Sandals vs. Flip Flops - Difference Between Sandals & Flip Flops

In the epic battle between sandals vs flip flops, there is never an absolute winner.

We have now established that our feet need to breathe, and that involves getting rid of those stuffy and overpowering sneakers. It makes me wonder, what is the difference between sandals and flip flops? But, are flip flops sandals? And what is the flip flops and sandals difference? Are they not the same thing? 

What is the difference between sandals vs flip flops ?

So, I set about trying to figure out the difference between sandals and flip flops or would it be better to articulate it as the difference between flip flops and sandals? I’m perplexed to say the least, and you probably are too…

So, let’s get done with the mundane stuff and get the definitions out of the way. A sandal is a type of open footwear where the front of your feet are exposed. It usually has a thin sole and consists of multiple straps. The main strap goes over the top of your foot, and the other goes around your ankle. This ensures that your feet benefit from air circulation and it allows the moisture to dissipate. But now you would be wondering – isn’t that exactly what a flip flop is? What is the difference between sandals and flip flops?

You may go so far as to ask - are flip flops sandals?

Well, you’d be quite right. Flip flops are a type of sandal. They also have a strap. They keep your feet cool, and they are moisture wicking. And, you’d now be scratching your head wondering, is a flip flop a sandal?

Yes, and no. There is actually enough to distinguish the two and talk about flip flop vs sandals, and understanding this difference will help you to choose the one that best suits your style, type and predilection.

Sandals vs Flip Flops - Roman Sandals

Sandals vs flip flops

Flip flops tend towards being more lightweight and are easier to carry around. They are slimmer, for the lack of a better word. The difference between sandals and flip flops are that they tend to be more water-friendly, since they are made from materials such as rubber or plastic. They are sometimes made with a fabric upper. One needs to understand that with flip flops it’s all about convenience, comfort and portability.  

In contrast, sandals tend to be heavier. They consist of more earthy materials such as leather or cork or fabric, and with a thick rubber or leather sole. Sandals tend to be more acceptable in the places where shoes are. Although, this is changing, and flip flops are also becoming more widely acceptable.

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To reiterate, in flip flops vs sandals. Flips flops are lighter, more weather friendly and portable, whereas sandals are more acceptable, heavier and made with more shoe-like materials.

We’d say this one is a tie.

What about the look?

Aesthetically speaking, flip flops come in a variety of styles, colours, textures and types. People would be spoilt for choice, and they’re options galore. Sandals on the other hand are more traditional, and although they come in a myriad of colours, most of them tend to stick to a more earthy tone. Don’t get us wrong. Sandals can be as flamboyant and electrifying as their counterparts, but the sheer number of variations, styles and hues seem to be more prevalent in flip flops.

In this “department” flip flops take the win.

Occasion and comfort

This is where another sandals vs flip flops showdown comes to the fore. It can be argued that sandals are better for more long-term use. They are more acceptable during semi-formal and more closed-shoe occasions, and that they are superior and standard.  

However, we have now reached an era where flip flops are staying true to their form and function, and yet they are becoming more comfortable, sturdier, premium, and most importantly, widely accepted.

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So, are sandals a lot classier and more professional looking than flip flops, and are they inherently more comfortable? Or, are we giving into age-old biases?

Well, with advancements in technology and better research, flip flops are seeing stellar enhancements, quite unlike any other. The flip flop has gone from the new kid on the block, to a force to be reckoned with.  

At the end of the day, there is one word to remember - YOU.

It’s all about your style, your preferences, and what “speaks to you.” You don’t have to choose a side. It is not about a flip flop vs sandal. 

Or is it? 

I guess, I should end by saying - why wear footwear, when you can slip into them …



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