If there’s anything the past couple years have taught us, it’s that we can live without a pedicure and regular root touch-ups. But one thing’s for sure… we all need a great pair of shoes (or two… or three…). So if you’re still planning on skipping those pedis (it’s OK, we won’t tell!) or your feet are just beat to heck (well, life), we’ve got you covered (literally!)
With summer here (or almost here, depending on where you live), it’s the perfect time to shop for summer shoes, now that retailers are stocking up and the selection is plentiful. It’s true, you’ll find better deals near the end of summer, as that’s when summer footwear hits the clearance section. But, if you want to maximize your options in all the sizes and styles your family needs, it’s best to start shopping early for sandals, water shoes and other summer staples.
First off, let’s talk about shoe trends:
Trend 1: Sandals and socks
Trend 2: Platforms
Altuzarra and Versace took shoes to new heights with bold platforms meant to elevate your spring and summer style game. Platforms keep on coming back because women want the height but with more stability than a high heel. Find them in clogs, sandals and even flip flops.
Trend 3: Embellished Flip-Flops
Comfort still rules in the wake of the Covid pandemic so designers took note and offered that, but with a twist. Stella McCartney and Roger Vivier both showed flip-flops but with ornate and bejeweled details. Who said these comfy staples have to be boring?
Trend 4: Block Heels
Keeping with the comfort theme, Chanel and Prada took the low road with baby, kitten and block heels. Look for these stabilizing shoes in sandals, sling backs, mules and more.
Trend 5: Slippers and Fuzzy Slides
Many of us have been working from home for a while now, so it’s no surprise designers are making us feel “at home!” Balenciaga and Gabriela Hearst showed “house slipper”-style slides meant to be worn anywhere and everywhere. The Best part about this trend is it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money so just have fun with it!
Finding the best style for your feet
Now that we’ve got the trends to watch for, you can shop for the styles that’ll most flatter your feet.
If you have wide feet, it’s more than just looking for a shoe that offers a wide width. You want to give feet a slimmer appearance, too. Look for:
- A rounded toe box as opposed to pointy.
- A wide enough footbed (so sides of feet aren’t hanging over the edges).
- A “thong” style sandal or some sort of detailing through the middle of the foot, to draw the eye inward.
If you have bunions, hammer toes or corns, that’s just not a good look. Here’s what to look for to mask those unsightly bumps:
- Try a water sandal or shoe, as an alternative to a flip-flop at the beach. No one will be the wiser!
- Mules are great for masking toes but still keeping feet cool. Be sure to rub deodorant across the tops of toes before wearing to prevent friction and any future corns!
- Decorative shoe clips – such as a large bow or flower – can be great for clipping onto a peep toe to avoid a peep show!
If you have toenail fungus, you’ll definitely want to draw attention away from the tips of your toes!
- Try heels or anything with a little height…it’ll put more attention on legs, and less on toes!
- Fungus thrives in warm areas like inside sweaty socks or hot shoes. So look for shoes with straps, slits or perforations and let those puppies breathe!
- Look for a square toe box that offers room to breathe and doesn’t press or rub against toes.
If you have cracked heels, try this:
- A d’orsay style shoe that is open on the sides, but covers toes and heels.
- An espadrille with a padded footbed that offers comfort for cracked heels and covers them at the same time!
- A bright white sneaker worn with socks that have a silicone lining to help keep moisture in the skin and repair heels while you walk!
Here’s our guide to THE BEST shoes you’ve gotta get this summer, whether they’re for hiking, the beach or a night out on the town (socially distanced, of course).
Best Summer Sandals Overall
There’s no doubt it’s the year of the ‘Birk’ – the much beloved sandal has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent seasons and is now even sported with socks. Birkenstocks may be a bit of an investment, but your feet will thank you.
Why We Love It: These shoes are made for walking. Birks are made for comfort and arch support, with their contoured cork footbed and extra padding. We chose this thong-style as an alternative to the traditional two buckle-Birk, which has a more flattering design to make wide feet look slimmer.
Promising Review: “Very comfortable sandals! Never thought I’d actually own a pair of Birkenstocks, but glad I did!” –Tina
Best White Sneakers
Nike Air Force 1 Pixel
Nelly sang a song about these – and it’s easy to see why. In an updated version with a platform, the Nike Air Force 1 Pixels will be your go-to white shoe this summer. Try them out with the sneakers-and-dress trend, a pair of joggers or your favorite jean short cut-offs.
Why We Love It: More than a running shoe, if we’re going to spend $100 bucks, we want a little bit of versatility in a sneaker. This one has just that, as it works just as well with a tracksuit as it does with a dress. Plus, it offers the quality and fit that Nike is famous for.
Promising Review: “These are super cute and basically go with everything! Absolutely love them!” – Vidalys
Rothy’s The Loafer
You’ve surely seen the Rothy’s “roll.” They’re shoes so supple you can literally roll them up, as they’re knit from the brand’s signature sustainable thread that’s spun from plastic water bottles. The days of “breaking in” shoes are a thing of the past, making these worth the splurge.
Why We Love It: What’s not to love about a loafer? The style is timeless and seasonless. This is a new-age take, with its eco-friendly approach to shoe-making. You can feel good wearing them, literally and figuratively. Plus, they come in lots of fun colors and prints – we opted for the camo which provides a great “cover” (see what we did there?) for beat-up feet!
Promising Review: “So comfy. Lots of compliments!” – Michele S.
Best for Summer Shoes for Comfort
Steve Madden Slinky30 Flatform Wedge Sandals
(Eminem Voice): Guess who’s back… back again! If you were a teen or twenty-something in the ’90s, you certainly sported a pair of these Steve Madden staples. And like everything else retro these days, the brand has brought these back for your comfort and enjoyment (as a bonus, the stretchy top part covers most of your foot!)
Why We Love It: These give you a boost (shout-out to all my short girls!), but because of the platform bottom, they won’t make you wobbly on your feet (unless you’ve had one too many). Plus, they go with everything.
Promising Review: “I saw one of my favorite influencers get these and knew I had to get them for myself. Once I got them and wore them, I loved them! They are super comfy and cute!” –Radhika P.
Best Ballet Flats
Hush Puppies Chaste Ballet
Ballet flats are like the workhorse of the shoe world – they get major points for their versatility, comfort and timelessness. This pair claims to “conform” to your foot, and has an elasticized collar so they won’t slip off when you walk. The elastic and leather combo also makes this a great option for wide feet as it’ll offer lots of “give.”
Why We Love It: A rubber outsole and cushioned insole make Hush Puppies a winning choice from work to play. They also come in a wide width to help keep you blister-free. Choose from a basic black ballet, a leopard-print pair or even studded for a bit of flair.
Promising Review: “Finally some flats for my Flintstone feet. So comfortable, awesome price point compared to the “blue bottom” brand and finally a wide so I don’t have to squeeze into a pair of flats to break them in. These were super comfortable right out of the box. I have 2 pair and plan on purchasing more.” – Tooth Sleuth
KUDOSALE Peep Toe Espadrilles
Not all Espadrilles are created equal! Peep this KUDOSALE pair that offers a little extra flair – a furry pouf, just for fun! Plus, the peep toes make them a breezier alternative to standard Espadrilles.
Why We Love It: At under $20, there’s a whole lot of style packed into this pair. They’re lightweight, comfortable and because of the ankle strap, will stay put.
Promising Review: “The fit is great and the soles are comfy. You can turn the strap all the way around so that the buckle is wherever you want it. Great for around the house! The price was also great.” – Karina
Linen-Blend Mule Flats
The ultimate transitional closed-toe shoe usually reserved for heading into cooler temps gets a warm-weather makeover thanks to the lighter canvas fabric. A mule is easy to slip on and complements nearly every look.
Why We Love It: At under $25 a pair from Old Navy, this is an affordable but stylish shoe choice. Best of all, no one will know if you skipped that pedi (just remember to put some cream on those cracked heels!) Oh, and it’s also Recommended to go up half a size in mules so your foot’s not hanging off the back, especially ones like these, with a pointed toe.
Promising Review: “This flats are a spring/summer essential. They look dressy for work and relaxed for after hours. Clean, sleek staple with dresses or pants. Great purchase.” –anonymous
Best Dressy Sandals
Simply Vera Wang Cotinga Block Heel
Block heel? Check. Strappy style? Check. These Simply Vera Wang heels check all the boxes when it comes to on-trend footwear this season. Black, white, you’ll want a pair in both colors.
Why We Love It: Just like a pair of stilettos, block heels look great with just about anything, from skinny jeans to dresses and even with wide-leg trousers – but unlike its skinnier counterpart, they still keep your feet firmly planted on the ground.
Promising Review: “My first Vera Wang purchase – love it ! Got these in Black …Looks beautiful and unbelievably comfortable – didn’t know VW makes such good shows – definitely going to look into more of her products.” – DateNiteGirl
Best Summer Shoes for Kids
KEEN Kids Seacamp II
What do you get when you cross a sneaker with a sandal? The KEEN Seacamp II. It’s the perfect summer hybrid shoe for kids as they go about their day, whether they’re playing in puddles, at the park, on the playground or at home.
Why We Love It: The washable polyester webbing on this unisex style shoe makes this a durable choice for all types of activities and the rubber sneaker-like bottom means less slips and falls.
Promising Review: “…Every time the kids outgrow their size, this is the shoe we re-order over and over again. Even after months of use, no matter how rough the play, these shoes always (ALWAYS!) manage to hold their shape and brand-new look. They are waterproof and can be washed. We hike in them, play at the beach, park, whatever… These shoes are indestructible and absolutely amazing. If only all products were made this well.” – Anonymous
Best Summer Shoes for Men
Sperry Billfish 3-Eye Boat Shoe
This classic Sperry boat shoe offers a sporty vibe that is just as stylish on land as it is at sea. Guys love its versatility, but also the comfort it provides as a dressier alternative to sneakers.
Why We Love It: At under $100, this will be his go-to shoes for the summer. He can slip them on with shorts, slacks or jeans. “Being able to be paired perfectly with a pair of chinos, shorts, or chambray shirts, boat shoes are a go-to classic for men looking to have the grip of a sneaker while enjoying a good inflow of air through their many grommets and often mesh and leather construction,” explains Tools of Men.
Promising Review: “Wonderful, well made, comfortable shoe. I wear them everyday, everywhere! This is my third pair. The quality and workmanship is the same or better than my first pair which I still have. It’s hard to say goodbye!” – Denny
Crocs Kadee II
If you’re a fan of Crocs for comfort but don’t love the way they look, behold the Crocs Kadee flip-flop. It’s got that famous Crocs cloud-like foam (waterproof too, so it’s suitable for the beach or pool) but in a flip-flop style. Plus, it comes in several colors and at this price, you can afford to buy a few!
Why We Love It: Cheaper than the price of a pair of standard-style Crocs, you can have the Crocs name and comfort. The design is simple, so this style will take you from the beach to lunch and even stash easily in your purse for a quick change.
Promising Review: “These flip flops fit great and are very comfortable” – Marie
Best Sporty Sandals
Teva Original Universal Sandal
Originally created as a “hiking sandal,” these sporty shoes quickly became a fan favorite for the trail and beyond. With an eye-catching strappy design and water-friendly finish, these fabric and foam flats will be your go-to when the sun is out.
Why We Love It: Whether your summer takes you to the beach, the mountain or your own backyard, this sandal is designed for all-terrain wear. You can choose from fun colors and prints for the straps (we liked this multi-colored design for versatility) and at under $50, pick up more than one!
Promising Review: “I wear these all the time. Super comfy and cute” – Ashton