Ideal Summer Sandals

Best Summer Sandals

I know I may be getting ahead of myself, but it was 80 degrees and sunny in Southern California this past Saturday and it got me thinking.

Do you have a fashion image you have pinned on Pinterest and just keep coming back to, over and over again? This one’s mine. There’s something about this combination of cropped, slim army-green pants, tanned feet, and natural leather, gladiator sandals that says summer to me. And it’s what I’d like to be wearing come warmer days. Pretty please.

I think Gap and Jcrew have some pants that might fit the bill. The right sandals, however, can be more elusive. I’ve done some sleuthing…
[Note: the rest of this post has been updated as of July 2015]



A category I can’t seem to quit (and have no desire to, really). I love gladiators, especially with pants. I personally think they’re tough to pull off with shorts or skirts unless you love your legs (as you should, of course, but not all of us do). If you are not blessed with (or haven’t achieved) very long, toned legs and you plan to wear them with shorts, play around with where the ankle strap falls (visually cutting your leg) to find the most flattering pair. Note: straps that form a V-shape on the top of your foot are often what makes a sandal look more like a “comfort sandal,” should that be something you want to avoid (example).

Topshop / JCrew / Topshop / Timberland / Born / Ancient Greek Sandals

The Topshop pair look pretty darn perfect to me—in gold or brown—and are reasonably priced. Plus, what’s great about this style of gladiator, where they lace up, is that you can eventually replace the leather strap. It’s much harder to replace a broken buckle strap. The Ancient Greek pair are of course awesome (as seen on Michelle Williams) but they’re the most expensive of the bunch. Beyond that, I might wait to get a handmade pair in the East Village from the master of leather sandals.



Another one of my favorite categories. In this camp, it’s hard to best the Saltwater—inexpensive, classic, waterproof, blister-free, and matchable to your kids—but I also love the Madewell Crisscross for its slightly more adult look (thinner straps and a narrower footbed). Ancient Greek Sandal’s version is likewise more sophisticated but, again, a lot more expensive. (The Madewell is 30% off.) I’ve also heard favorable things about Topshop’s Haven (but it only comes in black) and the Bass Joanne sandal, but haven’t tried either. The Bass comes in multiple colors, adjusts at the toe-box, and has a very comfortable footbed. But it’s suede and I’m a bit anti-suede because it inevitably gets gross. I’ve walked miles in both the Saltwater and the Crisscross, so these are my go-to travel shoes. Clogs are on the fringe of this category; they’re down below.

Madewell / Ancient Greek Sandals / Kork-Ease / Topshop / Saltwater / Bass



Cross-strap slides are all the rage right now. I admire their simplicity and am tempted to try an inexpensive pair, but I tend to want a strap if I’m walking a lot. Because they’re so trendy, you can find them in every price range. From Loeffler Randall’s and Ancient Greek’s versions around $200 to Old Navy’s at $22. Of the ones pictured, I own the Birkenstock Madrids (which now come in a waterproof EVA version) and two pairs of the Worishofers, which are both comfort shoes.

Birkenstock /  Kaanas / Lucky / Madewell / Worishofer / Dune

Sidenote: Rainbow makes my favorite beach flip-flop. And my favorite T-strap is the Birkenstock Gizeh.



Huaraches, Avarcas, D’Orsay style, and other fun staples

I lived in a pair of Madewell D’Orsay sandals last summer in Italy. I still wear them all the time, but they don’t carry them anymore. If I were picking out a new pair today, I’d go for one of the fun colors in the Franco Sarto line.

Steve Madden / Franco Sarto / Old Navy / Frye / Sweedish Hasbeens / Soludos / And a rainbow of Avarca Pons

One note about D’Orsays: they have a full heel and so often give folks blisters. Break them in slowly. The sling-strap on the Soludos or the Avarcas tends to be more forgiving to the new wearer. A similar word of caution for the Sweedish Hasbeens: The leather is super-stiff. I wore mine around the house with socks one night to loosen them up!



Finally, for many, these are probably your idea travel sandals because they do everything, but I tend to prefer to relegate them to camping and river trips. Chacos are probably the best-in-class winner, but Teva’s are less expensive if you’re not wearing them often and they’ve had a bit of a resurgence ever since they released them in white and pastel tones.

Phew. Are you still reading? There are so many more great sandals. I didn’t even include T-Straps or anything with a toe loop. But these are my favorites.

What are yours? 

P.S. As I was putting this together I realized that Nordstrom’s HUGE Anniversary sale is starting. If you’re a Nordstrom’s member you can shop it now. If you’re not, you can preview it and then shop beginning July 17. The sale is their biggest of the year and features new fall items along with plenty from summer. Many of these are sold there, so perhaps they will be discounted right now.

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