Stronger, Tougher, Floppier
September 4, 2007 9:24 AM   Subscribe

I'm sick of buying Old Navy flip-flops every year, only to have them wear out on me in early August, when I'd like to keep wearing them well into October. I'd like to invest in one or two really awesome pairs that will last me through at least an entire year of wear, if not more. The style must be similar. Solid color, cushy sole, not too heavy, straps that are about the same width or a touch wider and don't irritate my feet. Preferably not too expensive, but if they'll last me several years I'd consider it. I'd like to start with solid black, but I would spring for a brown pair if I found something really good. So, any recommendations? Have any of you found flip-flops that have held up continuously, or are they just typically made to be worn through quickly? Bonus points for something that has a little bit of arch support to it.
posted by almostmanda to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (47 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: i really like rainbow flip flops. they hold up real well and have arch support. I feel like for straight up flip flops, these are the best ones available.
posted by alkupe at 9:26 AM on September 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

Havaianas. I've worn the same black pair pretty much daily for over a year and 1/2 and they are still in good shape.
posted by k8t at 9:26 AM on September 4, 2007

Have you checked out Birkenstock?
posted by fallenposters at 9:27 AM on September 4, 2007

Seconding Havaianas.
posted by chickaboo at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2007

Rainbows will hold up forever. They'll chew your feet up the first few weeks you wear them, but then they'll be comfortable like none other. It's a Cali thing.
posted by devilsbrigade at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just buy a dozen from Old Navy... they'll still be cheaper than any "real" brand that will last.
posted by smackfu at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2007

IMO, Old Navy 'flops are meant to be a knockoff of Havaianas so you'll find the style remarkably similar. I have a few Havs that are nearly 2 years old and only just starting to wear thin in the sole, I'll get next spring out of them too. For added convenience at a slightly higher price, you can pick up Havs for about $20 or less at Urban Outfitters (or order online direct).
posted by bunnycup at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2007

absolutely check out Rainbows. growing up in CA its like the official footwear.

i now live in arizona and wear them every day (casual work environment). i've had the same pair for 4 years now with no end in sight.
posted by uaudio at 9:36 AM on September 4, 2007

yeah, Havaianas. and Vans, too.
posted by matteo at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2007

i prefer tevas.

i wear mine all summer, and then the rest of the year indoors in my apartment (my feetsies demand i have footwear on at all times, alas).

i get about 8-10 months out of them.

i buy a new pair or two every spring. they're about 20$ each, and worth it to me.

though, if you love old navy sandals, why not buy a few pair a year (if they really are only 3.50 normally!)?
posted by misanthropicsarah at 9:40 AM on September 4, 2007

posted by Sassyfras at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2007

The Chaco Flip is a really nice flip-flop. (I linked to the women's one, but the men's looks about the same.) It should last you at least a year of routine wear, based on my experience, and stays on your feet better than most flip-flops. Not cheap, but worth the money (and can sometimes be found on deep discount at REI and other stores).
posted by Forktine at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2007

Havaianas are good for the beach and some walking around--they're rubber, so great for getting wet. They have no arch support and really aren't built for a ton of walking around, in my opinion.
posted by alkupe at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2007

seconding chacos, they are damn near indestructible.
posted by phil at 9:49 AM on September 4, 2007

Are the Chaco's flip flops heavy? That was the biggest problem I had with their sandals. They weighed more than my shoes.
posted by smackfu at 9:51 AM on September 4, 2007

Nthing Reefs!
posted by zackola at 10:07 AM on September 4, 2007

3rding Reefs
posted by J-Train at 10:13 AM on September 4, 2007

My black Tevas lasted for ten years. Ten years!

I wear them constantly when I'm not at work or formal occasions. I just bought a new pair of the lowest-end sandals this summer for $20, and fully expect another ten years out of them.

So, yeah, seconding Teva. Ten years!
posted by infinitewindow at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2007

Nthing Havaianas, my pair is now 3 yrs old and still going strong with near-daily summer use.
Interesting side-note, when I went to Brazil, everyone was wearing them- homeless people and posh rich people at hotels. They seem to be the universal footwear there.
posted by rmless at 10:19 AM on September 4, 2007

Nthing Reefs. Sooooooo comfortable, and they last forever.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:27 AM on September 4, 2007

nothing beats my Rainbows. I wear them every single day to work, the beach, and to the bars. Have about 2 years into them so far and my feet have never been happier.

stitching is guaranteed for life and they are super comfortable.

Rainbows Sandals Official Site

posted by dieguido at 10:30 AM on September 4, 2007

I have a pair of black Teva Mush flip flops that have made it through two summers and are still going strong. The best part is that the foam footbed has great arch support, which those Old Navy flip flops don't have.
posted by blueskiesinside at 10:45 AM on September 4, 2007

I had a couple of really good pairs from JCrew that lasted for several seasons. Not daily wear, but pretty close. They were wicked comfy, and pretty durable. I did have a blowout, but after pushing the thong back into the sole I had no more problems. (Now that I've had my Birks resoled, that's pretty much all I wear. No clue if JCrew is still selling the quality flip-flops or not.)
posted by Banky_Edwards at 10:51 AM on September 4, 2007

I've had my Rainbows for like 3 years and many different places in the world. I wear these thngs nearly year-round (one of the perks of living in SoCal).

Go with the will not regret it.
posted by ThFullEffect at 10:57 AM on September 4, 2007

Are the Chaco's flip flops heavy? That was the biggest problem I had with their sandals. They weighed more than my shoes.

Their sandals were redesigned a couple of years ago, and are now much lighter than the old style (which were crazy heavy, as you noticed). The Flips are lighter yet. Heavier than the ultralight foam flip-flops that keep floating up on beaches, because they are made from denser materials, but not uncomfortably heavy at all. Their website, or that of a company like REI, should have average weights listed; just make sure that if you are comparing to other brands that the weights given are for the same sizes.
posted by Forktine at 11:02 AM on September 4, 2007

I have a pair of Teva's that are well into their second decade of use, and just got a pair of Keen sandals that seem pretty sturdy, so both those brands might fit your needs, as others have mentioned.
posted by TedW at 11:11 AM on September 4, 2007

I currently have a pair of solid black Reefs and while they are pretty dang comfortable -- they leave black marks (the non-permanent sort) all over my white linoleum floor.

Sort of annoying and something a "long-term buyer" should probably consider.
posted by LakesideOrion at 11:56 AM on September 4, 2007

To avoid that, you want "non-marking" soles. Most that are aimed at boaters advertise this, because you don't want black marks on your expensive fiberglass.
posted by smackfu at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2007

Hmm, my Reefs have never left marks on floors. I'm nthing both Reefs and Tevas - both are super-comfy, with a nice amount of arch support, and they last for ages.
posted by bassjump at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2007

I just bought my first ever pair of good quality flip flops. They're by Simple, the Cush model and they are super comfortable and have a nice textured sole. The bands are comfortable and fit me perfectly. I like them a lot.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:22 PM on September 4, 2007

I will 27th Reefs. Mine are comfortable and show no sign of wear even after wearing them all summer long. And even better, built in bottle opener! (I have this pair.)
posted by bDiddy at 12:23 PM on September 4, 2007

I've had a pair of Reefs for many years. Not daily wear, but well made and comfy.
posted by Tubes at 12:54 PM on September 4, 2007

3rding Tevas. My initial reaction was that they are kinda pricey, but it is amazing how long the squish has held up!
posted by misterbrandt at 12:55 PM on September 4, 2007

Another vote for rainbows! I've had my original pair for years, wear them daily and have taken them literally around the world with me.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:14 PM on September 4, 2007

29th'ng Reefs. LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM!! So comfortable. Wornthem every day this summer and they still look brand new Not too expensive either.
posted by pearlybob at 1:30 PM on September 4, 2007

Nthing Reefs. Fantastic.
posted by kdern at 2:17 PM on September 4, 2007

Nthing Reefs. Very comfortable, great arch support, last for years.
posted by ourobouros at 2:52 PM on September 4, 2007

I'm a convert from Old Navy flips myself (fell on my ass one too many times in the rain), and I'm wearing my 'bows right now. My sister and I bought our mom a pair, and she loves them too (she's not really a flip flop person, and she sometimes has trouble finding shoes that fit due to her high arches).

Really, though, I've never heard anybody complain about Rainbows, Reefs, or Tevas (and have heard wonderful things about each. Though it looks like you can get your basic leather flip flop from any of the three, I tend to equate that look with Rainbows. Reefs are generally a bit more elaborate, and Tevas are kind of sporty -- I mostly see the outdoorsy/hiking/environmentalist types wearing the Teva sandals rather than flip flops. But again, that's just what I've noticed.

If you get a pair of Rainbows and any of your friends wear them (and your shoe sizes are not drastically different), you will accidentally put one of theirs on at least once. When they've broken it, it's easy to tell the difference once you're wearing them, but most pairs end up looking a lot a like.

That is way too long for an answer about flip flops.
posted by natabat at 2:54 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

RAINBOW all the way. Not foam like you're used to, bet better in the long run. Last for years and years.
posted by SixteenTons at 3:06 PM on September 4, 2007

I've heard nothing but the best about Rainbow, too. Down here, teens also buy the cheapest flip flops they can find (like the Old Navy kind) by the dozen and customize them with buttons, faux fur, floofy yarn, all kinds of stuff. This way, they have an entire flip flop wardrobe to choose from.

/slight derail
This is the second flip flop post I've seen recently and I was curious: where do all of you wear these flip flops? I live a few miles from the beach, and to me most sandals would be both more comfortable and more stylish than flip flops.
/end derail
posted by misha at 3:31 PM on September 4, 2007

I've had a pair of Sensi flip-flops for almost a decade now. The style's not quite spot on, but they're very comfy and don't wear out.
posted by kmennie at 4:34 PM on September 4, 2007

Response by poster: Man, you guys are amazing.

After cursory internet research, I concluded that the Rainbows were a bit out of my price range, but Reefs got so much love that I decided to head to the mall and look for some, or at least size myself in their brand.

I couldn't find any black ones that I liked at the Pac Sun, but they seemed pretty comfy, so I resolved to order some online. I tried on the Rainbows on the rack too, but $41 was still a little high. Plus they only had brown.

I checked the clearance bin on my way out, and lo and behold, there was a pair of black Rainbows. Men's medium. $19.99. Felt like a dream. I took them up to the register & the nice girl there rang them up. Apparently, clearance is 75% off, and there was some 50% off sale going on in the store. My final price? $3.22

I am so glad I asked this question. Thanks everyone.
posted by almostmanda at 5:44 PM on September 4, 2007

I see the OP has found their deal, but I've gotta at least try to step in here and pimp some Hawaii brands. We call them "slippahs" here, and they are more common then socks. They are acceptable attire in almost any setting. It is not uncommon to see slippahs that have been worn through in the specific areas where a particular person's foot meets the rubber and the rubber meets the road. When dozens of pairs are piled up on the porch during a party, sometimes the only way to find your own is to keep trying them on until you find your own personal foot grooves worn into them. It is a sin to steal someone else's slippahs, because it can totally screw up your stride if you end up wearing someone else's because your own got nabbed. I could go on and on.

Anyways, I was a little surprised how much the mainland brands cost... I guess we're more of the "affordable/disposable" mindset here. Below are some typical Hawaii brands that I am familiar with and have owned:

Surfahs or Locals are inexpensive and crazy durable, but are a little harder than what you'd be used to if you're comparing them to Old Navy. Really cheap, though. They've gotten a little flashy with all the designs and colors, but they're still a popular choice here because of the price - around $3.99 from your local Long's.

Scott's are pretty hardy and would be considered "luxury" models by Hawaii standards. These are the kind you could wear to a casual wedding reception or someone's uncle's funeral (if there's drinking afterwards). Lots of options on these. Mine were around $12.
posted by krippledkonscious at 6:12 PM on September 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Reefs here.

I've also wanted to try Kino Sandals ever since the actress Jenna Fischer mentioned them on her blog.
posted by snafu at 6:32 PM on September 4, 2007

Reefs FTW
posted by sneakin at 6:50 PM on September 4, 2007

Havaianas are the best! Every 3rd person in NYC wears them everywhere, and we walk alot. I've walked all over this city in one day in Havaianas with no foot pain at all. The great thing is that they mold to your feet a bit, cause the rubber is so soft. They are cheap, come in great colors and last forever.
posted by l-chan at 8:57 PM on September 4, 2007

Wore my black Reefs all day at the Renaissance Faire (tourist, not participant) and they got very dusty and a bit muddy. I tossed them in the washing machine on gentle cycle and set them out to dry, and they're as good as new. Well, better than new because my carefully crafted foot imprints are still there.
posted by Joleta at 9:05 PM on September 4, 2007

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