Warm weather brings the need for solid summer sandals. And with the hopes for a pre-pandemic-like summer season running high, we’d wager you’re in the market for a few new pairs. Luckily, plenty of flat styles and heels are as stylish as they are practical.
We’re still seeing padded leather insole slingbacks, which are perfect for walking around the city, as well as sleek flip-flops to elevate your summer ’fits. However, this year has also brought a re-emergence of several ’90s, Y2K, and late-aughts trends: exaggerated platforms, cool clogs, and, gasp, gladiator sandals. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a dainty, barely there leather sandal, for which there is ample selection from cult designers like Brother Vellies and A Emery.
Ahead, see and shop Byrdie’s best designer sandals—an edit of elegant slides, cushy flatforms, and tiny kitten heels, in addition to the aforementioned silhouettes. Also, be sure to read styling and care tips from our experts: Amelia Ansink, senior strategist of accessories at Fashion Snoops, and stylists Tyler Minor and Mickey Freeman.
Meet the Expert
- Amelia Ansink is the senior strategist of accessories at Fashion Snoops, a consumer insight and trend forecasting company.
- Tyler Minor is a Nashville-based celebrity stylist. His clients have included Jesse James Decker and Trisha Yearwood.
- Mickey Freeman is a stylist and designer based in New York. He's worked with Keke Palmer, Azealia Banks, Dylan Sprouse, and more.
Emme Parsons Bari Leather Sandals
Emme Parsons plays with proportions for the Bari sandal, juxtaposing thin, winding straps with a thick footbed. The luxe leather style maintains a presence without making a statement, so it’s capable of complementing everything from dresses to tailoring.
Price at time of publish: $415
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 1 inch | Size Range: IT 35-46
A Emery x Matteau Deia Sandal
These sandals from A Emery's collaboration with cult brand Matteau are a great compromise between one of this year’s emerging trends, gladiator sandals, and a more timeless aesthetic facilitated by a strappy construction. Wear your pair with one of Matteau's breezy dresses.
Price at time of publish: $170
Material: Leather | Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Size Range: EU 35-41
Brother Vellies Trieste Sandal
For those searching for something timeless with an element of romance, consider these slinky, barely there leather sandals from Brother Vellies. Inspired by the seaport town in Italy, it’s essentially the ultimate summer getaway shoe, given its elegance and easy wearability.
Material: Leather | Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Size Range: US 6-12
Gianvito Rossi Versilia 20 Suede Sandals
Gianvito Rossi’s Versilia 20 is the perfect pick to take you from day to night. It offers simple lines and a strategic design, with straps that sit just above the ankle bones and a manageable block heel. Team it with everything from denim pants to dresses of the casual, professional, or even formal variety.
Price at time of publish: $745
Material: Suede | Heel Height: 1 inch | Size Range: US 6-12
Versace Triplatform Sandals
According to Ansink, Versace’s over-the-top satin platforms are so on-trend right now for their “party-going aesthetic.” They also echo styles of the late ’90s and early 2000s, which many designers have used as inspiration for their latest collections.
Material: Viscose and leather | Heel Height: 6.25 inches | Size Range: IT 35-41
Bottega Veneta Ankle Tie High Heel Sandals
“Strappy sandals are a major footwear trend and provide a needed update to the classic gladiator style with a trendy Y2K twist that's having such a big moment right now,” says Ansink. “Bottega Veneta’s leather ankle-wrap sandals are a perfect example of this trend, showing how intricate and handcrafted these silhouettes can be while still maintaining a timeless appeal.”
Price at time of publish: $1,300
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 3.75 inches | Size Range: US 5-12
Best for Date Night
Cult Gaia Rene Raffia Mules
When it comes to conversation shoes, Cult Gaia’s Rene mules raise the bar. Set on architectural gold-plated heels that create a floating effect, these dainty slip-on sandals, which are complete with raffia straps, are sure to complement many date-night looks.
Price at time of publish: $548
Material: Nylon and cotton upper; leather sole; iron heel | Heel Height: 3.5 inches | Size Range: EU 35-42
Best Kitten Heel
Manolo Blahnik Susa 50 Sandals
These Manolo Blahnik heels are such an elegant choice for dinners and events. They have fluted kitten heels and slender crossover straps that toe the line between classic and trendy. You can wear them with everything from midi dresses to trousers.
Price at time of publish: $845
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 2 inches | Size Range: EU 34-43
Balmain 105mm Ultima Metallic Leather Sandals
Olivier Rousteing's Ultima heels have an edgy and architectural look that's eye-catching without being over-the-top. The leather uppers are crafted to form a strappy shape and feature chain-shaped resin heels—a clever nod to the label's longstanding signature aesthetic.
Price at time of publish: $1,595
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 4 inches | Size Range: IT 36-41
Marni Fussbett Sandals
No pedicure? No problem. This Marni style has straps that cover your unpolished toes but still allow your feet to breathe. After two years of embracing hygge lifestyle habits and taking up new activities outdoors, these fisherman sandal types are a nice nod to the homey lifestyle to which we’ve grown accustomed.
Price at time of publish: $690
Material: Fabric, jute, and leather | Heel Height: 1.5 inches | Size Range: EU 36-41
Brother Vellies Bike Leather Lace-Up Sandals
If you're looking for a strappy sandal with some vibrant color options, check out Brother Vellies' Bike Shoe. Anchored by a slightly flared heel, the style is handcrafted from rich leather in several highlighter-like colors.
Price at time of publish: $495
Material: Leather | Heel Height: 3.5 inch | Size Range: 5-12
Christian Dior Dway Slide
The Christian Dior Dway slide is simple yet distinct. Its upper features a black-and-white embroidered “CHRISTIAN DIOR” logo that stands out, while the flat, slip-on construction offers an effortless appeal.
Price at time of publish: $730
Material: Cotton and leather | Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Size Range: EU 34-42
Valentino Garavani One Stud Suede Sandals
Fashion’s cyclical nature has brought gladiator sandals back into the fashion vernacular, with ankle wrap styles at the head of the pack. This silhouette from Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection, which is made from tan suede, features a single large rockstud across the vamp and wraparound ties.
Price at time of publish: $950
Material: Suede | Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Size Range: EU 35-42
Roger Vivier Slidy Viv’ Leather Sandals
The Slidy Viv’ contains all of the hallmarks of distinct Vivier style, from the crystal buckle details to the streamlined silhouette. While the label offers iterations in various materials, like satin and tweed, the leather is perhaps the most versatile and certainly the least precious material (an important detail for those concerned with durability).
Price at time of publish: $1,325
Material: Leather | Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Size Range: EU 34-42
Prada Fussbett Buckle Thong Sandals
Need a pair of flip-flops that have a more refined and polished feel? Consider these thong sandals by Prada, which feature an adjustable buckle with a lugged sole for extra durability.
Price at time of publish: $575
Material: Leather and rubber | Heel Height: 1 inch | Size Range: EU 35-41
Birkenstock x Proenza Schouler Arizona Slide Sandals
Classic double-strap slides have proven the test of time. This Proenza Schouler collaboration by Birkenstock, complete with a Velcro feature to adjust the fit, is one such example. “[They’re] a must-have thanks to their effortless design and everyday wearability,” Ansink says of the silhouette.
Price at time of publish: $420
Material: Leather and EVA | Heel Height: 1 inch | Size Range: EU 35-43
Veronica Beard Davina Sandal
For a sandal that nods to the sensibility of a classic Swedish clog, there’s Veronica Beard’s Davina. The style, which features polished gold hardware and a chunky high heel, is fashion-forward with its Y2K-era elements, such as the buckled band in denim.
Material: Denim upper and wooden heel | Heel Height: 1.5 inches | Size Range: US 5-12
Arizona Love Trekky Canvas Sandals
Looking for a sporty pair of sandals to wear on your next walk? This label’s iterations have been seen on the likes of fashion content creators Camille Charrière and Lucy Williams. They're set on foam platform soles and have hiking-inspired straps swathed in striking leopard-print gauze.
Price at time of publish: $185
Material: Gauze and canvas upper; EVA sole | Heel Height: 1 inch | Size Range: EU 35-42
What to Look for in Designer Sandals
Designer sandals are somewhat of a commitment, so you may want to focus on pairs that you can wear with many looks and that will stand the test of time. “One of my favorite sandal trends this year is a strappy sandal with a heel,” says Minor. “Whether the heel is 5 inches or 2 inches, these sandals help elevate the look without complicating it.” Minimalist designs, he adds, make for a particularly versatile sandal that can be paired with just about any outfit. As a general rule, one can maximize this effect by leaning into neutral tones, like sand, off-white, or even earthy green.
However, Ansink points out that versatility can ultimately depend on the taste of the wearer and that striking a balance between that perspective and a decidedly timeless aesthetic is the secret recipe to finding the perfect pair of designer sandals. “Invest in a purchase that feels true to your style and has an enduring trend status,” she advises.
Designer or not, it’s important to assess the quality of a pair of shoes. Some sandals can “feel pretty flimsy,” Minor says. He advises shoppers to look for sandals that have a sturdy sole, as this will offer stability, security, and comfort long-term.
Are designer sandals worth it?
Our experts all say that designer sandals are a worthy investment when it comes to quality and timelessness and that if you choose properly, you won’t regret it. And, even if you do grow tired of the style, Freeman points out that their high resale value can work in your favor. Example: Some Chanel, Gucci, Hermès, and Amina Muaddi sandals on TheRealReal and Vestiaire Collective hold values in the thousands, numbers that are on par with or greater than their original sale price.
How do you take care of designer sandals?
“Mink oil is one of my favorite things to use when trying to preserve a pair of leather shoes,” Minor says. “It helps condition and bring back the natural luster of the leather. Saddle soap is a great product for cleaning leather sandals and shoes.”
Freeman recommends stuffing them with tissue, wax paper, or another shaper to prevent creases. And at the very least, you should store your designer sandals in a clean, dry container to shield exposure to surrounding elements.
Why Trust Byrdie
Hayley Prokos is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor focused on fashion and lifestyle. She contributes regularly to Byrdie’s commerce section and has a passion for sourcing chic and practical pieces with long-term wearability. After hours of researching and chatting with our experts, she’s gathered enough insight to determine which designer sandals are worth buying.