Our Ultimate Guide to the Flip-flop

As the weather hots up, and suitcases get packed for some summer escapes, it’s important to pick the right shoe to pack in your valuable luggage space. Naturally if you are heading to any sunny beach or pool location then you are going to want sandals, and in all likelihood that sandal is going to be a flip-flop.

But how did flip-flops become such a style staple? Why are they so popular and who made the first flip-flop? From ancient Egypt to our own refined and understated Palmer Flip-flop, let us explore the expansive history of these sandals, in our ultimate guide to the flip-flop.

What are the key features of a Flip-flop

The flip-flop is a type of sandal, consisting of a simple flat sole, and a single y-shaped strap or ‘toe thong’ which anchors into the sole between the big two and second toe. The strap then passes around the sides of the foot before passing back into the sole. The forward motion of the foot then keeps the sole loosely fastened to the base of the foot. This loose fastening results in the ‘flip-flop’ noise created when walking which popularised their name in Britain and American English in the 1960’s.

Its simplicity means that it is favoured by all genders, with only the detailing and size defining who the target market is for that particular sandal. They are also incredibly lightweight and great for packing up for your holidays. 

A display case in a museum with ancient Flip-flops

A (Brief) History of the Flip-flop

Evidence of the wearing of ‘thonged’ sandals has been found dating back thousands of years. Images have been found in murals from ancient Egypt in 4,000 BC and a pair dated at 1500 years old were discovered in Europe. These early crude flip-flops were made all over the world from all sorts of materials. Mexican natives used Yucca whilst Chinese and Japanese sandals were woven from rice straw. Rawhide was used by the Maasai tribe of Kenya and Northern Tanzania whilst wood was the material of choice in India. 

The shape of the modern flip-flop was actually popularised by American soldiers who returned from active duty in Japan in World War II. Following the end of the Korean War its popularity increased and so did the range of colours available. By the 1960s flip-flops had become associated with the surf culture of California and synonymous with beach wear.

Causal, comfortable and convenient, the modern flip-flop is the inexpensive answer. It may not be the best footwear for a hike or longer trips, but it will give protection from hot sand or tarmac. It also spares your foot any contact with moisture-borne fungus or infections in poolside changing rooms without having to fiddle with fastenings or stress about them getting soaked. 

They really are the perfect footwear for the beach or the pool.

How to style your Flip-flops

The Palmer Flip-flop sandal, from London Brogues, is the smart and comfortable choice for any gentleman enjoying the warmer climates this summer. We haven’t over complicated its classic form, but added our own brogue twist in an understated leather thong and hard wearing sole. Available in two colour ways, black or tan, with a classy pop of colour on the sole these perfect for poolside relaxing or gentle meanders round beach front bars. 

Our black Palmer flip-flops pair great with a statement piece - either a bright floral or Hawaiian print button up shirt, open over a plain t-shirt, with muted chino shorts for the bar, or a louder swim short and light cotton shirt for the beach. For the really bold and fashion forward you could even try rocking them with matching short and shirt set and neutral t shirt. 

Whilst our tan flip-flop works well for that lazy surfer vibe, either with a classic cotton Bermuda short and pastel t-shirt or block colour board short and branded tee. 

Finish any look with a matching belt and a pair of sunglasses, or sun hat. Great for protection from the heat and sun, but also a look with accessories always feels more complete and less thrown on then  one without. 

Whatever your casual style, the Palmer flip-flop will pair well for comfort and contemporary style.

View from a cave looking out onto the ocean with a man stood in silhouette

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