It’s summer time, and they’re back. Flip-flops. You know — the shoe that we now refer to as the slide. Maybe it never went away. It simply went into hibernation for the winter.
If you aren’t sure to what I am referring, it’s that semi-shoe with nothing to hold it to your foot or your foot to it except a little piece of material across or between your toes. In any case, flip-flops or slides are one of the hottest trends in summer fashion footwear.
If you are wondering when the first shoe of this type appeared, I did a little research and discovered that sandals — which is frankly what we are talking about — came into existence around 2000 B.C. So for those of you who think this shoe is a 21st century creation, think again.
It began as a basic item to protect the soles of the feet. A simple strap between the toes made it easy to wear. In recent years this utilitarian footwear has been recognized as a beach shoe or a shower shoe. That’s right, a shower shoe.
So how did the shower shoe become the most popular footwear of the season? One of the morning television news shows recently did a feature story on flip-flops. Several of the reporters were actually touting this as the shoe to wear to work.
Fortunately for the business viewers, one of the news anchors, a well-dressed man in a suit and tie, expressed his dismay at the thought of these thongs showing up at the office.
Flip-flops, or slides, come in every fabric and heel-height imaginable. Once an inexpensive plastic shoe with a flat sole, they are now available in a variety of man-made and natural materials — in low to high heels, in every color and design you can conceive of and with prices ranging from $5 to $500. No, that is not a typo.
Flip-flops have become versatile, but once again people are confusing the latest fashion with business attire. Flip-flops and their sandal or slide cousins are not business professional footwear.
It is not simply a matter of appearance — whether these shoes look professional — it is also a matter of safety. Any shoe that has an open toe, strapless heel or both can create peril in the workplace.
In addition these semi-shoes are a noise nuisance. Try walking into a meeting late with each slap of your heel announcing your arrival.
Before you slip into your cool new slides for which you may have paid a small fortune, think about where you work. Are these shoes suitable for your work environment? Are they safe?
As far as flip-flops are concerned, don’t even consider wearing them to your job unless you are a lifeguard. Not only are they casual to the extreme, but they are also sending the message that you don’t take your professional appearance seriously.
Gwen DeWalt of Four Seasons Travel came up with a simple rule to help her staff decide whether their sandals, slides or flip-flops were appropriate for the office. Her guideline is “if it is designed for or can be worn on the beach, it is not appropriate for the office.”
I think she nailed it.
Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, professional speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-598-9812 or visit her at LydiaRamsey.com to leave a comment, ask a question or learn more about her programs.