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The question

Are flip-flops on guys ever acceptable in the city?

The answer

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Acceptable or not, they are certainly prevalent. You even see tough guys outside nightclubs in their baggy shorts and little rubber dollar-store shoes, as if they had just left a public shower. You half expect them to be carrying a towel and deodorant.

It's a strangely fragile look for would-be macho guys; perhaps that light/heavy contrast is the point. There are, of course, different kinds of sandals with toe thongs: All-leather ones with an actual vamp (the part of the upper where the laces usually are) look much more adult than plastic or rubber ones do. However, there is still the gnarly problem of visible toenails, the least sexy part of the male anatomy.

In my long experience with perversion of all kinds, I have not once met or heard of a female fetishizing the male foot. So, if a man must bare his toes and cares at all about the comfort of others, he should at least get his nails clipped and the horny calluses filed off before he gets mistaken for a toad. Personally, I might wear a thong-style sandal for weekend outings like grocery shopping, but never out in the evening.

Rubber-soled flip-flops belong, and must remain, in the gym locker.

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided , is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a fashion question? E-mail .

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