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Have you ever wondered why we call thong sandals “flip flops?” Slip on a pair and walk around on a hard floor. The onomatopoetic sound of the rubber hitting the ground will give you your answer!
The words “flip flops” and “slippers” are interchangeable in some cultures. In others, the terms refer to two entirely distinct pieces of footwear. We’ve created this slippers guide to end the slippers VS flip flops debate and give you the answers you’ve been craving.
Read on to learn how and why these shoes differ, including our tips for buying slippers and flip-flops that meet your needs.
What Are Flip Flops?
Flip flops are simple, open-toed thong-style shoes intended for outdoor wear. Their design exposes the majority of your foot. You secure them to your foot using a simple y-shaped divider that sits between your first and second toes.
Although most flip flops are lightweight, manufacturers make them using materials designed to withstand outdoor wear. Common materials include rubber, plastic, and PVC. Some eco-friendly companies have begun using plant-based materials to construct their flip flops.
Wearing flip flops does not provide much support for your foot, so they aren’t ideal for walking or hiking long distances or on rough terrain. In fact, most people choose to wear flip flops in situations in which they’ll be removing their shoes. They’re ideal footwear for the beach, a setting where many people remove them to swim or walk in the sand.
Other common names for flip flops include thongs, slides, or sliders.
What Are Slippers?
Slippers are less likely to have a standardized shape or construction. Unlike flip flops, manufacturers design slippers with comfort in mind. They come in styles that include slides, boots, ballet flats, slip-ons, or mules.
The most significant difference between slippers and flip flops is that slippers are for indoor wear. They incorporate plush, fuzzy materials chosen to feel soft and warm on your feet.
Some slippers have a firm sole for outdoor wear, while others are soft and designed for the house. Even slippers with soles aren’t usually worn for extended periods outdoors. They are appropriate for fetching the mail or newspaper and little else.
Many people wear slippers on cold nights to keep their feet warm. Others wear slippers to protect their feet when walking barefoot indoors.
It’s rude to wear shoes at home in some cultures, so some families wear slippers instead of outdoor shoes. Culture is one area in which there may be overlap. If you visit a home and haven’t brought indoor slippers, the hosts may offer a clean pair of flip flops to wear instead.
Slippers vs. Flip Flops
While slippers and flip flops have several similarities, they have unique styles, constructions, and functions. We’ve broken down the differences so you can differentiate between these types of footwear at a glance.
Manufacturers make flip flops from materials designed to withstand some wear and tear. Common materials include various types of rubber and plastic. While some slippers may have a rubber or plastic sole, materials are softer, such as fabric and memory foam.
Flip flops have a standard shape, including a y-shaped thong that sits between the toes. The design of slippers is far more variable. Some slippers resemble flip flops and include a thong or slide-style construction, while others take on uniquely comfortable shapes.
Flip flops are for outdoor wear, and your entire foot has exposure to the elements. This exposure makes them ideal for warmer temperatures. Slippers tend to come in warmer materials, and while they aren’t specifically for winter, they pair well with cold floors and chilly nights.
The design of flip flops makes them ideal for quick removal. They are perfect for situations where you don’t plan to wear shoes for very long, such as at the beach. Slippers are for comfort and safety and specifically for indoor use.
What About Slides?
What about a shoe that falls between a flip flop and a slipper, such as a Yeezy slide? Slides are similar to flip flops because they secure the foot at the front.
They differ, however, because instead of a thong, they are secure with a wide horizontal band that sits across the base and knuckles of your toes. They are always backless and easy to remove. Their soles can range in thickness and typically offer more support than flip flops, making them better suited for daily wear.
Slides can be unisex, and you can wear them indoors or outdoors. They are popular with athletes who want to keep their feet cool and dry before changing into athletic shoes or sneakers. They are also popular high fashion footwear worn by celebrities ranging from Rhianna to Snoop Dogg.
Although slides are open-toed shoes, they are often worn with socks, though this is a personal aesthetic choice.
Free Your Toes With Flip Flops or Slippers
While you may call your flip-flops “slippers” or your slippers “flip flops,” it’s clear that these are two distinct types of footwear with their histories. Wherever you fall on the slippers VS flip flops debate, your toes will appreciate the freedom that this style of shoes provides. If all else fails, you can always tell them apart by the sound they make when they hit the floor on a hot summer day!
If you’re a footwear fanatic, we have plenty of other posts that will pique your interest. Check out the rest of the blog for more guides to shoes, fashion, style, and more.