The Story Behind Flip Flops

History of Flip Flops
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The Story Behind Flip Flops
A pair of gold sandals of the "flip flop" variety, found in the tombs of the three minor wives of Thutmose 111, of the Ancient Egyptians.
Ancient Egyptian straw sandals.
A painting of Japanese men sitting under a tree and smoking, with flip-flop sandals nearby.
Japanese women in Washington, wearing the sandals that would soon sweep the U.S.
A portrait of a woman in a strapless sundress wearing flip flop sandals.
A young woman in a one-piece swimsuit relaxes on a beach, wearing the classic sandal.
Painter Ruth Kligman poses on a front porch in a polka dot jumpsuit and white flip flops.
A young Goldie Hawn poses at a boar marina, dressed in a ruffled top, white jeans and flip flop sandals.
Guests at the indoor pool at The Villa Maria hotel, the woman wearing flip flops, which were deemed perfect for the pool and the beach.
Rope sandals that had been discarded during the Wayakama festival in Japan.
Gisele Bundchen wears a cute patterned pair of flip flops at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood.
Ah, LiLo's glory days: on the set of 'Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen' in a simple pair of flops.
Jennifer Love Hewitt lounges in jeans and flip flops.
'Absolut Dahlsen' by John Dalshen (composed entirely of discarded flip flops from Australia's beaches!) was unveiled at the opening of the '2004 Sculpture By The Sea' exhibition in Sydney.
You know it as well as we do: the Old Navy flip flop wall. 
Charlize Theron wore a fancy pair of flip flops to the premiere of 'Hancock' in Hollywood.
All of the models in the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show received a pair of pink flops to wear while getting ready in their matching robes.
Jennifer Aniston wears a pair of classic black flip flops while out and about in NYC.

It's one of the most basic items in your closet, but it has a long history. The name "flip flop" comes specifically from the sound the sandals make when they slap between the sole of your foot and the floor.

This particular type of sandal originated as early as the Ancient Egyptians in 4000 BC, and the oldest known pair is on display at the British Museum from 1500 BC. This pair is made from papyrus, but just as a huge variety of cultures have worn these sandals through the years, they've used a great variety of materials.

Papyrus and palm leaves were the most common materials used in Ancient Egypt, while rawhide was the material of choice among the Masai of Africa. In India, these sandals were mostly made with wood, and many used rice straw in China and Japan. Of course, in modern times, most cultures have moved to leather, rubber and other sturdier textiles.

What we know of as the modern flip flop gained popularity in the United States after the end of World War II. They are derived from the Japanese zōri, which soldiers brought back to the States with them. During the postwar boom, Americans started to design flip flops in new bright colors and patterns, wearing them for their convenience and comfort. In the 1960s, they became primarily known as a part of the casual beach lifestyle of California.

Havaianas, a classic and well-known brand, was created in 1962 in Brazil by the country's largest footwear brand Alpargatas. By 2010, more than 150 million pairs of the sandals were being produced per year. Rainbow Sandals -- a favorite for many -- were created in a garage in Laguna Beach, CA during the early 1970s, and have become well known as a dependable pair that doesn't wear down easily. They are now offered in a variety of styles, and the company produces over 2 million pairs every year.

Flip flops are a popular choice among people of all ages, typically worn in casual settings. Younger generations tend to feel it's okay to wear them to formal events, while older generations reportedly feel this is a sign of laziness and choosing comfort over style. We have to agree that basic flops shouldn't be worn to fancy events, but we've seen some pretty stylish (and bedazzled) styles that can definitely be considered "dressed up."

Whether you're wearing a pair of classic rubber flops or a leather pair with pretty detailing, you know the necessity of these sandals for every individual's wardrobe. Click through the gallery above to see a history of flip flops in photographs!
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