Miss-Lou flips over fashion craze

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Flip-flops, flats, sandals, thongs, shower shoes, beach shoes, house shoes, slippers; there are many names for this popular staple in American fashion.

The flip-flop’s beginnings can be traced back to about five million years ago, Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia says. The earliest examples have been found in Japan, Africa and India, where the flip-flop has stayed popular to this day. The flip-flop made its first appearance en mass when the hippie craze engulfed America. The nation has embraced the trend ever since. Now, the popular kicks can be found in almost any store you walk in, from Old Navy to Neiman Marcus.

The flip-flop is a versatile shoe, with prices ranging from $2 to $400. Flip-flops have long left their humble beginnings as a simple, classic summer shoe and started a new era of cocktail inspired heels that are often adorned with crystals and jewels. New designers, such as Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs have easily created their own variation of the flip-flop, even more traditional designers like Prada, Fendi and Gucci have all adopted the flip-flop into their spring and summer collections.

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Not only has the flip-flop transcended its humble beginnings, it has transcended gender. Flip-flops are not just pink and frilly anymore, they are made with leather and hide to appear as tough as the men who wear them.

“My clothes reflect my lifestyle and my personality in a way,” college sophomore Wesley Davis said. “While my wrinkled shirt says I sleep on a pile of unfolded laundry instead of sheets, my flip-flops make their own statement — laid back and lazy.”

Sisters Jessica Marchbanks and Lori Beth Edwards said they enjoy their own flip-flops, as well as each others.

“Every day I wear a different pair or borrow someone’s,” Edwards said. “Jessica and I always share.”

Flip-flops are not only fashionable, they are practical. In a hurry or just out of ease, it’s never a pain to slip on a pair of flops.

“They are incredibly practical, they go with everything, and if they get wet it won’t hurt them,” Edwards said.

Davis agrees.

“I am ridiculously lazy, I don’t do anything else at college, so how can you expect me to struggle with socks and tie shoelaces?” Davis said.

Practicality is only half of the equation. As the decades have progressed, so have the styles. Flip-flops can be found at work, at cocktail parties and even weddings.

“Flip-flops can be worn at dressier occasions, but they have to be appropriate,” Edwards said. “They have to have a little heel or sparkle.”

Flip-flops are also made for other activities. Northface and Teva flip-flops are for recreation. They have specialized soles and design in order to properly drain water. Other brands allow for more stability for gardening and cleaning.

“I have some I only wear in the yard, and I have some that never need to be worn in the yard,” Edwards said.

Flip-flops have become such a large part of everyday life, people have modified routines and behaviors.

“I wear flip-flops in the rain and in below freezing temperatures,” Davis said. “I’ve even learned to sprint in flip-flops.”

Edwards has her special way of celebrating her flip-flops as well.

“I buy flip-flops to show off my pedicures,” she said.