If you were a kid in the late '90s or early aughts, I’m sure you experienced the wrath that was the platform flip-flop. If your ankle doesn’t twinge in phantom pain at the mere thought of those shoes, let me explain the phenomenon.
Generally featuring a generous four-inch stiletto heel (or, sometimes, a three-inch wedge), these plagues upon humanity rely on very little to affix your foot to the actual footbed: two leather (or rubber) straps that converge at the rather sensitive midpoint between your big toe and your second toe. In the late 90s, the look was favored by celebs and tweens alike, and could be spotted tromping around suburban Wet Seal stores and cozying up to low-rise cargo pants and sparkly toe rings.
Indeed, those exact shoes are, once again, ubiquitous. Sigerson Morrison offers a neon pair on sale for $40, parading them as the much more refined “Jeweled Sandal.” Indie darling By Far serves up a “cool girl” version with lizard-effect leather and a sculptural heel (for $410, no less). Swedish fashion blogger-turned-designer Elin Kling delivers her neutral-washed take on the trend with Toteme’s square-toe iteration ($400). Stuart Weitzman offers theirs with a block heel ($350), while even the refined Gianvito Rossi has hopped on the trend with a touch of PVC ($645).
No matter where you shop, it’s practically impossible to dodge this guy. And while I will grudgingly admit that there’s a distinct purpose for rubber flip-flops (go ahead, rock them at the beach, the pool, the gym shower and even to get a pedicure), I have to draw the line at this uncomfortable and distinctly unflattering style.
Should you need a barely-there dress shoe for an upcoming wedding, let me point you in the direction of thin-strap stilettos (there are plenty in Song of Style's inaugural footwear collection). If you’d really like to show off your new manicure, might we suggest a basic pair of simple designer slides (perhaps even ones with a slight heel)?
Sure, the heeled flip-flop looks just OK (notice, I didn’t say good) on the right kind of woman. She’s the type who wears white 95 percent of the time and somehow never seems to spill. She’s also probably an Instagram star who has amassed a perfectly proportioned wardrobe of immaculately tailored separates that cost around $1,500 each, perfectly accented with equally pricey accessories that fall into the trendy-but-not-too-trendy category. Basically, that would be the aforementioned Kling and the practically perfect Dane blogger, Pernille Teisbaek.
But for the rest of us, those who are prone to coffee stains, a dribble of salad dressing down the front of a blouse and any type of red wine fiasco, these dressy flip-flops are best left where they belong: in the ‘90s.