Men’s Sandals Versus Flip Flops & Other Styles

Men’s sandals have had a pretty tough time of it in recent years. Menfolk have been wearing sandals as early as 8,000 BC but the past decade or two has seen the style fall out of favour with the public. Men’s sandals, affectionately or begrudgingly known as ‘mandals’, have been routinely slated by fashion publications, celebrities and the general population. But we say no more. Mandals don’t have to be banished to the history books of men’s footwear, we just need a new approach to them.

For the purposes of this article, ‘men’s sandals’ refers to your standard sandal designs. Think Birkenstocks, gladiator sandals, Grecian designs and strappy sandals. We’ll be comparing these to shoes, flip flops, sliders and more in this post. We’ll also look at sandal alternatives if you can’t bring yourself to rock a pair of mandals.

Before we go any further, we need to clear something up. We were curious as to why people have turned on men’s sandals so vociferously. They let your feet breathe, they’re comfy, they’re lightweight, why all the sandal-shaming?

Well, a large part of it is to do with feet. Let’s face it, feet aren’t the nicest things, and if your feet aren’t looking their best after a winter and spring spent cooped up in boots, then you’re probably not alone. So, make sure to give your feet a little bit of TLC if you want to don those sandals.

Give them a bit of a soak, get rid of any rough skin and trim those toenails. Before you go to bed, slather on a bit of moisturiser and let that do its thing while you sleep. You’ll wake up with feet that are ready to face the world!

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Men’s Sandals vs Shoes

First up, men’s sandals versus men's shoes. One of the main issues sandals have is that they’ll never have the sophistication of a proper shoe. Mandals are quite like Pinocchio in that way, they just want to be a real shoe. Well, recent designs are challenging that theory.

Sandals will never be able to match the formality of, for example, brogues or wingtips, but you can definitely achieve classy smart-casual looks with some sandals. Go for a caged design for the perfect mix of summer comfort and sophistication.

If you want a pair of sandals that’s going to match up to a pair of shoes, you’re going to have to spend a bit more for those fancier designs. The first pair of five-pound flip flops that you see simply won’t cut it.

If it’s a smart-casual affair, you can easily pull it off with a pair of good sandals. Boat shoes, men’s loafers and slip-on trainers are all strong shoes for garden party affairs. But they can be easily replaced by a pair of mandals.

A good tip is to wear some trousers with your sandals. Some dark skinny jeans, a shirt and a quality pair of sandals is a very strong look. Black sandals will match the dark jeans nicely and it’s not done often so you’ll stand out and turn some heads. Remember though, if you don’t look after your feet, you’ll turn heads and they’ll quickly turn back away in disgust. Don’t let it be you!

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Sandals Vs Flip Flops

Round 2. The mighty sandal takes on the humble men’s flip flop. Not that we don’t like them, – flip flops will never stop being our friends – but as shoes go, they’re really not for everyday wear.

Flip flops are not appropriate streetwear. They’re not the casual component of a smart-casual outfit. They really shouldn’t be seen anywhere other than the beach. Flip flops are a handy, convenient shoe to have. Wear them round the house, wear them at the beach, wear them to nip to the shops (if you must) but other than that, leave them at home.

We don’t have a flip flop prejudice; this is for medical reasons. As great as flip flops are for chilling out at the beach or at home, they don’t provide the support your feet need. Walking extensively in flip flops can cause feet problems, back pain, shin splints and can strain your Achilles’ tendon.

Also, if you’re walking in the streets with a pair of flip-flops, your feet are seriously exposed to whatever’s on the floor. A pair of strappy sandals offer more protection from dirt and germs and provide that all-important arch support.

If you were considering wearing flip flops, we can assure you that a pair of sandals would look just as good, if not better and will protect your feet. Again, we’re not saying you should never wear flip flops. Just that there’s a time and a place.

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Sandals Vs Sliders

Coming into Round 3, the mandal has held its own against the mighty all-encompassing shoe and made light work of the slovenly flip flop. Its next opponent is the slide. If you think this is going to go the same way as the last round, you’re mistaken. Sliders have now become ‘Flip Flops 2.0’.

Even though their design is very similar to flip flops, sliders have become street appropriate. One of the main reasons for this is that they cover more of your feet than flip flops. More proof this war isn’t against men’s sandals, it’s against men’s feet.

Sliders cover your feet, they don’t slap on the floor and in most cases, provide more support than flip flops. They also have earned the merit of being one of the only types of sandal where it’s generally acceptable to wear them with socks. Socks and sliders are being donned by famous rappers, celebrities and the ultimate man himself: David Beckham. If Becks has worn it, it’s allowed.

Sliders are for casual looks. Where flip flops are your ‘I threw these on because they were next to the door and I had to go get some milk’ shoe, the slide is more than that. It says that you’re being casual but that you have put a little bit of thought into it.

Don’t be afraid to pair sliders with jeans either. Designs have varied greatly from the ‘shower shoe’ type sliders you get at your local sports shop and there is plenty of scope to wear them with jeans and to dress them up a bit.

Whilst sliders can be dressed up, mandals definitely give off a more sophisticated look. If you’re headed to a barbecue with a group of close mates, time to break out the sliders. If it’s a slightly classier affair, don some sandals.

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Men's Sandals Alternatives

Three tough rounds for sandals. What do you think? Have we given you any confidence that men’s sandals aren’t the worst? Do you have faith that they will rise again? If you’re not so sure or are unwilling to get a pedicure, we’ve got some alternatives to sandals that aren’t quite as stuffy as shoes or as divisive as mandals.

Espadrilles technically fall into the category of sandals and are a fantastic type of shoe that every man should own come summer. They have the best qualities of sandals and the best qualities of shoes. They’re lightweight, they let your feet breathe and they also hide those trotters. A pair of white espadrilles are a good go-to shoe. Just try and keep them clean. Our advice is to avoid garish, noisy prints and go for neutral tones instead.

Next up, woven slip-ons. You can get loafers, lace ups and slip-ons that look just like a nice, classy pair of shoes but because they’re woven, ventilate your feet. These are like mandals in disguise. If your family would disown you for wearing mandals, walk on the wild side with some woven shoes. You’ll be getting the best of both worlds.

If you, on principle, will not wear a pair of man’s sandals but are desperate for a way to emulate their best qualities, some shoes do come close. Loafers and boat shoes namely. They’re classy, welcome in most situations and give your feet a bit more freedom than other shoes. Some bright loafers are good for the summer, but boat shoes are a summer-exclusive shoe. If you’re wearing boat shoes in December, then you have failed to grasp the very concept of boat shoes! Come summer though and there’s no questions asked. There’s also the added bonus that people might think you’re on your way to a regatta. Bonus sophistication points.

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Conclusion

All is not lost for men’s sandals. The mandal has taken on three worthy adversaries here and lives to tell the tale. The main thing to take away from this is that sandals aren’t the problem. It’s your feet. Not you personally, but men in general. You cut your fingernails and wash your hands, don’t you? Do the same for your feet! If we clean up our act, by cleaning our feet, we can start making steps towards wearing sandals with no fear of judgement.

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The mighty men’s sandal is just the shoe you need this summer, and we’ve got loads to choose from!

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