Slides are a summer shoe consisting of a sole and an upper connected to that sole that covers the instep. The toes and ankle are exposed, and they get their name because you “slide” into and out of them. The upper can be one solid piece as you see at left, and sometimes it may be criss-crossed in an “X” fashion.
When the weather gets hot, it can be tough to work up the motivation to wear full shoes. Even the most dedicated of us will have days when even the lightest of shoes are just too much. Toe-flaunting controversy aside, it behooves us men to have some really lightweight options at our fingertips. Or should we say toe tips? Or perhaps tippy-toes?
Flip-flops aren’t the only summertime footwear on the block, guys. Slides are great options that are equally as comfortable. They offer both a different look and relief for men who don’t care to have anything in between their toes.
Men’s Slide Sandals: Where Do They Come From?
Many of us saw these in our college dorms, as it was unadvisable to allow your bare feet to touch the floor in the communal showers. Their origins go back much, much further.
As you can see, sandals are a primitive form of footwear. There’s not a whole lot going on in terms of construction, so it’s no surprise that they’re the oldest shoe style known to humankind. The oldest ones were found, interestingly, in what is now Oregon in the United States. Carbon dating puts them at approximately 10,000 years old!
Though this doesn’t necessarily apply to slides, the ancient Greeks and Egyptians wore sandals quite frequently.
In modern times, flip-flops became popular in the United States shortly after the Second World War. Slides have been right there with them the whole time, though their popularity is arguably not as ubiquitous as their thonged cousins.
How To Wear Slides (Or Any Shoe In Which Your Toes Are Exposed)
Pedicures & You
Like their flip-flop cousins, slides leave your toes exposed. We’ll get into the question of whether or not this is appropriate for non-beach or locker room wear in the next section, but for now let’s assume that it’s kosher to wear these open-toed numbers as you would any other shoe.
Your. Feet. Can. Not. Be. Gross.
If your toenails are overgrown, trim them. If you have toenail fungus, athlete’s foot, or any other affliction that appears unhealthy, treat it before exposing your toes in public. We shower, brush our teeth, and apply deodorant before leaving the house partly because it’s bad manners to subject other people to our often-unpleasant body odor.
The same logic applies to forcing people to look at your gross toes.
If you have to get a pedicure, do so. It won’t kill you.
Formality: Can I Wear These In The City?
Short answer: yes, but only if your feet aren’t gross as outlined above. Even this is a point of contention, as many folks feel as if slides and other such footwear should be kept at home, at the beach, or in the locker room.
Regardless of which side of this debate you fall on, slides are casual. They’re often sold in bright colors that can’t really be dressed up, and even simple black or brown ones aren’t dressy enough for anything more than casual trousers. To wear them with anything more formal is to miss the point.
Here’s a brief breakdown of what to wear slides with:
Jeans, shorts, & casual trousers: Slides of any color or material, making sure they’re coordinated with your trousers or at least some other part of your outfit. Remember that slides made of black or dark brown leather have a dressier vibe than more colorful ones made of rubber. Keep the darker ones for dinner or drinks out and wear the colorful ones during the day for more casual affairs, like brunch or grocery shopping.
Don’t wear these with socks.
Slides are for warm weather unless you are looking to intentionally contract frostbite. This generally means three months out of the year for many places in the world. If you happen to live in a tropical paradise like Hawaii, Santorini, or Jacksonville, Florida, you can wear them all year round.
For those of us in more temperate climates, here’s a breakdown:
- Spring: N/A (unless it’s a particularly hot late spring day, in which case see the summer guidelines below)
- Summer: Bright colors during the day, black or brown at night
- Autumn: N/A
- Winter: N/A
Tips On Managing Slide Discomfort
Though slides will avoid you having anything in between your toes like you’d have with flip-flops, like any sockless shoe, they can present their own host of issues.
The most common issue with slides is uncomfortable rubbing against either or both sides of the feet. This doesn’t happen in every case, but certainly in enough cases to warrant a mention here. How can you deal with this? There are a couple of ways:
- Use a lot of leather conditioner and use it often to soften the upper if it’s made of leather.
- Wear them inside with socks to break them in. Remove your socks before wearing them outside.
- Band-Aid Friction Block (link will take you to Amazon). This stuff is like magic, but you’ll have to reapply periodically.
Where Should I Buy Slides?
Not every shoe manufacturer will make slides, but there are some who do so quite well. Our suggestions are below, but we’d love to hear about your favorite pair in the comments!
Are Slide Sandals For Me?
If you live in a place where it gets hot for any amount of time during the year, you should definitely own a pair of sandals, and slides are a great option. It’s just a matter of whether or not you prefer them aesthetically to flip-flops.
If your feet are in presentable condition, you would be well-served by grabbing a pair of slides. Whether or not you prefer to wear them in town or only while on vacation is entirely up to you. In fact, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue in the comments section. Let us know!