that someone would be so afraid of offending their little “Britni, y’know, with an ‘i'”, that they would allow their child to be so inappropriately dressed for such a solemn occasion.

    And yes, you may wear the flip flops to your interview. It makes it that much easier for me to weed out the unqualified candidates. I’m amazed that someone would have the temerity to ask “Why?”. BECAUSE IT’S INAPPROPRIATE BUSINESS ATTIRE, STUPID!

  13. International Girl Says:

    I agree flip flops are not appropriate. But almost all of the women in my office in summer wear sandals, usually fairly conservative ones with some heel. Pedicure is a must. Usually they wear pants and a suit jacket. Men don’t wear sandals for the most part. I am amazed at the style convergence we see across this organization of thousands. This is a welcome break from the dreaded knee-high nylons – and a huge evolution from the time I began working, when all open-toed shoes were considered unprofessional going without nylons was unheard of – as were pantsuits for the most part.

  14. Miss Meghan Says:

    thanks Manolo! your comments are spot-on of course! xo Miss Meghan

  15. Talix Says:

    Oh, I wish I worked in the office of the International Girl. Not only do men wear sandals here (while we don’t generally deal with the public we do frequently have vendors and contractors on site), some of them wear flat-out flip-flops. One “gentleman” wears his with his shredded jean cuffs dragging the floor. Quelle horreur!

  16. Miss Janey Says:

    The Manolo is undoubtedly aware of the causal style of the Los Angeles, as reported by the NY Times.


    Why do people delight in being slovenly?

  17. Cat Says:

    I wore flip flops to work for a couple of months last year following a major foot surgery (after the cast came off), because I could not get my feet into any other sort of shoe. Barring such extenuating circumstances, I would never wear flip flops to the office, although I do wear dressier sandals much of the time — partly because I live in Austin, where it’s hot and dress codes are more casual, and partly because of the aforementioned foot issues, which prevent me from wearing most types of closed shoes. And, Zarba, for a job interview? I would not dare to wear flip flops, sandals, or any sort of open-toed or open-heeled shoe. D’Orsay pumps are about as open as I’d go for an interview. People actually wear flip flops to job interviews and funerals? Zounds!

  18. Ronikins Says:

    I have worked as the waitress in the beach shack, and I still had to wear shoes that covered my entire foot. The server must go into a kitchen where there are hot things being dropped….can you imagine the burns one would endure in flip flops? Also, restaurant wear must be slip resistant, something the flip flop definitely is not.

  19. Ninjarina Says:

    I hate flip flops. I was cursed with flat feet so I know first hand that many off the rack flip flops have little to no arch support. It’s not comfortable and it’s not good for your feet, knees, or your lower back. Secondly, I find it’s a California thing (I’ve been here 6 years now) and when I was living in New York City, no one would wear that kind of thing.

    My mother, who grew up in a third world country, gives me an incredulous look and starts scolding me for dressing like a hobo (ditto goes for pajama pants but that’s another story). I mean I work at my parents convenience store and even they won’t let me get away wearing that kind of stuff. There are places where it’s absolutely fine if everyone is as laid back as that as I’ve had a work study job at my university where everyone wears flip flops but it’s an absolute faux pas in the professional world.

  20. deja pseu Says:

    The office of the Deja tried to institute a “no flip flops” policy and the staff rebelled. It seems that the ladies feel this is the only style of sandal available to them any more. And the mens feel that if the ladies can wear the flip flops that they too are entitle to wear the grimy shoes of the beach bum. The Deja cannot wear the flip flops as the gripping of the toes and legs necessary to keep the shoes on the feets (which the makers of the Dr. Scholls used to claim would tone and slim the legs) aggravates a lower back problem. The Deja feels most vehemently that the “LA Casual” thing has gone too far, and that the flip-flops are not appropriate for most of the office environments.

  21. La Petite Acadienne Says:

    Of course the flip-flops aren’t appropriate for the office. I’m wondering, however…I currently own a lovely black leather thong sandal with a 1-inch heel, and a mother-of-pearl embellishment on the strap. Would these fall under the category of flip-flop as pertains to office wear? They are so nice on days when the slingback from the day before has left the back of the heel slightly chafed.

  22. Gina Says:

    Peter Gothgen and all who commented on the SAFETY ISSUES associated with flip-flops:

    Does anybody remember Candie’s? They were briefly worn at my high school (I graduated in 1981). High heels, no heel strap. Just the one piece of leather over your toes, said leather (or genuine imitation leather?) being attached with STAPLES! Not studs. STAPLES! I never understood why girls would wear shoes that were held together with what were obviously STAPLES! There were several PA announcements with promises of detention if this practice continued. “All shoes must either be closed heel or have a heel strap. This is a safety issue!” I would have been scared of falling down the stairs wearing Candie’s at our 2-story Catholic high school. Many girls were plenty mad about Candie’s being forbidden. They had already spent their baby-sitting money on Candie’s and wanted maximum wearing time.

    As I recall, some of the girls wore Candie’s with spandex pants with a tunic-length t-shirt that was pulled up on one side and knotted at the hip. But that violated the “no t-shirts” section of our school dress code, so that fashion ensemble was also abandoned quickly at my school. Spandex pants were such a new thing they weren’t mentioned in our dress code. But that one ensemble was the beginning and end of spandex at my school.

    But I guess Candie’s are still around, aren’t they? I seem to recall some horrible magazine ad for Candie’s with Jenny McCarthy sitting on a toilet with her panties around her knees. Are Candie’s still stapled? (Sorry, I guess I am way off topic here).

  23. B Dubya Says:

    “La Petite Acadienne Says: …I currently own a lovely black leather thong sandal with a 1-inch heel, and a mother-of-pearl embellishment on the strap…”

    Dear Lady, I submit that the mental image of you wearing such a delightful confection for the eyes of the truely appreciative is why the Manolo is the lover of the shoes. As am I, for that matter.

  24. Victor Says:

    Cheers, sir! Though I must say I’ve recently noticed (in Washington DC) more and more young ladies are wearing pumps to work, with heels of all heights. These young ladies look much more professional than those wearing flip-flops!

  25. Ang Says:

    Here Here. As a lawyer I can’t imagine ever even thinking of wearing open toed shoes to work, let alone flip flops! I do love flip flops though for the beach, the locker room, the quick 5 min juant to the store for milk and running down to my car to get something that once again forgot. But that’s it. If you want to wear sandals to work there are much cuter ones. All the wedges this year make my mouth water and I can’t believe that those that have the choice to wear open toed shoes or sandals would pick flip flops over the pretty wedges. That makes me sad.

  26. Sweetie Darling Says:

    Any shoe that makes a “thwap-thwap-thwap” sound as the wearer makes her way down the hall should be off-limit for work. Drives me bonkers!

  27. Gigi Says:

    Poor me. I live in south Florida where you can see flip-flops at funerals, nice shops, concerts, restaurants, weddings and a myriad of religious and social occasions. It is very distressing to see someone in shorts and Not A Real Shoe at a funeral (unless the decedent has just this moment fallen overboard while we are At Sea – then it may be acceptable). Oh, how I long to move north where the non-pedicured foot is hidden inside a closed shoe!

  28. ushie Says:

    Attractive sandals are perfect at work matched with the ocean-blue sweater set and the flowered circle skirt. In summer.

    For commuting safety and comfort, may the Ushie suggest Clarks slides? They cover the toes and so stop the possibility of the stepping-onness, and they are comfortable. Plus, one may move quickly in them.

    The Ushie will not wear rubbery or plasticy shoes. She was talking with someone from the Pentagon who was in there 9/11, and the person told her that those materials melt to the feets of the persons running from the firey blazes. This is so not a good thing.

  29. The Shophound Says:

    The Shophound is very concerned and upset about the continuing proliferation of the rubber flip-flops around the city. We feel strongly that if you wear them in the shower to avoid athlete’s foot and plantar’s warts you do not wear them on the street, even if they are imported from Brazil. Beach, backyard, quick run around the corner to the deli, OK, but walking around the city all day in rubber shower shoes, No. All we can say is Dirty Toes, Yecch.

  30. Anne Says:

    Pardon the link, but I am curious as to the flip flop haters response to these shoes. I was looking to upgrade my Teva flips to some slightly more respectable sandals and these fit my budget and style. Any opinions? I like to think they look a little more professional but then I am a researcher and spend more time than I would ideally like in rubber boots.


  31. Gina Snowdoll Says:

    Flip-flops are evil!

    This menace to society needs to be stamped out.

  32. Anne Says:

    Ok apparently my link was no good. Go figure. But the question still stands? Did I upgrade my flips or are these just as casual?


  33. Alexandra Says:

    I have asked my boss about this. I have been told that wearing flip-flops might just mean I will never be asked to manage the company. This is good, because I don’t want to manage the company (my boss thinks I am supremely qualified to do so, but believes that more than footwear stand between me and the top slot). He has mentioned that because of the noise my choice of footwear makes, he can hear whenever I am walking nearby. This is a good thing for him, because he can run and hide when he hears me coming.

    In some workplaces, the flip-flops, they are not an occupational impediment…

  34. Chloe Says:

    I recently went to dinner in an upscale restaurant. Everyone there dresses either casual or dressy. As I was eating my delicious dinner one person at our table mentioned that the lady at the next table had incrediably dirty feet!!! Here she was, all dressed up with black flip-flops on. As she was sitting there, she lifted her foot off of the flip flop and exposed the bottoms of her feet. We couldn’t get over it!!!!
    I could hardly eat the rest of my dinner. It made me sickl
    So, please, when you go to a restaurant do the rest of us a favor……don’t wear sandals!!!!!

  35. Kathy Says:

    I have to comment on the last letter. I do agree with you on the restaurant thing. I do not think for sanitary reasons restaurant staff should wear sandals or flip-flops or even the customers.
    Used to be some restaurants would not let you in wearing sandals. Even for beauty shop employees it was a no no too wear sandals for sanitary reasons and all.
    Sandals and flip flops should also not be permitted in hospitals, churches or grocery stores. Again it just isn’t sanitary or respectable of other people that do not want to look at dirty feet or feel that they may catch something.
    I love sandals but wear them where they are supposed to be…at the park….at the beach and at home.

  36. GW Says:

    I am suprised offices allow the wearing of any open-toed shoe in the workplace. It’s a hazzard no matter what kind of work you do. Something could drop on your foot, or someone could step on your toe, and do some major damage. If the company’s or school’s insurance holder heard about this lax dress-code, they would have a bird! Talk about liability!

  37. Spunki Gurl Says:

    Geez some of you people really need to get a life. I can see no flipflops if you work in a steel mill or a construction site but geez an office? Come on. I have worked in offices and the heaviest thing there usually a telephone or computer is wired to the floor. I would have to really be making a deliberate effort to drop it on my toes while wearing flip-flops assuming I can even lift it.

    Furthermore those of you who say the sound of someone’s sandals annoy you Trust me I’m sure you do plenty of stuff that annoys your coworkers too such as smoking those cheap stinkweed cigars in front of the door and blowing that acrid smoke in front of everyone or slurping your coffee in the lunchroom. Hey can you slurp louder? I don’t think Germany heard you. Oh and one more thing contrary to what your buddies on the ESPN message board told you, Talking about how tight your fantasy footall lineup is won’t get you a date with that hot new receptionist, Acne boy.

  38. Tim Says:

    I think women wearing sandals to work is sexy!

  39. Manager Man Says:

    Comment for Spunki Gurl. Sweetheart, I don’t want to see your ugly feet, or anyone else’s either, at my office. As for safety, during a fire situation, with everyone evacuating, one flip-flop clad moron tripping creates a pile up at the exit, which could endanger lives.

    What the young (in general) need to learn is that some things just aren’t appropriate in a professional environment. I’ll stress the penultimate word in the previous sentence: PROFESSIONAL. The 80s had that silly Cybill Shepherd “sneakers to work” look that resulted in women wearing them all day. That was banned before guys could get in on the act. Oh, and guys in sandals? Lame.

  40. Ms. Fab Says:

    I totally agree with Manager Man. NO one going to work should wear flip-flops or any kind of sandal. It is very unprofessional. I work in a law office that even requires that the women wear hosery. And that is ok. It looks polished and ladylike and sexier than ole plain-legged wearers.
    I also have to agree that restaurants should go back to having dress codes too! Naked feet have a trillion germs because they are the closest to the ground. Dah.!

  41. booboo kitty Says:

    Spunki Girl, so you think because their is nothing heavy you can’t get a foot injured. HOW WRONG YOU ARE! My previous wife wore those vile things to work in an office, well guess what, she broke two toes when a SMALL STAPLER fell on her foot, and lo and behold, who had to pay the medical bills SHE DID! Workman’s comp WILL NOT pay for any injury if you are wearing open toed shoes of any kind, including sandals and flip flops! So keep wearing them, sooner or later you will do somethiing that will cause you to be out of work and YOU WON’T GET WORKERS COMP because they ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT PAY for STUPIDITY. You will have to pay all medical costs for your injuries.

    Anyone that would wear open toed shoes, sandals or flip flops to work is just asking for trouble! BTW: they also in many instances won’t pay if the shoe is BACKLESS either, the shoe must be solid and/or have a strap or back to it.

    My former wife learned this the hard way.

    Personally if I ran an office, flip flops, sandals, open toes shoes of any kind would not be permitted period. They are unsafe and a potential hazard to the wearer while at work.

    I don’t even think stores of any kind should allow you to shop in these type shoes either!

  42. Lakeesha Besemer Says:

    Why is it that your content jogs my memory of another matching one which Someone said some other place?

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