Guys, and gals for that matter, have been debating this for decades. Well, atleast over the past two decades. And the answer? Well, it's not as simple as yes or no.
When searching for an answer on this topic, I got so many points of view… some said it was totally okay because the "manliest men" have been wearing them since the beginning of time: Roman gladiators, "Greek gods", African kings… even Jesus. While others look at men in sandals as downright feminine, saying things like "I don't wear anything that is considered women's clothing, that includes purses, skirts, and sandals." All the gentlemen wardrobe styling books tend to avoid the topic of men in sandals. And when a book does mention it, it either sternly objects it or indirectly snubs it. A friend told me that he once read a rule in Esquire Mag that stated, "You lose 61 percent of your respect for a man when you can see his toes through his shoes" (or something like that).
The issue of gentlemen wearing sandals is simply a matter of the traditional versus the nontraditional. The guy who chooses the traditional route should not expose his toes. Canvas lace-ups, decks shoes, loafers, and oxfords all worn sockless is how he keeps his feet cool in the summer months. Then the guy that chooses the nontraditional route should wear sandals that match his style. And let's be honest, we can mentally flip through our rolodex of friends and picture which friends can pull off sandals and which can't. The extremely environmentally conscious type, the world traveler type, and the vintage hipster type are a few groups I can see getting away with sandals.
The answer to the question is an unsure one. But whether traditional or nontraditional, flip-flops on the beach are just common sense. There is just such a broad range of sandals that the answer can't be clear cut (unfortunately). Enjoy the last weeks of summer and make a fashion statement to decide whether or not you'll be rocking sandals around the streets of B-town.