Flip flops are Birkenstocks for people who don't wear Birkenstocks
An unlikely silver bullet solution for late summer outfits
The most enthusiastic recommendation I have this summer is also the least remarkable, which seems to be a prevailing theme among the fashion choices I’ve made lately. If I had to guess, this is in part an instinctively rebellious response to the years and years and years I, personally, spent getting dressed within the framework of the question of how I could adequately convey the peaks of my feelings and intellectual pursuits through my clothes and then more culturally speaking, to the broader Olympic game of outfit outdoing that became synonymous with social media posting in the late 2010’s.
But the latter condition sounds more like normcore — the style movement that came as a more immediate and direct response to fashion week peacocking at the height of Instagram influence (and Phoebe Philo’s career at Celine) — and it’s not really that.
What I’m talking about really is a sort of pursuit of consistency in fashion, a quiet underdoing of the over-the-topness of everything from maximalism and minimalism — two sides of the same coin — to microtrends like cottagecore that have ballooned into self-sustaining businesses in their own right. It’s more like a black-pill approach to getting dressed that rejects trends complet—or, wait, is that what this is?
The more I think about the way I’ve been dressing, the more I realize I’ve been dressing a lot like early 2000’s Jennifer Aniston — going for inconspicuous but effortless, intentionally. Casual pants or frayed-hem shorts, lightweight button-downs or tank tops, plain old flip-flops.
Rubber flip flops, to be clear. Not leather or with a wood sole. They’re more inconsequential that way, even accidental-semming and perhaps this is what makes wearing them seem so luxurious, or free.
There’s something to be said about the shirt or the pants or the shoes you’re wearing not being referential because they’re so damn basic. Basic in a good way! Not being a “cheaper than” version of a trend; not being a cheaper version of anything, in fact, because they just salt-of-the-earth are what they are.
It doesn’t read any specific sort of energy or vibe, but I guess that in itself is a vibe. Less smack you over the head, “Pay attention to me!” trend, more do-what-I-can-to-make-it-as-uninteresting-as-possible-for-a camera-to-want-to-take-my-photo.
But in this way, too, it’s not actually an evasion or dismissal of the concept of a trend, just an interpretation of one that’s already existed. And I would be remiss to leave Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen out of the coverage of this particular hypothesis because, in part, of their rise through the early 2000’s and then the dazzling success they’ve had with The Row, a practical sanctuary for luxury so insouciant, it won’t care at all that I’m about to say, “it may as well be The Gap.”
But I’m starting to lose the plot. I brought you here today to tell you to wear a pair of flip-flops. That if they’re rubber, they’ll do the same thing a pair of Birkstensocks can — make your outfit more chill or dynamic or interesting, be the answer you were looking for when you thought, “What shoes?”
They’ll keep your feet comfortable on a long-distance walk, holding their own as a nontrend, no matter how trendy you manage to make them. And let me tell you —
I can do trendy. I still like trendy!
You may have to open this gigantic e-mail in your browser in order to see and read it to completion.
But on the flip side, they’re a good companion for just jeans and a button-down:
Shorts (underwear) and a polo:
Eclectic beachwear, or ambiguous p.js — however you wanna slice it:
This one is as eclectic, but less ambiguous as far as use case to be sure:
Unconventional office attire:
Does anyone still say attire?
I also like them with a makeshift three-pc suit, in particular when the inner layer is a quilted jacket and the blazer is a shacket.
A rough edge for a delicate dress.
I got this guy on The Outnet many moons ago and wore it to fashion week some other moons later like-a-this:
But back to the flip flops: heeding advice from last week’s letter on a mini skirt over shorts is this final look that I’ll likely add to the list of things to break down in a future dispatch:
And in sum, I offer this: flip-flops are the most unassuming chameleon to emerge from summer dressing strategies — the most versatile companion and unusually thrilling solution these outfits have insofar encountered. They are truly Birkenstocks for people who don’t really wear Birkenstocks.
And with that, I wish you good health. Hit me up if you have any questions! I know this was a shit ton.
Signing off yours,
Recently subscribed, now scrolling deep to read. MK and Ashley’s whole vibe is so borne of socal to me. We lived and died in rubber flips in high school (class of 2003.) only when I moved East did I learn that a lot of the world sees those as house shoes.
Me! And I also say attire.