This is going to come as a surprise to some of you gentlemen, but you cannot wear the same ratty running shoes to everything. It’s summer now, and you’re going to have to put at least a little bit of (warm and sunny) thought into your footwear.
Weather is a funny thing in that it dictates how you dress, but once the scales tip too far in one direction, all the rules go out the window. If it’s too hot, do you and be comfortable. If it’s too cold, stay in your house/apartment and don’t worry about fashion at all. Now that the trees have leaves on them again, your sartorial choices have shifted with the position of the earth in relation to the sun. Your feet can breathe and be free—if you’re at the beach or the pool, that is.
You might be tempted to rock mandals. I get it. But you shouldn’t do that unless you’re a middle-aged lawyer living in Miami with access to a boat and a lot of gold jewelry. Man sandals are hard to make work. Huaraches are fine, if you’re on vacation somewhere tropical, or at a barbecue trying out a new look. Chances are, you’re not going to mess with mandals, though. But there is a chance you might consider Birkenstocks, the shoe of choice for people who follow Phish around the country. Don’t be one of those people. Run away. Run away fast, and in shoes with better arch support and less cork in the soles. Birks are bad, and should be avoided/burned in dumpster fires. They are prominently displayed in nice department stores like Nordstrom, as if buying a pair of clunky foot-cages is a positive life choice. Birkenstocks are like a well-groomed mustache you wear on your feet. They make a statement, all right, but likely not the one you intend.
Similarly, you might be wooed by the return of Tevas. Yes, Tevas, the summer safety sandal. Opening Ceremony, a New York fashion store that caters to a crowd of fashion bros and fashion lasses, is marketing Tevas as the Next Big Thing, next to chokers and extremely tailored sweatpants. There are only a few people who can pull this kind of style off, though, and if you don’t already know that you can, you probably can’t. There are a select few occasions that call for Tevas, sure. You can wear them if you are in Colorado and going fly fishing, or hiking to a waterfall. You can wear them if you are on a float trip or doing work on your boat dock. You can wear them if you’re a grandpa, or if you’re a dad who has given up.
In fact, if you’re a dad, most sartorial rules don’t apply. Just be a dad. You’re supposed to dress weirdly, and your kids are supposed to give you shit for it. My dad used to wear Keens, another type of water shoe that might be worse than Tevas. He also had mandals, and a pair of all-black basketball shoes that his friend Alan bought him for his 60th birthday. The appropriate response to all of the above is to laugh and move on. Think of a guy, any guy, who has a really good shoe collection: Unless he’s a famous person, he is not a dad. By the way, the rules don’t apply to babies, either. Babies can wear anything, and it’s funny, because hey! That’s a teeny pair of teeny Tevas, and that baby can’t even walk!
I’m not sure this even needs mentioning, but just to cover all the bases, don’t even think about Aqua Socks, which look like they were fashioned from the skins of colorful, blind eels. If you wear Aqua Socks, the thing you are saying to the world is you hold your nose when you jump into water, and if there were ear plugs available at the pool, you’d already be wearing them. Aqua Socks are for dorks.
We should also discuss flip-flops. There are many situations in which it’s appropriate to wear flip-flops. The beach! The pool! The lake! The car! But there are more examples of when it’s not appropriate to wear flip-flops. The office! A wedding! Dinner! Just be selective. If you’re just hanging out, flip-flops are great. For anything else, err on the side of normal shoes. You look frickin’ ridiculous walking into a bank wearing your flip-flops, especially those pairs with the bottle-openers underneath. Mortgage denied, my naked-footed friend.
Basically, most of the times you can and should wear something from genus sandal is when you’re doing something seasonal. You don’t have to use your imagination to figure you’re probably going to be grilling or at the pool at least a few times between now and September. In those very chill times, do what makes you and your feet feel good. Just don’t ever walk into anywhere wearing Tevas and expect to be taken seriously by anyone.
Adequate Man is Deadspin’s new self-improvement blog, dedicated to making you just good enough at everything. Suggestions for future topics are welcome below.
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