People love themselves some summer. My own relationship with summer is conflicted. What I don’t like about summer is that summer brings out man sandals, and I have a big problem with man sandals (“mandals”).
I realize it’s unfair to disparage an entire seasonal category of footwear. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I have NEVER seen a pair of men’s sandals that I felt good about.
Tom wears mandals. I have a job and two sons and I can’t monitor Tom all the time. But he doesn’t wear them in public, and he doesn’t wear them when he’s with me. It’s in my marriage contract, look it up. Although he wears them, when I asked Tom to model some of his sandals, he threw a sh*tfit of such epic proportions that I was frankly taken aback. And some of the friends who own the feet in this post allowed me to use their photos on the condition that their identities are kept anonymous. Which all leads me to the conclusion that deep down, men know that man sandals are wrong.
Acceptance is always the first step to recovery. Below, some of the most popular mandals.
Are you David Beckham? Wait, back up. Are you David Beckham, and stepping out of a shower at this very moment? If so, my number is 503-YOU-FINE; call me. If you are not David Beckham stepping out of a shower and you are wearing these to do anything other than the recycling, what the hell are you doing? These slides were really big when I was in middle school, when the popular kids wore them to class with tube socks. I have, like, two fond memories of middle school, and the fact that I was not popular, and hence never did that, is one of them. As an aside, I admit that the feet above belong to people in my family, but the smaller feet came home from school with the socks. You can be damn sure that they did not leave my house with them.
2. Fisherman sandals
When I see these on a grown man, my soul cries. For some reason, these are popular with many of my lawyer friends, like Doug (above) and Ben (below), who are both totally boss because each allowed me to use a photo of him wearing fisherman sandals that includes his face. Anyway, they may be popular with professionals because they seem like a more serious man sandal option. And they are serious alright, in the sense that religion is serious, and the only grown man in the history of time who has pulled these off is Jesus. The irony in professionals gravitating towards the fisherman sandal is that this type of mandal makes men look especially infantile, because they are essentially a modified version of these. It pains me to write this, because I have friends reading this post right now while wearing fisherman sandals. You know who you are. I know who you are. And it’s going to be ok.
I hate Keens. I HATE THEM. Keen makes some cute sneakers, but their bread and butter is this monstrosity, which is like the unwanted bastard offspring of a trail sneaker and an Aquasock. If you have a boy child between the ages of 2 and 12 and you have tried to buy a cute summer shoe only to be confronted with these Keens in twelve different colors as your only options, I sympathize. They have overtaken the market and I consider it National Priority No. 1 that they be stopped.
The thing that I don’t get about Keens functionally is that they cover so much of the foot that you lose the point of wearing sandals, which is to keep your feet aired out. Anyone who has smelled their child’s Keens after a day of wear knows that there is absolutely no airing out going on whatsoever. So, why do these shoes continue to exist? I’m hoping that someone will educate me in the comments; I am all ears.
What can I say about Crocs that hasn’t already been said? I can say that I find them cute on children, but that could be the Stockholm syndrome talking. I can also tell a story, about the time that Tom went on a man trip with some men with guns. Beer, cigars, and poker were had. The next morning, Tom woke up to find pieces of his orange Crocs strewn across the property, because someone had shot them up after he fell asleep. To that anonymous man, I say: well done, sir.
Crocs also bring me to a point that should have been made up front. And that is this: in general, your chances of pulling off a pair of mandals depends in great part on how attractive you and your feet are. I am sorry to put it out there like that, but there it is. It helps if your feet are tan, for starters. Tom’s feet are so pale that in the wrong light, they look blue. He also has toes that are better described as, well, knuckles. Suffice it to say that Tom is better off keeping his dogs covered. But sometimes, it just doesn’t matter how hot you are. My friend Eric (below) is very hot. And dare I say that even he isn’t up to the challenge. In that regard, I guess Crocs are the Great Equalizer.
5. Flip flops
I know I’m going to get pushback on this one. I think a pair of cheap rubber flip flops or Reefs is probably acceptable–if you’re hot, 18, or at the beach. I have not met the guy in the picture above, who is a friend of a friend, but clearly he is at the beach, given the sand, and hot, given that he is pulling off flip flops and wearing sideways seersucker.
What I find unacceptable are the flip flops that have thick soles on them, or leather trim, or some other gussied-up detail that is designed to make the flip flop seem street legal. Below, my case in point. The feet below belong to my friend John, whom I adore. But the fact that I adore him makes these mandals no less of an abomination. Tom saw this photo and suggested with a straight face that these shoes would be great for camping, for when you “accidentally kick a tree root.” I grant that these might be ok in that sole instance. Outside of that one circumstance, I can’t think of even one other situation in which these would be acceptable, and that includes fleeing a housefire in the dead of night. Repeat after me: just because someone makes and sells them, doesn’t mean you should buy them.
To conclude: guys, don’t give me any bull about mandals being the only viable summertime option. Sneakers (Chuck Taylor, Jack Purcell, Tretorn, Superga, etc.) are almost always going to look ok, assuming you are capable of wearing them without socks. Toms stay cool and are comfortable, if you don’t mind walking on cardboard. Boat shoes maybe, if you can pull them off, but don’t assume you are a good judge of whether you can pull them off–you have teens in your life for that. Point being, there are options.
I hope you take this post in the spirit in which it was written, which is, in dead seriousness. Happy Monday.