Sandals in the City

I Couldn't Help but Wonder...Are Flip-Flops a Faux Pas?

By Kady Ruth Ashcraft ·
Stephen Galle/Getty images

In New York City, the warmer months bring with them limitless possibilities. Should we grab drinks post work? What about a bike ride through the park? Have you taken the ferry? Most of these are met with a resounding “yas!!!” But there is one summer subject that divides a city. It is more controversial than one’s views on living in Astoria or the where the best dollar slice exists. It is: should you wear sandals in New York City?

Now, let’s make something clear. Sandals run a spectrum from flip-flops to a light Ked’s tennis shoe. The latter is definitely not a sandal and the former is something barely safe to wear around slippery gym locker rooms. In between these two shoes is a wide array of footwear that are derivative of sandals. It is in my experience and well thought out opinion that anything flimsier than a sturdy and strappy platform sandal should not be worn on the streets of New York City. 

I didn’t always have such an opinion. I was once a naive 23 year old woman, new to the city, unaware of smelly train cars and my unearthed ability to cuss out a cabbie who was purposefully taking me the wrong way to up my meter bill. It was a lovely evening in July where the day had been sweltering hot but the evening was the perfect kind of warm that never once felt oppressive or too sweaty. I decided to wear a strappy rubber sandal, closely resembling a flip flop. My friends were meeting at a nearby bar and I texted them letting them know I was on my way. In that brief moment of distraction I crossed paths with what I would later understand to be a sick and/or dying rat. Usually a rat has rodent like reflexes and knows when to dart between fecal matter in trash bags strewn across the sidewalk in Brooklyn. This one did not. It was disoriented.

Without getting into too gruesome of details, the interaction ended in me punting a rat across the street, as if I were the athletic star of Bend It Like Beckham. I then entered the drinking establishment where my friends were gathered, walked straight past them and into the bathroom where I stuck my entire foot into a sink. I would've preferred acid. 

Reader, let me tell you: I haven’t worn a strappy sandal since that fateful evening. And I only share the story with you so that you know the risk you’re taking when wearing an open-toe shoe. For those of you smart enough to heed this advice, you may be wondering: what shoe is appropriate for summer in the city?

Here are factors to take into consideration:

  • The height of the shoe: maybe you want to wear something more revealing and I reserve you that right. In which case, wear something high enough that the sides of your feet don’t risk contact with the dirty NYC ground.
  • Are there puddles?: This is a trick question. You would think I was referring only to rain puddles but in NYC there is another type of puddle. Rain puddles are innocent. In the city, sometimes it hasn't rained for months and there is still a mysterious puddle in the street. Where did the liquid come from? The best scientific minds suggest that it is a puddle of the tears cried by thousands of New Yorkers stressed out by the MTA and rising rent prices.
  • What kind of event are you attending?: Does it require moving to different locations? Will it mostly be indoors? If extended travel and outdoor activities are a part of your evening, consider a sneaker. 
  • How sturdy are the straps?:  NYC is a walking city and you can't run the risk of rolling an ankle, even though that is preferable to kicking a rat. Make sure your feet are firmly secured.

Ultimately, the ideal sandal is a sneaker. But if you must wear the summer shoe, cover as much of your foot as possible. And remember, you are legally obligated to make a citizen's arrest on anyone wearing flip-flops on the street. They pose a health risk to us all. 

Kady Ruth Ashcraft

Kady Ruth Ashcraft is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and Amtrak Princess. Follow her on twitter @kadyrabbit and tweet her pictures of your pets.

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