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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best flip-flops for women

It just wouldn’t be summer without flip-flops. A ubiquitous sight during the warmer months, flip-flops for women have transformed from plain, unisex, utilitarian shower shoes to distinct fashion statements. Flip-flops are even encroaching on the staid office workspace, despite many companies’ efforts to keep footwear strictly businesslike. 

Flip-flops for women are no longer just useful; they’re an essential accessory, dressing up casual summer wear, swimsuit ensembles, and outdoor party attire alike. Whether adorned with flowers and beads or designed with function and foot comfort in mind, flip-flops for women can be found in any shoe closet. They have such a range of options that it’s perfectly all right to have more than one pair — even several pairs! 

Still, no one wants to buy flip-flops that are uncomfortable regardless of how they look. Read on for our buying guide to choosing the perfect flip-flops for your lifestyle, fashion preferences, and comfort needs. And don’t forget to check out our favorites.

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Flip-flops for women can complement both casual and dressy looks. It’s all in how you bring the outfit together.

Key considerations

Flip-flop 101

Flip-flops seem to be an integral part of summer culture, but how they became a fashion staple follows a winding road of sandal development. To understand these simple sandals and where they fit in your wardrobe, check out their amazing history. 

Thong sandals were developed thousands of years ago, and variations can be found in many cultures around the world. But the modern flip-flop as we know it today — with two straps in a Y shape from between the first and second toes to the sides of the foot — developed from zoris — straw and fabric thong sandals brought home by servicemen returning from Japan in the 1940s and 1950s. 

Flip-flops didn’t just become popular in the US at this time. In the 1960s, entrepreneurs in Brazil modified the zori design so it would stand up to South America’s tropical climate and sell for cheap, creating a sandal with a thin rubber sole and plastic straps and an iconic brand: Havaianas. 

California beach culture of the 1960s, along with popular movies and TV shows, helped to cement the flip-flop as an icon of summertime fun.

A thicker, stronger, and more comfortable flip-flop was developed in the 1970s that combined three layers of material to create the sole, including a shaped inner layer to provide better arch support. This helped boost the popularity of flip-flops even further.

Materials

The modern flip-flop is built even more simply than its zori progenitor. A thin sole is shaped from rubber, and a Y-shaped thong made of plastic, nylon, or leather is attached to the front and sides of the sole. The thong attachment points are punched through the sole and secured underneath so that the sandal can withstand the forces generated during wear, such as crushing, bending, pulling, and twisting.

Sole

The modern flip-flop design almost universally includes three layers regardless of the thickness of the finished sole.

Top layer: This is a thin piece of rubber molded to include tiny ridges or nubs that keep the foot from slipping around on the sandal.

Middle layer: This cushioning layer provides a little comfort and helps shape the sandal. It’s sometimes created in a contrasting color to give the flip-flop a stylish stripe along the center of the sole.

Bottom layer: This is a harder, more durable layer of rubber that’s textured or ridged to provide traction and prevent slipping poolside or sliding on beach sand.

Qualities

Comfort: If you plan to spend hours in flip-flops each day, avoid those with thin soles and hard plastic thongs. Thinner, cheaper versions are fine to wear for short periods, such as in the shower or by the pool, but your feet — and the flip-flops — will suffer on long walks.

Fit: Make sure the thong strap fits comfortably between your toes and around the sides of the foot. The sole should be in line with your heel and your toes, not too short or too long.

Style: The huge selection of flip-flops means you can find a style to match just about any outfit. 

Concerns

Foot health: Traditional flip-flops offer little to no support for the foot and only a small amount of cushioning. Wearing them for long periods can be uncomfortable, especially when they’re new. 

People with flat feet or pronation problems may experience pain and discomfort when they wear thin flip-flops. Badly fitting flip-flops can cause wearers to slip out of the sandals, get off balance, and trip. 

However, you can avoid or minimize many of these issues by taking your time and trying on several different pairs of flip-flops to ensure maximum comfort and fit.

Environmental impact: Another issue is the environmental impact of flip-flops. Today, materials including plastic and rubber are used to create them. These materials are difficult to recycle, and in landfills, they can leach chemicals into the soil and water. Major flip-flop manufacturers are leading efforts to reduce the amount of materials that go into landfills or oceans, and it’s important for consumers to be aware of their impact too.

Keep more than one pair of flip-flops in your shoe rack! Colorful print flip-flops help your feet stand out from a monochrome outfit, while classy black Havaianas let your flowy evening gown steal the show.

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Features

Whether you’re interested in rocking Flojos or Havaianas, Reefs, OluKais, or even Birkenstocks, you’ve got dozens and even hundreds of options to choose from among major flip-flop brands for women. Never mind the many imitations on the market; there’s a dizzying array.

The best way to narrow down the choice is to consider the features you’d like in a flip-flop. The following are the most common.

Color and decoration

Whether you want an all-purple pair or straps festooned with flowers and sequins, color and decoration are important features no matter what type of flip-flop you choose.

Rugged design

An extra-hard, lug-molded sole that stands up to sharp rocks during river crossings is an important feature for outdoor flip-flops.

Comfort

A radically shaped flip-flop, such as those offered by Hoka, Crocs, and Birkenstock, will give you a sandal that conforms exactly to your foot and can be worn all day. Comfort flip-flops are a must for those battling tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.

Sports

Whether it’s a flip-flop that won’t slip off when you’re carrying boards down to the beach or one that keeps you from slipping on the deck of a sailboat, flip-flops designed to perform in specific conditions are a popular choice.

Lounging

Flip-flops that are easy to slip on and offer comfort features like a massaging footbed are a great choice for wearing around the house after a long day at work.

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Caution
Never wash flip-flops in hot water. The heat can warp the materials and set stains and odors. Likewise, avoid cleaners that contain harsh chemicals.
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Accessories

Accessorizing flip-flops has been popular for a very long time. Here are some options available to consider along with your new flip-flops.

Socks: Intype Tabi Geta Socks
These low-cut socks that are split at the big toe will keep your feet comfortable in flip-flops, especially on cooler days.

Toe protectors: Mollensiur Gel Toe Protectors
Got a favorite pair of flip-flops that irritate your toes? These stick-on gel protectors cushion the space between your toes and reduce rubbing against the straps.

Shoe charms: Douqu Flip-Flop Shoe Charms
Clip-on decorations like these flower charms will instantly dress up your flip-flop straps.

Pricing

Inexpensive: Thin-soled “shower shoe” type flip-flops can be found for just $5 to $12, with a few thicker-soled models available in this price range as well.

Mid-range: Expect to pay $13 to $21 for a wider range of colors, styles, and sole thickness. Some contoured soles that provide more comfort are available in this range.

Expensive: Higher-quality materials and designs are found in the $22 to $39 price range. Some name brand flip-flops are priced well over this point, from $75 to $150.

Worried about the ecological impact of discarded flip-flops? Buy from companies that produce “green” flip-flops with fewer toxic materials or upcycled materials or that support recycling/reuse programs.

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Tips

  • Find the right fit. Fit is really important in flip-flops, so try on one size larger and one size smaller than your normal shoe size to make sure you’ve got the perfect pair.
  • Try flip-flops with different straps. If plastic thong straps are uncomfortable or chafe your feet, try flip-flops with leather or sturdy fabric straps.
  • Check them for wear. Even the greatest pair of flip-flops wear out eventually. If the soles are worn smooth or the straps are frayed, swap the sandals for a new pair.
  • Keep your flip-flops clean. Scrub grimy flip-flops with mild dish soap and rinse with cool water. It’s okay to soak them in cool soapy water for a couple of hours too. If the flip-flops are retaining odors, brush on a paste of baking soda and water, let it sit for a few minutes, then scrub the sandals with a soft brush and rinse.
  • Spruce up your flip-flops. Stick-on or clip-on decorations can brighten up the straps on an otherwise drab pair of flip-flops.
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Flip-flops don’t offer much protection and can slip off at inopportune times, so avoid wearing them when you drive or when doing yard work or manual labor.

FAQ

Q. Why can’t I buy flip-flops that are longer than my feet? I feel more comfortable in that size.

A. A longer flip-flop doesn’t fit the foot correctly, causing chafing at the straps, and it’s a safety issue. You can easily kick out of the sandals if you’re not careful, risking tripping and falling and a spilled drink (if not worse). Try a higher-priced flip-flop that has a shaped footbed and a more precise fit. You’ll be amazed by the improved comfort.

Q. I washed my flip-flops in the machine in hot water, but they still smell bad. What else can I do?

A. Washing flip-flops in hot water actually bakes in odors and stains. That’s because they’re made of materials that don’t do well in hot water, like rubber, synthetic fabrics, and leather. (Resin is less susceptible to hot water.) You can try soaking the flip-flops in cool, soapy water or rubbing on a paste of baking soda and water and letting it sit for a few hours before scrubbing it off. Baking soda will absorb some of the odor, but if the odor persists, you might need to get a new pair of flip-flops.

Q. I want to wear flip-flops to the office, but I’m not sure what style to pair with my casual Friday outfit. What do you recommend?

A. First, check your employee manual for the dress code and make sure that flip-flops are allowed at your office. Many companies banned them outright in the early 2000s when flip-flops for women became a popular item of casual outfits. If they’re allowed, consider flip-flops that are a neutral or dark color so that they take a back seat to the outfit you want to show off. It’s a tasteful, stylish way to stay comfortable and look great!

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