As it's perhaps the most important purchase you’ll make for the summer season, investing in the right pair of sandals is crucial. They’ll swiftly become your most-worn footwear. Paired with everything from jeans to dresses, they need to hold up in the versatility stakes.
They also need to be comfortable. After all, nothing can spoil your day quite like a sandal-induced blister or straps that dig in with every step. Seeing as this is Who What Wear, there should also be an acute emphasis on style. This myriad of non-negotiables makes sandal shopping tricky, and finding a pair that ticks every box feels near impossible. We're here, however, to make summer-sandal shopping easier.
Below, we've laid out exactly what you should be looking for when selecting your sandals. Consider it the ultimate summer-sandals shopping guide. From the colours our editors always zero in on to the detail that makes walking in them feel cloud-like, scroll below for six tips to bear in mind when shopping for sandals.
SEEK OUT CUSHIONING
Wearing socks with sandals has become fashionable again (more on that later), but we get it if this isn't a look you subscribe to. In lieu of the padding of a sock, look for sandals with extra cushioning underfoot, which will make walking in them, particularly on hard surfaces, a more enjoyable experience. "After writing an article about them, I treated myself to a pair of Dune's Longisland Sandals," says contributing editor Maxine Eggenberger. "Looking back, I think this is my first sandal with a cushioned sole, and honestly, I don't think I'll ever be able to buy a pair without it again."
Like the rest of our bodies, the size of our feet can change, so it's a good idea to have your feet measured every so often to ensure your shoes still fit correctly and aren't causing any ailments. It'll also help you choose the correct size. No one wants sandals that are too short, causing the heel or toes to hang over the edge, so taking a quick measurement of your foot will help you determine whether they're going to fit. This is particularly useful if you're shopping online and don't have the opportunity to try them on before you buy.
TRY THICK STRAPS
"I always look for wide, flat straps when searching for sandals," says influencer Louisa Hatt. "Sandals with wide straps are more comfortable on my feet, which means I can wear them all day without complaint. I'm a big fan of wearing socks with sandals, too, and this style of sandal tends to look great with them, making wide-strap sandals more versatile than other pairs."
Much like cushioning, the soles of your sandals should also be flexible and thick to provide another layer of pliable protection around the foot. Anything too hard and flat will make them harder to walk in. Handily, chunky soles are one of 2021's most prevalent sandal trends, so you can tick off a top trend and earn yourself some practicality points in one. "I've found my sandal of the summer in this Mango pair," says assistant editor Nell Block. "The velcro straps and rubberised sole will make them the perfect throw-on shoe for a summer spent outdoors."
DEBATE: SLIDE OR SLINGBACK?
Although slip-on sandals—think chunky flip-flops and Hèrmes-style sliders—are proving popular right now, if you're planning on walking farther than your local in them, you might want to think about investing in a pair with an ankle strap, a slingback or, at the very least, a double strap. This will afford you extra support. Slider sandals will work for shorter distances—here's hoping your local is nearby.
CHOOSE YOUR COLOUR
A bright pair of sandals is a sure-fire way to add a playful spin to your summertime wares, but if you're looking for a set that transcends trends and seasons, it pays to buy a classic colourway, especially if it's an expensive pair. "You can never go wrong with black, tan, or white, plenty of which we've included in this feature," says editor Emma Spedding. "However, if you want to add some joy to your shoe collection, I've rounded up some of my favourite statement styles for you, too."