Flip Flops vs Sandals: What's the Difference


Summer is the most appropriate time for getting rid of all the possible layers. It's the time of the season when we wear dresses, shorts, t-shirts, light jackets (only when necessary, of course). As to the shoes, flip-flops and sandals, are the best footwear for warm weather.

These two types of footwear are often considered the same thing. After all, wearing them allows our feet to breathe and keeps us comfortable on hot summer days. However, there are differences between the two that can have a significant impact on whether you choose flip flops or sandals. In this flip-flops vs sandals article, we’ll be focusing on 5 main features that should help you readily distinguish between the two. More importantly, the facts below should enable you to choose the most appropriate summer shoes for you.

What’s the Difference Between Sandals and Flip Flops?

Before we get down to the difference between flip flops and sandals, let’s first define what they are.  Flip flops are a type of sandal that features a Y-shaped strap called a "toe thong." The strap runs from the top of the flip flops where it splits into two to form the Y-shape. The two ends of the strap are placed around both sides of the foot. The sole is flat and lightweight. Sandals are probably the oldest type of footwear in the world. They feature one or more straps attached to the sole. The main strap typically runs from one side of your instep to the other. They are available in a variety of designs.


As we've already mentioned, flip flops are typically lightweight. This is because they are usually made of rubber, foam, plastic, or hemp. Though the thickness of the sole may vary, they are typically constructed using less material. Because of this, the cost of a pair of flip flops is usually low, making it more affordable for consumers with a limited budget.

Sandals are typically sturdier than flip flops because manufacturers use thicker materials to construct the sole. Like flip flops, sandals can be made of rubber. However, manufacturers also use leather, cork, wood, or fabric that make sandals more durable and shoe-like.


While both flip flops and sandals have straps attached to the sole, their look and design are completely different. Both types of footwear are available in a variety of colors and textures. However, flip flops will only feature a Y-shaped strap. Sandals, on the other hand, can have more than one strap that runs across the foot of the wearer. In addition, sandals can have a flat sole or heels/wedges. They are typically more fashionable and sophisticated in appearance. Sandals are also available in a variety of styles, from simple to glamourous. Gladiator sandals, for example, feature straps that wrap around the lower leg. Because of the design, this type of san

Ankle Support

The biggest and most obvious difference between flip flops and sandals is the presence of a strap at the heel to provide ankle support. Without this strap, your shoes won't be secured to your feet causing the soles to "flip flop" while you walk. Simply put, you can get better foot support when wearing sandals. The ankle strap usually features metal buckles or Velcro. If you are planning a team building activity in Thailand, shoes with ankle support are a must.


When it comes to short-term comfort, you shouldn't have a problem choosing sandals or flip flops. Both provide breathability, perfect for relieving your feet from being enclosed in shoes all day at work. However, if you're planning on walking around wearing this type of footwear for an entire day, sandals are the far superior choice. This is because sandals often feature soles that have an ergonomic design. They are shaped to provide extra comfort since people typically use them for longer periods of time. Flip flops, on the other hand, have a thin, flat shape which can cause foot fatigue if worn for more than a few hours.


In the battle of sandals vs flip flops, the former is considered the more versatile when it comes to places and occasions to wear them. In fact, depending on the design, you can easily wear sandals in places where dress shoes are considered the appropriate attire. Some sandals are professional-looking enough that they can even be worn in the office.

Flip flops, on the other hand, are the epitome of casual footwear. Even if they feature a diamond-encrusted design, it can only be worn on casual occasions. They're the type you take with you when you plan on going on vacation, especially if it's to the beach. Flip flops, no matter who wears them, are not appropriate in certain settings.

Sandals or Flip Flops: It Comes Down to Preference

Obviously, there really are significant differences between sandals and flip flops. Enough to distinguish them from one another. Both types of footwear are perfect for wearing during warm weather. But they’re not interchangeable in terms of design, shape, support, and occasion. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to keep those differences in mind when you're choosing to buy a pair. At the end of the day, it’s all about your preference. Plus, there’s no reason why you can’t buy a pair of both.

Mariam Simmons

Mariam Simmons is a fashion enthusiast and Content Manager at Alpine Swiss. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful fashion and lifestyle guides. With over a decade of writing experience, her main goal in creating content is to ensure readers learn something useful and provide value instead of noise.