Best Alternatives to Flip Flops for Men
A summertime epidemic sweeps across America each year. It’s men in flip flops. And I’m not talking about flip flops at the pool or at the beach or at the lake, which are perfectly acceptable places to wear them. I’m talking about flip flops at restaurants and movie theaters and (gasp!) on airplanes. Men, it’s time to familiarize yourselves with the best alternatives to flip flops — because thong sandals are only meant for waterside destinations.
The good news is that you have plenty of options when looking for something just as comfortable as flip flops that won’t expose your hairy, nasty toes — especially on flights, where it should be illegal for men to wear flips flops at all.
And it’s important that you find a pair of shoes that can serve as your flip flop alternatives for this one simple reason — it’s time to start dressing like an adult. You can look cool and stylish while feeling comfortable in some close-toed shoes that are perfect for summertime.
So dump those old, smelly flips flops in the garbage, and check out these 5 flip flop alternatives — plus our recommendation for the best flip flop alternative.
|Product||Upper Material||Check Price|
|SeaVees Men’s Baja Standard Slip-On (Our Top Pick!)||Vintage Wash Linen|
|Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top||Canvas|
|Vans Authentic Skate Shoe||Canvas|
|Toms Avalon Sneaker||Canvas|
|Sperry Top-Sider Salt-Washed Striper||Fabric|
1. SeaVees Men’s Baja Standard Slip-On — Our Top Pick!
When searching for the best alternatives to flip flops, some priorities are going to be universal. You want something that’s comfortable. You want something that breathes easily and keeps you as cool as possible through the hottest months of the year. A water-repellant material would be nice. So too would be a clean and attractive appearance, and colors just neutral enough to go with almost anything.
On all of these fronts, the Baja Standard Slip-On from SeaVees delivers.
This is our top pick for best flip flop alternative because of all the boxes it checks. You can dress it down for a day at the pool or beach, and you can dress it up for a hot summer night out on the town at the new restaurant that everyone’s been talking about.
You won’t miss your flip flops at all when you snag a pair of the SeaVees Men’s Baja Standard Slip-On. Choose your favorite color, or get a couple of pairs to keep them fresh and to diversify the options in your summertime shoe rotation.
Comfort and Style
These SeaVees are incredibly comfortable — after a brief breaking in period. They may feel a little tight and a little stiff when you first step into them. But give it a week and you’ll find that these shoes are spacious and incredibly comfortable — much more comfortable than the other options on this page.
They also offer a nice, clean appearance that will tie together all sorts of summer outfits. These shoes look great with board shorts, with khaki shorts and even with jeans. They’re water-repellent, too, which means you can take them out on the water without fear.
Tough on Wide Feet
There is just one word of warning to share before you click away to buy your pair of Baja Standard Slip-Ons from SeaVees. They are tough on wide feet. Yes, the linen upper will stretch with time as your break them in, but wider feet will still feel a little constricted in this style of shoe. Unfortunately, there’s no wider size available for wider-footed gentleman.
In general, it’s always smart to order up a half or full size with this shoe from SeaVees, even if you have a narrow foot. And, as with most flip flop alternative, don’t expect to be able to walk miles and miles in this pair of shoes — they just don’t offer that type of support. You’ll need an athletic sneaker for longer walks.
1 Summer of Wear
This is going to be a common theme for all flip flop alternatives: It’s hard to get more than 1 summer of wear out of them. We’ve already recommended using foot powder or spray to prevent unseemly odors, but sockless shoe wearing simply ages footwear faster than otherwise. Wearing socks isn’t a viable alternative either, as the style is to wear these types of shoes without them.
The only solution is to find an inexpensive pair of flip flop alternatives, and then to enjoy the heck out of them for one season. Then, next year, you can try again with the same model of shoe, or you can test out one of the other best alternatives to flip flops.
Pros and Cons of the SeaVees Men’s Baja Standard Slip-On
Pros of the SeaVees Men’s Baja Standard Slip-On:
- Incredibly comfortable
- Water-repellant canvas construction
- Nice series of neutral color options
Cons of the SeaVees Men’s Baja Standard Slip-On:
- Takes time to break them in
- Expect only 1 summer of wear
- Not a good fit for tight feet
Few articles of clothing become truly timeless. The little black dress, the white dress shirt, trench coats, riding boots, blue jeans. The list of items whose emergence into stylishness is time immemorial is short and select. And Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars are on that list.
These shoes sat at the cutting edge of athletic apparel when they first arrived on the scene circa 1923. You won’t see them in NBA arenas anymore as you might have in the 1950s — at least not on the feet of the players. But you might certainly see them on the feet of fans, both men and women. Because Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars have become a fashion staple.
When searching for the best alternatives to flip flops, choose a pair of low top Chuck Taylor All Stars in a color that can be deployed liberally with your wardrobe. Some men prefer the traditional white or black versions, while other make things a little more interesting with a red or similarly bright pair. Either way, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Tops are among your best options for flip flop alternatives.
A True Classic
Yes, the Chuck Taylor All Stars are true classics that can go with just about anything. And that’s one of the great aspects of investing in a pair of these low tops — you get incredibly versatility. In fact, when you choose a summer white pair, you’d be hard-pressed to find an outfit these shoes wouldn’t pair with well.
Chuck Taylors have also crossed a threshold that makes them acceptable in slightly dressier situations in which other sneaker styles might not be appropriate. You can even find them in some work places.
Don’t Expect Support
You get a throwback look when you choose Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, but you also get throwback support and comfort. The rubber soles on these sneakers are thin. Our feet have been conditioned to enjoy the modern comfort and stability provided by modern sneakers and even modern dress shoes. Slipping on a pair of Chuck Taylors and wearing them for a full day can be startlingly pain inducing. You’ll get used to it the more you wear them, but those first few days (or even weeks) can be challenging.
There’s also an issue of blisters. Chuck Taylor sneakers have exposed stitching along the tongue and eyelets inside the shoes, and they can be tough on your skin when worn without socks. Again, you’ll likely get used to the stitching over time, and the blisters will begin to callous and wear away. But know that there are more comfortable shoes on this list.
Order Down a Half or Full Size
When shopping for flip flop alternatives, you’re much more likely to find shoes that run a bit small than shoes that run a bit large. But Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars are spacious, and you may want to order a half or even full size smaller than what you would normally.
Keep in mind that the canvas upper will stretch and expand the more you wear your shoes. If they are spacious to begin with, they might be too big in just a matter of weeks, which can increase rubbing and the chance that you’ll develop blisters.
Pros and Cons of the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top
Pros of the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top:
- An unmistakably classic style
- Spacious fit
- Find almost any color combination you can imagine
Cons of the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top:
- Can fit too loose on narrow feet
- Thin rubber sole means little cushioning or support
- Inner stitching can sometimes rub blisters
If Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars are the true classics, then the Authentic Skate Shoe by Vans is the new classic. These shoes have a long history that dates back to the mid-1960s, and today they are still available in a wide range of colors.
Buy a pair of skate shoes, sure, but also know that these iconic sneakers are among the best alternatives to flip flops. Again, much like the options above, they are right at home on the beach or at the pool, as well as out on the town on a summertime Thursday night when there’s no body of water for miles.
A Simple, Casual Style
The Chuck Taylors are so ubiquitous as to be nearly cliché. It seems that almost everyone owns and regularly wears a pair of Chuck Taylors. If you’re looking to find the same classic look and feel while standing out a bit from the crowd, the Authentic Skate Shoe from Vans is your best bet.
Much like Chuck Taylors, the Authentic’s stylishness is tied to its clean, simple appearance. And, like with Chuck Taylors, you can find almost any color combination your heart sets on. Find a neutral pair that goes with almost anything, or get red, neon green or even floral to make a statement with your footwear.
While the Authentic Skate Shoe by Vans is just as attractive and stylish a sneaker as the Chuck Taylor, it’s a tick lower on the comfort scale. The fit a little narrow through the middle of the foot and down to the toes, and you won’t get much in the way of support out of them. Further affecting comfort is the Authentic’s weight. These are just a tad heavier than the slip-on options on this page, which means you have to work just a little big harder to get around in them.
Also, durability is a concern with the Authentic. You’ll notice that the interior fabric begins to fray and wear away about 2/3 of the way through the summer, and the thin sole begins to shrink as well.
Air Bubbles in the Soles?
Here’s a strange quirk about the Vans Authentic Skate Shoe: rubber imperfections. You may find tiny imperfections in the rubber sole, which is harmless from a cosmetic standpoint. The trouble comes when these imperfections allow air bubbles to form in the sole’s interior. They can lead to squeaks when you walk.
These imperfections can work out over time, and they are the byproduct of a manufacturing process that allows this model to sell at bargain basement prices. But don’t be surprised if your pair of Vans Authentics features an annoying squeak with each step.
Pros and Cons of the Vans Authentic Skate Shoe
Pros of the Vans Authentic Skate Shoe:
- A simple and attractive style
- Multiple color options
- Laces provide more stability than slip-ons
Cons of the Vans Authentic Skate Shoe:
- Rubber imperfections possible, including some that create a squeaking sound
- Too casual for some settings
- Better on style than on comfort
The Toms brand is an infant when compared to decades’-old stalwarts like Converse and Vans. But Toms has gained a huge share of the market in a relatively short period of time because it delivers stylish, comfortable shoes, and also because of its unique mission that lets buyers feel like they’re doing something good just by making a purchase. (More on this in a minute.)
The missional aspect of Toms papers over some of its shoes shortcomings. But, when you need a flip flop alternative for the summer, the Avalon Sneaker by Toms demands mention. Read on to learn more about this shoe and what it offers as a summertime flip flop alternative.
Be a Part of the Toms Mission
Toms is a pretty unique company. It’s a for-profit, though it gives heavily to those in need. The company first started out by giving 1 pair of shoes to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have any for 1 pair of shoes sold. Toms still gives away shoes. But it also helps improve eyesight, access to clean water, as well as the safety of births around the world.
If you’re looking for a reason to choose a Toms product, look no further than this mission-driven approach to doing business. Thanks to Toms’ 1-for-1 business model, you can feel good when you buy a pair of their shoes.
High on Comfort, Low on Breathability
This is a really comfortable shoe, more aligned with the SeaVees than with the Converse or Vans options. But the upper isn’t quite as stable as other options, which makes it hard to be active in these shoes. And the Toms Avalon Sneaker is lacking in breathability. This is a problem through the hot summer months when you need a flip flop alternative most.
Upper isn’t as stable as other options, which makes it hard to be active
Gets Dirty Easily, Fades Fast
Toms offers a lot of really unique color, texture and material options with almost every model of shoe — the Avalon Sneaker included. You can find full-grain leather options, striped options, American flag options and many more.
But, all that said, the upper material and colors on the Avalon Sneaker tend to get dirty easily and to fade fast. We’ve already pointed out that most flip flop alternatives are only going to last one summer, but know that the Avalon Sneaker faces these specific durability challenges.
Pros and Cons of the Toms Avalon Sneaker
Pros of the Toms Avalon Sneaker:
- Buying a pair of Toms shoes means another pair given to someone in need
- High on comfort
- Unique color combinations and textured designs
Cons of the Toms Avalon Sneaker:
- Upper isn’t as stable as other options
- Low on breathability, which isn’t great for a summer shoe
- Tends to get dirty fast, and canvas color fades quickly
Sperry is a classic name in footwear, right up there with Converse and Vans — but in a different category. While the Vans Authentic and the Sperry Top-Sider Salt-Washed Striper look almost identical, the Sperry is a boat shoe rather than a sneaker. It is often associated with yachting and preppy fraternity brothers. But Sperry offers a wide range of different models of shoe. Some are more acceptable than others when searching for the best alternatives to flip flops.
As you’ll see below, boat shoes are best left to those who are … well, boating. But the Salt-Washed Striper is an acceptable flip flop alternative, though one that is less acceptable than the other options on this page.
The Durability You’d Expect From a Boat Shoe
Sperry shoes are built for activity — specifically the rigors of boating. Where the Toms Avalon Sneaker doesn’t offer much stability, and where other shoes might be a little slippery on slick surfaces, a Sperry is built to tackle such challenges. So, if you’re looking for a shoe that you can be confidently active in, consider choosing the Sperry Top-Sider Salt-Washed Striper.
Heavy and Tight
This shoe is substantial, which means it’s going to feel a little bulkier and a little heavier on your foot. It also fits a little tight. There’s less “give” to break in the shoe and see the canvas upper stretch out to give you more space. The Sperry isn’t necessarily uncomfortable, but it’s not as flip flop-like as other options.
Boat Shoes are for … Boating
Different shoes are meant for different purposes. Golf shoes are meant for playing golf. Dress shoes are meant for dressy occasions. And boat shoes are meant for boating. Much like flip flops have strayed beyond their initial home on the beach and at other waterside locations, so too have boat shoes stretched beyond their initial home on boats. For that reason and several others, it’s best to find casual shoes to kick around in on casual summer days — not boat shoes.
Pros and Cons of the Sperry Top-Sider Salt-Washed Striper
Pros of the Sperry Top-Sider Salt-Washed Striper:
- More substantial and durable than other options
- Strong brand reputation and history
- Stable enough for most activities
Cons of the Sperry Top-Sider Salt-Washed Striper:
- Leather can bleed into fabric upper
- Heavier than some alternatives
- Fit tends to be tight
OK, so we’ve gotten that message about comfort out of the way. As mentioned, there are plenty of other key decision factors to consider when searching for the best alternatives to flips flops. What are those factors? Here’s a look at some of the most significant.
What Can You Wear Them With?
You want to invest in a flip flop alternative that is versatile and can be worn with a lot of different things. That’s one reason why neutral colors are so nice. You can wear white, gray, black or navy with almost any color combination. Having red shoes is a lot of fun, but you’ll run into times when they just don’t jive with your outfit.
Where are You Going to Wear Them?
Different flip flops alternatives offer different degrees of casualness. If you’re looking for something to wear around town on a Saturday afternoon, you can go as casual as you like. If you’re looking for something that you can wear out at night or even to work, you may want to find something a little less casual. You can even use leather loafers as flip flop replacements for more formal summertime settings.
Is the Price Right?
You always want to get value out of any article of clothing, flip flop alternatives included. We’ve already established that you can only count on about 1 good summer of wear out of your alternatives to flip flops. This is mostly because you’re going to be wearing them without socks. So you may not want to spend more than $80 or so. And that’s plenty of money to spend on flip flop alternatives. You can often find deals on quality pairs of shoes for less than half that amount.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hey, we all know that flip flops are comfortable. But they just aren’t appropriate for grown men to be wearing around all the time. Can you get away with it? Lots of people do. But you can look at lot more stylish and be a lot kinder to those around you simply by finding a comparable closed-toe alternative.
But the modern flip flop arrived in America after World War II, used almost exclusively in beach communities in California (and other coastal states). They’re perfectly for walking on a sandy beach. But, for some reason, the use of flip flops has begun to drift into other settings. Flip flops were made for the beach, to be worn with a swimsuit, and they don’t make a good fit in other settings.
Making the Most of Your Investment in Flip Flop Alternatives
How can you make sure that your flip flop alternatives stay in fighting shape throughout the summer? Follow these three rules:
- Keep them odor-free
- Keep them dry
- Keep them casual
We’ve already established that it’s essential to use odor-fighting powders or sprays. You should also find a way to air them out or dry them out if they get wet, either by water or by sweat. Keeping them odor-free and dry will do more to extend the life of your shoes than anything else. But also keep it casual. That is, don’t take your flip flop alternatives too seriously. They are meant to be worn outdoors, so get out there and don’t worry too much about what happens to them. After all, it’s likely you only have 1 summer to enjoy them. So wring as much enjoyment out of your flip flop alternatives as possible.
Final Thoughts on Finding the Best Alternatives to Flip Flops
After I graduated from college, I spent years shedding the college-style wardrobe and transitioning into dressing like an adult. Dressing like an adult doesn’t mean you dress boring or too seriously. In fact, it most often means that you’re a much sharper and stylish dresser.
But it’s hard to start dressing like a stylish adult when you’re still clinging to your flip flops. Make sure you make the full transition out of college and youth and into adulthood. How? By finding your best option from among the many alternatives to flip flops.
Have you discovered even better alternatives to flip flops? Let us know about them in the comments section below, or send us a note using our contact form.
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