A classic pair of leather sandals goes a long way.
Having worked in the fashion industry for almost a decade as both a fashion editor and a stylist, I’ve seen many trends, cult items and, sadly, many brands come and go. The upside is that by now I’ve started to build up a roster of capsule wardrobe items and hero brands that I can confidently get behind knowing they’ll stand the test of time. I am, after all, a big fan of the classics. Personally, when I hit my 30s and became a lot more educated about sustainability, I started wanting to buy fewer, better pieces to try to break that outdated (and straight-up wasteful) cycle of buying replacement items every year. And I’m sure most of you reading this, whatever age you are, are feeling the same thing.
One of the key items I was finding myself looking for at the start of every summer was a new pair of sandals. Of course, sometimes that was because I loved my last pair so much that I’d completely worn them down. Sandals are, after all, not the sturdiest of footwear. But more often than not, I was just a bit over the trends of the year before, usually bought on the high street, and wanted a fresh pair to feel current and exciting.
Alexis Foreman wore these A.Emery sandals last summer, and I still love them so much I bought them myself this year.
Tired of this approach, in recent years, I’ve really tried to turn instead towards sandal brands and styles that have much more timeless qualities. Think pared-back, practical leather sandals that look good with dresses, shorts, jeans, linen trousers, swimwear—you name it. As well as this being a more responsible approach, I also think these classic sandals actually look much more elevated and cooler than a particularly “trendy” style would. So when I’m styling celebrities or models now or suggesting pieces for personal-styling clients, it’s these kinds of sandals that I’m using and recommending, and there’s a small number of brands I always turn to for the best ones.
Emma Thatcher is a big fan of anti-trend sandals. Here, she wears Tkees leather flip-flops.
Below, I’ve let you in on all these insider secrets, sharing my list of the nine sandal brands I truly think are the best in the business for their quality, their comfort, their lack of a sell-by date and their stylish design. Some are investment labels, like The Row, where longevity is especially important. But not all of them—I’ve also included my favourite reliable high-street brands, from M&S to Arket, which I stand behind from tried-and-tested experience. So if you’re looking for a last-minute pair that will see you through this summer’s heatwaves as well as many after that, scroll down to shop.
Shop the nine best sandal brands, according to a stylist: