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Suburban Island

Sandals - A Fashion Statement
Wednesday, Aug. 06, 2003, 1:38 p.m.

QUESTION: Do you flip-flop?

WHAT I LEARNED: It's okay to like sparkly things.

I admit it - I love shoes. I don't have thousands of pairs in boxes sorted by style in my closet or any thing but I do have to stay out of shoe stores to maintain a positive bank account balance.

It's not just shoes though but sandals that I really love lately. No, not the dour Birkenstocks, but the lovely sparkly, brightly colored sandals that are featured in every shoe store window and dangle like glittering jewels from racks at the Targets and Wal-Marts that dot the landscape. Those are the shoes that capture my imagination and tap-dance around in my head when I start thinking shoes.

Oh yes, we must have work shoes and those must be sensible and basic - as in black shoes are good shoes. I wear black sandals to work - in some form or another - until the leaves cover the ground and my feet are just too cold to resist getting stuffed into winter footwear. But all winter long my feet are calling out for summer and sandals.

My daughter is hardier than her mother. She wears sandals all winter long. Not the kind I wear, which are flat and unabashedly gaudy, but impressive platform sandals that make your ankles hurt just to look at them.

It drives me nuts when I see her slipping on said sandals in December but I do understand the comfort factor of a favorite pair of sandals, the toe appeal, and of course the wonderful freedom they provide to just toss them off with a flip of the foot and get comfortable.

This year has been a particularly good summer shoe year for me because this year I found that I was suddenly able to wear flip-flops. I have never been able to wear shoes that required me to have a portion of the shoe wedged between my toes but for some reason all that has changes and I am free - free to flip-flop my way through summer.

And flip-flop my way through summer I have now that I have discovered my new ability to tolerate this form of inexpensive yet addictively charming footwear. I have purchased a number of glorious new glittery, sparkly, summery flip-flops - and dressier flip-flops that shoe manufacturers delight in calling thongs - in the last few months. I wear them every day and as I choose my pair of the moment - yellow to match the little flowers appliquéd onto my denim capris, the red ones with the polka-dot soles, the orange ones that make my feet look exotic, or perhaps basic sparkly beaded black ones that go with anything – I am aware of the goofy smile that is spreading across my face. Flip-flop happy at last. My head is swimming and the pile of garden-variety and glorified flip-flops continue to grow.

However, the stores are starting to think about the winter months already and the supply of irresistible summer shoes is dwindling as the Halloween costumes are displayed and the remaining stock is getting snapped up at bargain prices before you can park your car in the Target parking lot. I console myself with the fact that there's always next year and flip-flops are forever so my current collection will still be perfectly fashionable when the first warm day of spring appears next year.

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