Andrew Stuttaford of National Review Online points out this year’s creepiest new fashion for men: the “dinner” sandal: an upscale male toe-barer that allows a guy to feel like a hippie and still spend a status-dripping $345 on flip-flops. The New York Times, as might be expected, is ga-ga over the fad, and NYT fashion writer David Colman regales readers with photos of dainty guy-sized slides and rope sandals bearing labels from Prada, Gucci, and Yves St. Laurent that he maintains are perfectly suitable for the office and the upscale restaurant. But please–don’t give my husband a pair for Father’s Day!

Believe me, my husband and I can be ultimate slobs at certain times and in certain places–that is to say, at home working or lounging around on evenings or weekends. My usual summer uniform for writing this blog, for example, is a pair of bluejeans and some coral-pink, rubber-soled “jelly” thongs that I picked up at The Gap for $14 and are useful for doing the laundry in as well. My husband dons Eddie Bauer flip-flops on Saturday mornings

But when it comes to the office or social events, he puts on, uh, shoes and socks, while I, for summer outings, dip into my enormous collection (I admit it–I’ve got an Imelda complex!) of designer mules with delicate heels and teeny across-the-toe straps. There’s a reason for the different footwear. It’s called biology. That is, the difference between the way male and female humans look. The naked human foot is not a particularly pretty thing. But on a woman, it can look sexy–redolent of stepping barefoot into the boudoir, and of clothing elsewhere that might be removed–if it is properly buffed with toe-polishes and pedicures. It helps, too, that we gals shave our legs. But guys? Just for starters, their feet are humongous! Looking down someone’s trouser creases at a pair of big toes the size of cucumbers is not an erotic experience. Of course, guys should keep their feet clean and pare their toenails. But that doesn’t do much for the foot-hair.

The simple fact is that men look best when they conceal as much of their bodies as possible. That’s why the tux looks dashing, and why the coat and tie (shirt buttoned up to the neck) are de rigeur business attire. Consider how quickly “casual Friday” for men came and went in urban centers, as soon as $600-an-hour Wall Street lawyers realized that they looked like beached walruses in their turtlenecks. Women look alluring in decolletage, but men don’t. A pair of nice legs revealed by a pair of shorts? Fine for women, but unacceptable for men in all but the most casual settings.

Of course such distinctions are lost at the New York Times, where gender differences are regarded as “social constructions” and a unisex mindset–the sensitive, macho-averse “new male”–is part of the propaganda. Not only does Colman promote the dinner sandal for men; he sends them tripping to the nail parlor, just like their wives and girlfriends, to make their tootsies more delicate and vulnerable-looking. Writes Colman:

“If more bare feet were presentable, perhaps there would be less to fear. Which raises the inevitable question of the pedicure, to which the answer, unfortunately, is yes.

“Unless you have your emery-board skills down and are ready to shell out for an industrial-strength foot file (a serious buffer with a diamond-sided rasp is $36 at to keep the heels, balls and sides of your feet as polished as your hubcaps, you should swallow your pride and head to the salon, once a month, for the summer.”
Uh-uh, I don’t think so. In my house at any rate, real men don’t get pedicures.