By Janet Kelly
Gone but not forgotten, high heels have been slipping into our rearview mirrors for a while now, especially so during the pandemic. But even pre-pandemic many of us were switching to sneakers for comfort and stability. Circa 2018, there were those clunky, “ugly,” very spendy sneakers from Prada and Balenciaga, as well as comeback classics from Adidas and Tretorn. Credit the athleisure trend. Then, fast forward to 2020 and Covid-19, with no place to go but from kitchen to living room to bedroom and back, and we settled into our cozy corners.
As we start to emerge this spring and summer, we’re asking ourselves what’s next. We’re betting on cautious optimism. City sidewalks are as good a place as any to gauge fashion temperatures and from what we’re noticing on the streets, women of all ages are still wearing sneakers, many of them preferring slip-on styles. That’s not new, but what is is those slip-ons are sporting floral, animal print and plaid patterns—an easy step up from sneakers but with the same comfort level. What appeals is they’re flat and have a thick, resilient sole to absorb the shock from concrete sidewalks. We’re looking at you, city dwellers.
Old-school brand Keds is getting on the bandwagon of easy-to-wear slip-ons, collaborating with high-profile brands like Kate Spade; Vans offers almost as many slip-on styles as traditional lace-ups on its website.
One thing to note: as we all feel the freedom of a return to a more normal way of life, it’s important not to go overboard when choosing shoe patterns and colors. For example, it may be best to avoid, say, a neon orange. If you do pick an exuberant pattern, keep the rest of your ensemble clean and simple.
Here, fourteen of our favorites.
LEFT: I’ve worn my Taos navy blue canvas slip-ons so much the fabric at the heel is tearing. (I also have a pair of lace-ups in saddle brown.) What I like is they just cradle your feet. Clearly, I’m a fan; but when I give my old ones up, I’m going for something less plain like this plaid but still subtle Dandy Slip On ($64.19, Amazon).
RIGHT: The Dandy Slip On ($89.95, Amazon) also comes in leather with a floral print for a step-into-summer-with-whimsy look.
BELOW: Keds is upping its sneaker game by teaming with different brands, including Rifle Paper, a Winter Park, Florida, stationery and lifestyle company. Here, the Double Decker ($69.95, Zappos) with the traditional Keds sneaker silhouette—in leather— is printed with the paper company’s signature, a fun floral print.
LEFT: Rothys takes plastic bottles from landfills and transforms them into the brand’s own thread, which is then knit into durable, washable and sustainable styles like this Blue Spot ($125) sneaker with a painterly leopard print.
RIGHT: Vogue is predicting that gingham will be one of this summer’s “breakout” prints, thanks to the likes of designers Rodarte, Altuzarra and Larroudé. Embrace your sweet side in a pair of Leo and Teddy Gingham Slip on Canvas Shoes ($65, Etsy).
LEFT: If you have a high instep, you’ll be grateful for the side zipper as you’re slipping on Dr. Scholl’s No Chill Platform ($49.99, DSW) in faux leather. A cushy footbed energizes tired feet.
RIGHT: How sporty and cute is this cherry-pink checkered print UA Classic Slip On from Vans ($30, Shopbop)?
TOP LEFT: This leopard print ($109.95) on calf’s hair, courtesy of a collaboration with Kate Spade NY, makes a, er, wildly wearable flat.
TOP RIGHT: Another Keds collaboration—with maternity brand Hatch—the Double Decker Bateau Stripe ($74.95) will work for any woman at any stage of her life. Note the ventilation holes for added breathability. It looks vintage French Riviera to us.
BOTTOM LEFT: Iconic Milan concept store Corso Como 10 that mixes fashion, design, art and culture and Turin-based sneaker brand Superga got together to produce these polka dot print statement Slip-On Sneakers ($146, Farfetch).
BOTTOM RIGHT: Cole Haan worked with the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Biomechanics Laboratory for its Grand Ambition collection, designed for optimum fit, feel and flexibility. We thought this one with a leather upper and a metallic toe detail looked rather spiffy ($170).
LEFT: Ever since my Pilates class instructor, a former dancer, heaped praises on her Skechers, I’ve been game to try a pair. If a backyard barbecue or cocktails on the patio are in the offing, say for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, what better way to celebrate a new normal than with the colorful and comfortable GoWalk Arch Fit Fiesta Fun Shoe ($80) with removable insole and lightweight cushioned midsole.
RIGHT: Pulled from the archives, the Gucci Tennis 1977 Slip On Sneaker ($630) is reimagined by creative director Alessandro Michele. Original details like heritage logo stitching meet jacquard denim. The red stripe on the sole seals the deal for a red, white and blue holiday weekend.
ABOVE: A brand-new style from Vans, these pony hair 53 DX Slip On Sneakers ($157, Farfetch) with a fluffy faux fur trim look a lot like loafers, yes? But a lot more flexible. And instead of the usual leather sole on loafers, they’ve got a chunky rubber one with a textured tread. For anyone not sure they want to transition from sneakers to loafers or flats just yet, here’s something in between.
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