Surprisingly Hard to Get Right: The Basic Flip-Flop


I love flip-flops.  If the weather in Denver would fully cooperate, I would wear them year-round.  The flip-flop, is, in my opinion, the perfect shoe.  And the absolute perfect shoe for moms.  It's comfortable,walkable, playground and pool friendly, it's easy to slip on and off, and when chosen correctly, it looks just as good with a pair of workout pants as it does with a dress.  Seriously.  The Holy Grail of shoe, if ever one did exist.

Ain't No Mom Jeans produced the Hopscotch Hustle, a mom and baby fashion show, last Sunday (pics and more info coming).  Since we were attempting to create gorgeous, yet mom-friendly outfits, we told our mom models to bring a "cute pair of flip-flops" to their fittings.  We ended up seeing roughly 30 pairs of…very interesting flip-flops.  So I did a bit of research…and it turns out that there are only a few pairs of cute flip-flops on the market.  There are tons of gorgeous, uncomfortable sandals attempting to market themselves as flip-flops and there are tons of tacky-yet-sooooo-comfortable flip-flop choices, but only a few pairs that manage to blend the cute and comfort factor correctly. 

So when we at Ain't No Mom Jeans say to "throw this little number on with a pair of flip-flops"…exactly what kind of flip-flops are we talking about?  Let's discuss:

Beware the Sport-Flop

  1113146-p-DETAILED Teva makes a really cute Olowahoo sport flip-flop (pictured at left).  I like it, I do.  However, this is not the "throw on with anything" flip-flop that we've been talking about.  This kind of flip-flop should be saved for….well, something sporty.  I don't love these with dresses.  I object less to the Olowahoo in a solid color, and the Olowahoo style of sport-flop is waaaay better than these: 9755-535312-d

The fairly horrifying pair on the right is Teva's Ultimate Flip-Flop.  I really can't come up with any reason or activity where the Ultimate would be warranted.   No matter the price, no matter the rationalization (Mom – I'm talking to you….these are not even ok as "lake shoes")….we can do so much better.  If for some reason you are waaay into a sport that requires a super-comfortable shoe with no foot protection that will fall off your foot at moderate speeds…even then, stick with the Olowahoos.    

Beware Patterns

Critter Chances are, if your flip-flop has a pattern, even a small one, it will end up looking more casual or sporty than a solid color.   To really find a flip-flop that can be worn for all occasions, a solid color is the way to go. 

Furthermore, if your pattern is something that one could claim is ironic, like J.Crew's ridiculous lobster flop…..chances are that most of us missed the irony.  I rarely hate…but I do hate these flip-flops.  I put them in the same category as the old lady sweaters with kittens on them.  <shudder>

Beware the Wide Band

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Both Reef flip-flops above are cute.  The Sandy flop with the wider band however, comes off looking a bit young and sporty, while the Ginger flop with the thinner band looks much more sophisticated.  Go with the thin band every time.

Beware Leather

Metallicflops While these leather flip-flops from J.Crew are gorgeous, taking even two steps while wearing makes me want to scream in pain.  The whole point of finding a cute flip-flop is the comfort factor.  So many leather flip-flop or thong options have a hard, stiff footbed, and the leather rubs against the skin of your foot.  Totally not worth it. Yhst-53481534060974_2099_137357500

In addition, many companies are coming out with strange leather / flip-flop hybrids, like the one pictured at right.  I don't love these shoes.  I think the point was to make an "upscale" flip-flop that can be worn with dresses, etc….but if you choose the right flip-flop you can do this just as easily without going into this strange leather sandal territory.  These shoes strike me as a bit old. 

Beware the Super-Thick Sole

Dorky Super – thick soles just end up looking clunky.  And if J. Crew's Grosgain Wedge Flip-Flops are any measure, the thick sole hardly equates to comfort.  These flip-flops are some of the hardest I've tried.   

It's amazing to me that a brand capable of making such gorgeous clothes can bomb so totally on the flip-flop front.  Especially when so many of their clothes (including bridesmaid dresses!!) are made to be worn with flip-flops.  Can't win 'em all, I guess.

And Finally….The Best Flip-Flops

So where does that leave us?  Ideally, you want a flip-flop that meets the following criteria:

  1. Insanely comfortable
  2. Washable
  3. Solid color
  4. Has a thin band

Here are my favorite flip-flops picks for moms:

  HavaianasWomens-Havaianas40000302719356_medium_PRODUCT_ANGLE_23239 On522932-02qlv01

Above left are Haviaina's Slim Flip-Flops in Light Golden, $24.00.  Haviainas are the gold standard by which to compare all other flip-flops.  The colors are all gorgeous, the footbed is comfortable, and if you don't mind a plastic upper, these flip-flops are perfect.

Another great option are Old Navy's Flip-Flops.  They have a staggering amount of colors and are seriously selling these things for $5 for TWO pair.  2 for $5.  Seriously.

Unfortunately, I have insanely sensitive skin, and can't wear flip-flops with a plastic upper.  If you also prefer a fabric flip-flop, here are my favorites:

1660_brown-brown _6088457 Mella-shoes-Velvet-(Chocolate)-010401
Above left is Reef's Ginger Flip-Flop, $21.95.  The color selection isn't great (they do too many patterns), but they do have solid black, brown and white.  I buy a pair of brown and a pair of black ones every summer. 

Pictured above, middle, are Rainbow's Narrow Strap Sandal in gray, $44.95.  These sandals feel a bit hard at first, but your foot is supposed to get worn into special memory foam, which will end up cradling your foot.  These shoes come in black, gray, brown, and tan.

Lastly, are Mella's Velvet Flip-Flops, $29.95.  Mella used to make a ton of these flip-flops in terrycloth, as well as the velvet, in a ton of different colors…but there is just a small smattering left.  Is Mella closing up shop? Their website is down.  Sigh.  We're running out of cute and comfy flip-flop options!

Finally, for those of you curious about color…I think the most versatile solid colors are either metallics or neutrals:  black, brown, navy, gray, white, tan, silver, gold, etc. 

That's it!  Did I miss any of your favorites?  There are so few pairs that made the final cut, I'm hoping that I missed some.  Please leave me a comment if you find another pair that meets all of the criteria, especially if it has a fabric upper!

Happy Floppin'…




  1. Favorite. Post. Ever. Finally something I’m doing right! 🙂
    Can’t live without my Reef Ginger’s or my basic Havianas.
    Thankfully, in California we can get away with wearing them *almost* all year long.

  2. Sophisticated flip flops? I think not. They are not only unimaginative but bad for your feet. Going back to the useful posts on scarves and tall boots and pretending I never read this. Le sigh.

  3. Tegan – I couldn’t live without my Ginger flops either! And I’m drooling over the Havianas…just wish I could wear them…I might actually give them another try. I love the gold.
    Seanna — I’m curious: what do you wear in the summer when you are running around all day with the kiddo?

  4. Your Mom is LOL because sbe was looking at a pair very similar to those because the flip flop had a bit of a heel. What can you suggest for your mother who would really appreciate a little boost from her shoes and/or flip flops?

  5. Being a Southern girl we wear flip flops in blizzards. And believe me I’ve done it. We do everything in flip flops.
    The Haviana are going to kill a moms back if she even wears them for a day. Also, the sole of them will wear down pretty fast and they become the type of flip flops that you should only wear in the garden. Not out running errands. unless of course you can make sure your feet are clean each time you wear them.
    Thin is not always going to win out over the thick strap. Pattern is not always a bad thing. And in fact Teva makes plain black ones that don’t look sporty at all and are pretty comfortable. I just saw them at REI a few weeks ago and bought three pairs in my size in just black b/c I didn’t want to lose out.
    When buying flip flops you have to also make sure that they have some type of grip on the bottom. You don’t want to slide across the grocery aisle in them.
    The Ginger flop I actually didn’t see yet. So maybe I would like. The Old Navy 2 for $5 really? Really Shana? Really? LOL There is a reason they are $5 for 2. they are cheap and fall to pieces pretty fast. And again horrible back issues.
    Thick flops are okay. But, not the ones that have heels. Ewwww
    And never ever is there a good reason for anyone to wear white flip flops. I draw the line.
    I just reorganized my closet of shoes and have one huge bin of flip flops for the summer to wear. On last count I was up to 35 pairs and all but three are new this year. I am a flip flop aholic. And proud of it. LOL

  6. Totally agree with everything here.
    Except the crazy prejudice against the “critter” flip. You, my dear S, are obviously not from the South. I will NEVER give up my ribbon whale flips. Yes, you have to style them simply—jeans and a crisp tee or polo, or a simple jersey sundress. But there’s a reason why JCrew and Vineyard Vines still sell a gazillion pairsevery summer. Totally classic preppy. I stand by them. (I have whales, hippos, and turtles!)

  7. Amy — I am cracking up!!! You are so right: I’m not from the South! And, as such, I often find myself confused when first faced with Southern gal style. Case in point: monograms. Why are they so popular? Why must everything have one? Although, monograms are growing on me. I once monogrammed one of my cardis to wear to a friend’s b-day party as a joke (she’s from the South)…and I now love that sweater. Of course, being a Northerner, I wear it with destroyed jeans and cage heels, but still. Wait!! Are you gals the reason J.Crew also sells “critter chinos” every year? OMG. 🙂

  8. BTW – I love all of the flip-flop passion. Girls after my own heart. 🙂
    Nicole – I’m interested in your Teva find. Do you have a link or style name handy?
    M – The leather is soft? Anything too hard rubs funny between my toes. And you wouldn’t wear them with a dress? I think they are cute enough for sundresses…good pick!

  9. S – Monograms are awesome. Case closed. (That said, I don’t understand the need to have them everywhere. For me, they are best served on things like linens, hand mirrors, and yes, the occasional cardigan. And I’d style my mono cardi the same way as you!) And I’m not gonna lie – I have a couple of JCrew critter chino skirts in my closet too! Same simplicity rules as the flips: style with a simple crisp tee and PLAIN flips. Never double critter…

  10. S – I must say I LOVE my Chaco’s. They have great support for high arches and I just throw them in the wash every week. Are they considered horrible, sporty, wide band flops? (similiar to what I have)
    I have to say with my high arches, I can’t wear many flops because I need so much support in them. I would love to check out M’s Clarks. Those would probably be comfy too.
    LOVE this post. Thanks!

  11. Sara – the first pair, in plain black, aren’t bad…but the second pair are PERFECT! And they have arch support??? Hmmmm….may need to try them myself. xo

  12. Another vote for M’s Clark’s – I am on my 3rd pair and I love them. I have high arches and regular flip flops hurt my feet, but I agree they are too clunky to wear with dresses.

  13. have to disagree about old navy flips wearing out fast .. or maybe i just don’t wear mine as often, as i rotate them with other sandals. but i’m on year 2 of a black pair that still look nearly new.
    i much prefer the look of my pewter havianas but they are just not as comfortable – despite what everyone says, the post feels harsher to my toes. i wear them around the house but can’t wear them out for lunch. bummer.

  14. Just found your site. LOVE. Have to chime in even though this post is old. As a southern California mama I live in my flip flops…literally wear them probably 75% of the time. The haviannas are the only way to go (they are on almost every mama at the playground). Cute, simple, really do look great with almost everything. I’ve been wearing the same pair for 2 years and they’re still going strong (and, again, they get a ton of wear)!!

    • Haviannna’s are the best! I totally agree and live in my flip flops too. Just about every mom on the playground does have them on and I’m the mom chasing my kids in one flip flop LOL!

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