Professionals don’t wear flip-flops because they aren’t real shoes. Real shoes possess a top, a bottom, and have sides. People cannot see your entire foot if you’re wearing a Real Shoe.
Real Shoes are professional. Wear them when you go to work. Unless your real job is working as a life guard. Then you should be bare footed. Because if you wear flip-flops while on the pool deck or beachfront, you might trip and fall and won’t be able to save someone’s life in a timely manner. When you’re a life guard time is of the essence, and you need to be able to move with swiftness. Flip-flops disallow this. They interfere. People can drown.
If you are a nurse: don’t wear flip-flops. If you’re a firefighter: no flip-flops. If you’re a banker: don’t.
If you’re a teacher, a salesperson, an accountant, a politician, a baker… it. does. not. matter.
Flip flops are made of cheap rubber or foam: this equates to Not Professional, no matter how you describe it, explain it, tweak it, interpret it or try to convince yourself or those around you. “Those” who are likely wearing Real Shoes, and you know that they are wondering why you are not doing the same. The won’t say it, maybe. But they are thinking it. You know it, and I know it. And they know it. We all know it.
You can tell yourself “But I am good at what I do. Who cares what shoes I have on?” If this were true to you, I mean, in your heart-of-hearts you believed this with every cell in your being …. then you would justify wearing clear 6-inch-heel stripper shoes to work. Or cupcake slippers. Or ballet toe shoes. Or cleats. Heck, why not wear Sabatons? (Don’t know what that means? A Sabaton is part of the knight’s suit of armor. They consist of riveted iron plates on the boots.)
Professionals dress a certain way to display that they are at work. Work denotes You Are Not On Your Own Time. If you are being paid to be there, dress like it. Act like it. Don’t dress like you were out running errands at the local ‘Mart and decided “You know, I think I will just stop by this classroom and work for eight hours inspiring and molding the minds of our future, and then continue where I left off in the toothbrush aisle.” It doesn’t work that way. You may be in the toothbrush aisle in flip-flops, but you should never be at work dressed as if you were toothbrush shopping.
I always say “If you wouldn’t wear it to an interview don’t wear it if you want to keep your job.” And then … recently someone came into an interview I was co-facilitating, and as I stood up and reached out my hand to shake hers my eyes caught by periphery vision that she indeed was wearing them. Toothbrush Shopping Shoes. I froze. I smiled and said “How … nice to meet you.” I sat down and fought the urge to look at her feet. I could still see them. In my periphery. I cursed my eyes for having the vision of the Reticulated Giraffe. While looking straight at her face, I was focussed on the bookcase to my left, and counted all 128 books on the 7 shelves, each title and author on their spines. I read the calendar over the back of her head and read the in font of 6 that on Thursday there would be a full moon, all with my periphery vision. Why would she wear these pieces of foam today? She wanted this job, right?
She was not hired.
I didn’t have the final word for that particular candidate, but my co-facilitator saw my face and knows my strong opinion of the Flop. I am pretty sure had she suggested we hire the young lass who was shoe challenged, well, I might have flipped a table or something. In fact, when the offender of shoe protocol left the room and the door was quietly closed behind her, I only had to look in the direction of my co-interviewer to see her smile. She wasn’t looking at me. She was shuffling some papers on her desk. She knew. I knew. Flops are unacceptable footwear for an interview. The name says it all: “Flip. Flop.”
I think I would rather see someone walk in with Kleenex boxes on their feet. Kleenex boxes cover the foot. And they come in such pretty designs nowadays. I am fond of the soft floral prints. Its ‘Shabby Chic’. That would be a real conversation starter. It says “This person is innovative and fun”, instead of “This person was looking for a new toothbrush and stopped by for a minute.”