Fashion & Beauty

A Sweet Sixteen: Summer Shoe-Ins

June 21, 2022

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Sandals for every occasion. Clockwise, from left to right: Teva’s Infinity sandal, Staud’s flatform espadrille, a juicy heel from Kate Spade New York, JW Anderson’s metallic slip-on and Jeffrey Campbell’s jelly flip-flop.

By Janet Kelly

FEET EVERYWHERE are celebrating, wiggling their toes with joy—free at last from confining footwear.

Now that you’ve aced—right?— your warm-weather wardrobe musts—hat, sun shirts, sunscreen— it’s time to complete the picture with stylish summer sandals.

A problem you may face is that there are soooo many choices. Flip-flops, slides, pool slides, flatforms, fisherman sandals, sport sandals, strappy sandals, low-heel sandals, wedges and espadrilles. Phew!

But listen, whichever style or silhouette you favor, we’ve done the legwork—from Birkenstocks to Blahniks, from Johnny Was to Ganni—to pick out the footwear that will let your toes breathe—no blisters, thank you—and give your feet the support and comfort they deserve.

Note—you already know this. But to flaunt and flatter your feet, don’t forget a pedicure. Because there’s nothing more boring than watching paint dry, find a salon that offers the Dazzle Dry regimen or DIY with the 4-step full-size kit ($85), which includes a primer, a base coat, polish and a top coat. (A mini kit is $38. The polish only sells for $22.)  Your nails are dry before you can finish a fascinating article in one of the salon’s magazines or rise to genius level in Spelling Bee.

CLOCKWISE, from left to right: Have some fun and a giggle with these traffic-stopping diagonal striped flip flops ($190, Farfetch). From late designer Virgil Abloh’s Off-White brand, they raise the traditional style up to a one-inch height. Lara espadrille Sandals (reduced to $245 from $350, Staud) are flatforms —the style you’ve been seeing everywhere this summer—the sole is equally or almost equally thick at the front and back. Crisscrossed ankle straps, a side buckle and rubber sole secure feet that have a tendency to slip in slides. Also popular this season are the square toes seen on Staud’s espadrilles and on Sam Edelman’s Harlie slide sandals ($150, Bloomingdale’s). Their relaxed vibe would feel right at home on the Italian Riviera. Wear them with a pair of linen cropped pants.


ABOVE: I own a pair of these “mixed-media” sandals with a cork lining and grippy rubber sole. They’re from Mephisto, a brand known for its commitment to comfort. I bought them because they fit my narrowish foot better than the Birkenstock sandals I originally was smitten with. My only gripe is that the top loop is slightly irritating, but I’m hoping with more wear it will soften.  They’re $159 at Nordstrom.

BELOW: On the sensible and functional side, fisherman sandals have been an unexpected trend this summer. With their woven uppers and heavy-duty rubber soles, you could presumably walk miles. Although I think the style defeats the purpose of an open-toe sandal—unless, maybe, you’re an actual rod and reeler—Marni’s grosgrain sandals ($490, SSense) manage to make the look as cute as possible.


ABOVE: The first time I thought Birkenstocks looked anything but dowdy was about six years ago when I saw a woman at a trendy local bar wearing a chunky white-patent leather double-strap style with a pair of slim, cropped pants. On the less expensive side and more versatile for the season, these Arizona Essentials EVA ($49.95, Birkenstock) are modeled on the original, but because they’re made from EVA (a more flexible rubber), they’re lighter, more pliable and shock-absorbent than PVC. They’re also waterproof and washable—perfect footwear for the beach or in the garden.

BELOW: Less bulky than Birkenstocks, Teva’s Voya infinity sandal ($40, Amazon), embraced by the Olsen twins, is designed with a top-sole cushion that conforms to and comforts your foot; adjustable, soft, stretchy elastic lacing for easy on and off and a lightweight foam outsole. For outdoorsy types who like to hike and for the rest of us pounding our way along city streets.

LEFT: I couldn’t survive without my black suede kitten heels in fall and winter, but these velvety suede Arthur sandals in pink would add a pop to my mostly all-white summer wardrobe. Moreover, I think I could manage that 2-inch-high block heel, especially because they have a rubber sole. They’re $210 from French label Sézane.

RIGHT: Leave it to the birds and the bees and Johnny Was for colorful flora and fauna prints. Made from PVC rubber, this Sandra pool slide ($98) is must-have footwear for beach walking or lounging. Wear them with your favorite swimsuit, a kaftan or beachy linen pants and a white T-shirt.


ABOVE: An acrylic rectangular heel and square toe balance Schulz’s slide sandal ($128), topped with translucent vinyl straps. An of-the-moment style to wear day or night, the 2.5-inch heel is also available in pink; in a loftier 3.9-inch heel, it comes in beige, shell pink and lime green.

CENTER: Beloved by fans back in the day, Dr. Scholl’s original handcrafted wooden sandal with its signature buckle gets a refreshing twist, courtesy of Danish brand Ganni. Shown above in an all-cotton monogram print, it also comes in four others, including a preppy plaid. The Ganni slide sandal sells for $215.

BELOW: From Kate Spade New York, the label that brought you yellow patent leather taxi flats, comes a juicy pair of sandals with grosgrain straps and an 2.25-inch citrus-shaped acrylic heel. These sell for $178.


ABOVE: JW Anderson’s leather chain slide sandals ($695, Neiman Marcus) are oh-so pretty with that pink metallic leather band—and, yes, equally pricey—but for the record, they also marry good looks with practical details, such as a molded footbed and rubber outsole for comfort and stability. They can dress up the most casual outfit and will certainly put a smile in your step.

BELOW: A super-slim, barely there profile brings a sleek elegance to this retro (circa 1990s) jelly sandal with delicate straps and  square toe. It’s $29.95 at Nordstrom.

Lunch at the White House? If you’re invited, by all means, but more probably for an afternoon or evening wedding this summer, Manolo Blahnik’s patent leather sandals (above) are the height of elegance, even though the flared kitten heel is barely two inches high. Flattering curved side straps and a rear slingback strap keep your foot firmly in place for a carefree dance or two for a  very spendy $825. For dressier occasions and a more fanciful look, this 1.8-inch high strappy kitten sandal (below) in rose-gold leather also promises stability and optimal fit —based on a surgeon’s expertise in foot anatomy. They sell for $550 at Marion Parke.





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4 thoughts on “A Sweet Sixteen: Summer Shoe-Ins

  1. Nancy G says:

    Wait a minute. I can’t wear my $2.50 Old Navy flip flops anymore??? Actually, just bought a pair of Tory Burch lookalikes at DSW, less than $50 and really comfy. Those are my “good” sandals.

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Of course you can wear those flip-flops. But wearing them a lot for a year caused me a lot of foot pain. So, I no longer wear flip-flops, though I love them.

  2. So many pretty ones. Thanks for helping me out of tennis shoes for a while!

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      You already have great sandals, but looking is always fun.

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