It’s that time of the season when your favorite sandals are looking worn out and you’re ready for a new everyday pair. But let’s face it, the shoe department can feel like a reasoning and decision-making exam. Not only are you juggling price and size, but also the style versus comfort dilemma. Do you pick the fashionable pair that will reside in your closet forever? Or the comfortable pair you won’t be seen wearing outside the house?
When choosing a sandal, you want one that is both comfortable and fashionable. After all, nobody wants to stress about aching feet, chafing or blisters. So we consulted with fashion experts and podiatrists to find the best sandals for comfort and style enthusiasts alike.
$139.95 at Naot
Who doesn’t love this classic double strap design? Dr. Elizabeth Daughtry
, who specializes in podiatric medicine, loves the adjustable straps, cushioned suede footbed and especially the sole on this sandal. “The EVA sole is supportive and has an anatomic cork and latex footbed,” she says. “This allows for arch support and molding to the individual’s foot structure. EVA is an elastic material that is considered one of the best shock-absorbing materials on the market today.” The brand makes a style for men
$139.95 at Naot
Take everything great about the Santa Barbaras, but make them vegan! Whether you follow a vegan lifestyle or not, these slides are stylish, comfortable and supportive. Daughtry recommends them for travel because they’re light and easily packable.
As if the modern futuristic style isn’t enough, the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) actually gave this sandal their own Seal of Acceptance. “Aside from a cushiony sole, the bottom of the sandal is shaped like the bottom of a boat,” Dr. Sophia Solomon
says. “This allows your foot to rock from heel to toe in one smooth motion and minimizes shock on the knees and ankles.”
When you think of comfy-cute sandals, Birkenstocks
probably immediately come to mind. But did you know they’re also good for your feet? According to Solomon, “Birkenstocks are still one of the best options out there due to a few attributes. The deep heel cup and arch support stabilizes the heel, prevents excess pronation and distributes your weight across a larger surface area. The metatarsal pad helps alleviate forefoot pain, or metatarsalgia, by shifting the weight further back in your foot.”
Ah, how we’ve loved the return of the Croc! Jane Francis
, a multidisciplinary designer with 35 years of experience in the fashion industry, vouches for them too. “The mix of high and low is always a winning formula in fashion,” she says. “I love how wearers of all ages and genders can personalize their Crocs.” In case you need inspiration, Jane has her Crocs decked out with chains, crystals and designer logos.
These Oofos sandals
have stuck around for good reason: For those with heel pain (and those without), the foam cushion provides support and reduces shock. Plus, the Ooriginal thong style, which is an Underscored editor’s favorite, is made with a nonslip footbed making them suitable for wet conditions. Rain or shine, you don’t need to worry about sliding around.
If you walk a lot and don’t want to trade style for comfort, check out these Cole Haan sandals. Walking long distances on New York City pavement is what led Carolina Obregón
, a lecturer at the Parsons School of Design, to seek out these gems.
We have yet another Birkenstock recommendation, this time for the securely-fitting Milano model, which comes in plenty of solids and patterns. Stone Hubbard
, footwear and accessories design technologist at the Fashion Institute of Technology, loves the suede cork base. “I like the Milano Birkenstock because they are stylish like the classic Arizona model and have an orthopedic cork and jute footbed,” he says. “They provide great arch support and fit securely with the back heel strap.”
Have you heard the term ‘gorpcorp’? It's a trend that focuses on utility and functionality. For fashion, leather and textile expert Tjacob Hooker, who holds an MFA from the Fashion Institute of Technology, Chacos are the way to go. “I gravitate towards more ‘gorpcorp’ brands because of their respect for the human body,” he says. “Their design ethos is committed to ergonomics and continual use.” Other brands he recommends include Birkenstock
$150 $112.98 at Sorel
How could something so fashionable be comfortable? These part-espadrille, part-wedge sandals are the lift you need to elevate any look. Obregón describes them as elegant enough for any occasion, but you can still walk for miles and miles.
$139.95 at Naot
If you’re looking for a sandal that can be easily dressed up, you’re going to want to check out the Naot Kayla style. It does have a small heel, but your feet won’t be aching. The cork and latex footbed conforms to your foot while the deep heel cup adds stability. According to Dr. Timothy Oldani
, a foot and ankle specialist, stability is really important when considering a sandal. “The more stable, the less movement, which means less pain and opportunity for blisters,” he says.
$55 From $38.99 at Merrell
This is considered a hiking shoe, but it’s just as stylish off the trail. Hooker loves the unibody style of this durable slip-on. For an environmentally conscious choice, there’s the vegan-friendly version called Hydro Moc with Bloom
$130 $97.98 at Sorel
For fashion designer Alla Eizenberg
, the gold standard sandal comes from Celine. She loves the Sorel Kinetic Wedge Sandals for their neat look, reasonable price and high quality. “I wore them on my recent vacation to Italy and South France,” she says. “I walked around extensively and they endured the medieval cobblestone streets with grace.” The neon accent colors and chunky platform style make a remarkable team. Her other recommendation? You guessed it: a Birkenstock in any style.
You can’t go wrong with this Nike staple. “The Jordan brand successfully straddles the line between fashion and function, loved by both athletes and the everyday consumer,” says Angela Finochio, a Fashion Institute of Technology classroom assistant. You’ll want to wear these sporty, lightweight sandals everywhere — if you aren’t already. “The rise of athleisure fashion increased the popularity of the slide silhouette, a casual style now found in many high fashion collections,” she says. “Wearing them with socks is completely acceptable and creates an opportunity to style one's look depending on the sock color, pattern and length choice.”