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As warmer months approach, so does the need for a pair (or two!) of solid sandals. The alpha shoes of summer, sandals deliver more freedom to wearers, both physically and aesthetically, as they offer more breathability and creativity than any boot or snowshoe ever could. (Think of the material options alone.)
There are plenty of comfortable and highly versatile sandals that are as chic as they are practical. The styles we’re seeing include chunky flat slingbacks for walking around the city, supportive slip-ons to team with beachwear, and fresh takes on open-toe mules (the last of which are go-to's for style influencer Kelsey Kotzur, with whom we spoke while researching this article) that transition well from day to evening. In addition to those options, there are more delicate, strappy forms available. And should you wish to conceal more of your feet—namely, your toes sans pedicure—there are caged styles as well.
Best Overall: Aerosoles Dada
A mix of style and comfort is key to any pair of great sandals. Aerosoles’ Dada style is stylish, comfortable, and affordable—it’s an infallible option. In terms of structure, the platform is built to be one of the most comfortable silhouettes; it keeps the feet flat yet supported with a natural arch. It’s also extremely wearable—you can quickly complete a look with a basic T-shirt and cropped jeans.
Heel Height: 2 inches | Colors: Black, Soft Gold, Off-White, Tan, Grey Velvet, +more | Size Range: 5-12
Best Budget: Birkenstock Arizona Essentials Waterproof Slide Sandal
Birkenstock is known for producing high-quality, comfortable sandals, so it's easy to see why this sleek version is one of the brand's most popular styles on offer. The lightweight, waterproof shoes have a shock-absorbing footbed, ample arch support, and a flexible sole with excellent traction underfoot.
Heel Height: Approximately 1 inch | Colors: Black, Popcorn, Vibrant Yellow, Dusty Blue, +more | Size Range: 4-12.5 (in regular, wide, and narrow)
Best Designer: Christian Dior Dway Slide
Christian Dior’s Dway slide is simple yet distinct. Its upper features a black-and-white embroidered logo that stands out, while the flat, slip-on construction offers an effortless appeal. This is an option that transcends trends, so while pricey, you can achieve a lower cost per wear over time.
Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Colors: Black Embroidered Cotton, Multicolor Embroidered Cotton +more | Size Range: IT/EU 34-42
Best Leather: Bottega Veneta Rubber Lido Debossed Leather Slides
Like those from Dior, Bottega Veneta’s slides are effortless and luxurious. Though, rather than using embroidery, the iconic Italian fashion house debossed its slides with a pattern that closely resembles its signature intrecciato weave. They’re also designed with a square toe and pillowy footbed for a level of comfort that only the most luxe leather and construction could provide.
Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Colors: Moon Beam, Black, Khaki, Pistachio +more | Size Range: IT 34-42
Most Versatile: 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 at the most flattering points of the ankles. Team it with everything from denim to dresses of the casual, professional, or even formal variety.
Heel Height: 1 inch | Colors: Black | Size Range: IT 36-42
Best Chunky: Proenza Schouler Leather Slingback Sandals
If you love Proenza Schouler’s signature Chelsea boots, then you’ll love this summer special. The luxury label used the same rubber lug soles for these sandals, so, between the two styles, wearers could reap the benefits of its classic style and good grip all year long.
Heel Height: 1 inch | Colors: Black, Off-White | Size Range: FR 35-42
Best Strappy: Emme Parsons Bari Leather Sandals
Emme Parsons plays with proportions for the Bari sandal, juxtaposing thin, winding straps with a thick footbed. We love that it maintains a presence without making a statement, so it’s capable of grounding everything from dresses to tailoring.
Heel Height: 1 inch | Colors: Black, Sand | Size Range: IT 35-41
Best Flatform: Dr. Martens Blaire Quad
In classic Doc Martens fashion, the brand makes a statement with its Blaire Quad style, which incorporates bold lines and a rich matte leather finish. As a flat platform, the shoe keeps the foot even, avoiding any stress that an exaggerated arch would cause.
Heel Height: 3 inches | Colors: Black, White | Size Range: 5-11
Best Structured: 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 slip-on sandals, which are complete with raffia straps, embrace the natural curve of the foot.
Heel Height: 3 inches | Colors: Neutral | Size Range: IT 35-42
Best Retro-Inspired: Chelsea Paris Toinet Leather Ankle-Strap Platform Sandals
Add a subtle dose of grooviness to your wardrobe with the addition of these platform sandals by the label Chelsea Paris. Made in Portugal and lined with soft leather, these sandals boast a square toe, adjustable strap, and a comfortable 2.75-inch platform heel. We dream of wearing these to a trendy restaurant for happy hour, a cocktail date, or even on vacation somewhere extra warm.
Heel Height: 2.75 inches | Colors: Black, Mother of Pearl | Size Range: 6-11
Best Sporty: Teva Midform Universal Sandal
Looking for a sporty pair of sandals to wear on long summer walks? See this pair by Teva. It boasts a hook-and-loop closure for ease of wear, and with just over an inch of height, the style splits the difference between the brand’s two-inch flatform and the lower profile original version. Also, sustainable shoppers should know it’s made from recycled and recyclable materials.
Heel Height: 1.25 inches | Colors: Black, Bright Retro Multi, Lead +more | Size Range: 5-12
Best Metallic: Loeffler Randall Penny Knotted Lamé Sandal
We can always rely on shoe and accessory label Loeffler Randall to make a statement while still maintaining a healthy dose of practicality. The crinkled lamé, a focal point at the center where the fabric is knotted in a bow, builds interest by combining shimmer, shape, and texture. The sandals are also lined in leather for comfort—a big plus considering their day-to-night appeal. Reviewers said they’ve worn them with everything from denim to formalwear.
Heel Height: 3.5 inches | Colors: Gold, Beauty (pink), Black | Size Range: 5-12
Best Colorful: The Attico Devon Patent Leather Mules
A favorite of Kotzur, this sculptural and colorful style by Attico is the ultimate statement shoe. It’s engineered with a pyramid-shaped block heel that mirrors the angularity of the square toe, and it comes in several playful colors, like sky blue and pastel pink.
Heel Height: 4.5 inches | Colors: Neon Green, Sky Blue, Fuschia, Pastel Pink +more | Size Range: EU 35-41
Best for Weddings: Sarah Flint Perfect Sandal 85
Celebrities from Lady Gaga to Meghan Markle love Sarah Flint’s shoes, which the designer has said she created with the idea of elegant comfort in mind. She integrated details like a widened toe box to prevent toe crowding and a sole with ample padding and arch support to avoid general aches—ideal for wedding celebrations, no matter if you're the bride or one of their guests.
Heel Height: 3 inches | Colors: Black Suede, Blush Nappa, Gold Nappa +more | Size Range: 5-11
Best Flip Flops: OOFOS OOriginal Sandal
Flip flops aren't known for being supportive enough to wear for days on end, but this cute pair by OOFOS is an exception to that notion. Its machine-washable foam technology is billed to absorb 37 percent more impact than traditional footwear. So, it should reduce stress on the knees, ankles, and back more than any flip flop could.
Heel Height: 1.5 inches | Colors: Black, Cabernet, Forest Green +more | Size Range: 4-14
Best Artisan: Brother Vellies Togo Sandal
Brother Vellies is the cream of the crop when it comes to trend-forward artisan-made accessories. These particular flats are hand-dyed and woven by artisans in Burkina Faso. Sustainability is top of mind for the label, too, which practices small-batch production and uses more Earth-friendly materials, like vegetable-tanned leathers, hand-carved woods, and natural dyes.
Heel Height: Less than 1 inch | Colors: Sunbird, Bamako, Sahara | Size Range: 5-12
What to Look for When Shopping for Sandals
Be it a casual slip-on or a more refined, strappy kind, a well-made pair of sandals can last you years. When looking for the perfect pair of sandals, note the quality of materials used and attention to detail in a given pair. For dressier ones, are the soles lined in luxe leather, and are there any interesting details, like custom embroidery or a sculptural heel? Are the sportier pairs waterproof, and is there a deliberate attempt to create arch support? These are some questions to ask yourself when trying to determine what sets some sandals apart from the lot.
Beautiful, well-made sandals can be expensive—a financial pain that can be remedied by strategic buying to lower your cost per wear. Quality certainly plays a role, as having a pair of shoes that is both visually interesting and built to last will naturally result in more wear over time. Though, choosing a more versatile form, one that you can dress up or down, is another way to get the most out of a pair of shoes. In this case, look for shoes in neutral tones (metallics count) with moderate heel heights to ensure that you can style them with many things and avoid discomfort during long wear times.
How should sandals fit?
Look for silhouettes that appear to be a natural fit for the shape of your foot. “You want to ensure that there is no slipping when walking, no straps hanging or digging into your foot, and the length of the sandal is a perfect match,” said Meiklereid. “Make sure you are wearing the sandal, and it’s not wearing you.”
How do you style a chunky sandal?
Chunky sandals are having a serious moment, Meiklereid said, which begs the question: How can you style them practically? High-waisted shorts, mini dresses, and cropped denim are all compatible with chunky sandals.
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 sandals are worth buying this season.