iStyle: Men's foot patrol - Sandals vs Shoes

To bare, or not to bare, when it comes to men’s feet? Charlie Porter and Alexander Fury go toe-to-toe on the ‘mandals’ debate


by Charlie Porter

I like to think in terms of positives. It’s hot. My feet would like to breathe. Wear sandals. Simple reductive thought, not bound by any negatives: no talk of the ugliness or otherwise of men’s feet, no interest in the alleged codes of menswear. Sandals are on my feet from the moment there’s the slightest heat through to autumn.

Out of everything I wear, sandals give me the most pleasure. I love wearing them, get excited by their design, and find them appealing on the foot. This is not about projecting the feeling of holiday onto the city – I’m a walker, and stomp through the streets in sandals rather than meander.

My current pair are two-year old dirty yellow sandals from Prada, the sole nicely thin and a plate of leather held by straps over the bridge of the foot. I have theories about how sandal design reflects the mood of a house, since things must be good if they’re thinking so clearly about a maligned item: spring/summer 2015’s Prada tan leather sandals with white bridle stitching speak of a design studio in rude health. £310, by Lanvin, £310, by Lanvin,

So much of menswear corresponds to the body itself. Dainty doesn’t work because of our size and hairiness. Good men’s sandals are like design solutions, the straps of appropriate width, the soles with a decent amount of heft. I’d love to give you some examples for right now, but this being July, fashion’s out-of-kilter seasons mean that you’re more likely to find fur-lined boots in stores. There are a few around, like the nice woven sandals by Levit 02 at Other Shop, or Topman’s sweet leather strap sandals.

I hate the language of humiliation around menswear, how clothing is used to belittle men. It’s there in the annual “what-about-pasty-legs” hysteria over shorts, or in the fear of any male flamboyancy. It seems such a waste of energy. I envy the men who go to the mosque over the road for their ability to wear a longer length. I want more choice in menswear, rather than added limitations. There are restrictions to the way I can dress that I know will never shift in my lifetime. How sad is that? How sad that, in these times, it’s only my toes that are liberated?

Charlie Porter is the men’s fashion critic of the ‘Financial Times’


Overstepping the mark

by Alexander Fury

I hate sandals. The only thing I hate more than sandals is “mandals”. Hate seems a strong word. However, hear me out. The definition of hate, simply, is “intense dislike”. I dislike few things more intensely.

I hate the style of shoe, first of all. And perhaps more intensely, I hate that lazy portmanteau thrown up in the past half-decade  – a “LOL,” something to pepper a piece of writing when a journalist can’t be bothered to flick through their mental thesaurus and find a more interesting synonym. I hate the lethargy that both the word, and sandals, represent to me.

Sandals, I’m told, are design classics. They are an eternal piece of footwear, present in some form since Neolithic times, when people first tethered pieces of hide to their feet.

Haven’t we moved on?

One of the points of clothing is to offer protection. A coat protects from rain and wind; a sun hat from UV exposure; a shoe from sharp objects embedding in the sole of the foot. But what about the top? Say, a wayward stiletto skewering your foot like a shish-kebab? A falling lit cigarette? The daily dodge of faecal matter and chewing-gum, or the grime of city concrete, plastering against your skin. If King’s College says London’s Oxford Street has the worst air pollution in the world, imagine what’s on the pavement beneath your near-bare feet. £25 £25

The qualities most often crowed about sandals are their comfort, and the fact they let feet breathe. But comfort is mostly mental, I’d argue. I also think there’s something a bit simplistic about chopping away at clothes to let your extremities breathe. My arse needs to breathe, but I have no plans to sport chaps (sorry, Donatella).

Ultimately, my hatred isn’t actually sandals. It’s the human foot I loathe. One of the reasons I dislike the term “mandal” is its limitations, the fact it genders issues: “sandal”: good, “mandal”:bad. I make no allowance for gender. I hate feet: men’s or women’s, pedicured or prehensile. Unless they’re hidden inside a good shoe.

Alexander Fury is the fashion editor of The Independent and i

newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn