In the world of footwear, what's the diamond of the season? The answer is inarguably sandals. Your summer wardrobe is virtually incomplete without a pair (or two!) of this chic shoe. If you notice, your favourite fashion girls on the internet have been styling their outfit of the day in either flat mules, low statement heels or chunky soles.
Sandals are such a versatile shoe that they can come with a heeled or platform base, besides the classic thin flat sole. Basically, any footwear with an open upper can be tagged a sandal. "It's the perfect summer shoe," said Elin Mai, a Dubai-based stylist of over 20 years and the founder of styling consultancy Style Doctors. "Sandals don't look as heavy as winter shoes, so they're the perfect companion to flowy summer dresses and skirts."
You could cast a wider net or narrow down your options by asking yourself a single question, says Mai. Is the purpose of your sandal fashion or practicality? Say you'll be heading to the beach often this summer or exploring a holiday destination on foot daily. In such cases, according to our expert, we're better off avoiding sandals that offer little to no arch support.
"Look for something that has padding in the sole and a platform, so that your feet do not fall completely flat on the floor, especially for those who have an arch. Flat sandals might not be good for the back and foot - some lift would be better," she advised.
Let your needs dictate the best sandal for you. If you're in the market for a holiday sandal, pick up two: a practical sandal to take on the day's activities and a trendy shoe that's still breathable for the evening. Mai stresses the comfort factor.
She said: "Take into account your destination - are you going on a city tour with a lot of steps or just jumping in and out of a taxi? Then, consider the clothing style - are you going for formal or casual?"
These questions can also dictate the colour and material of your shoe. Brown is a classic shade that flatters every other outfit, metallic straps complement a mostly black wardrobe, and while white is a great colour, it shouldn't be your option for city exploring.
"What's not a good material for sandals is suede. In hot weather, the foot tends to get hot and leave marks on the soles. Leather is a lot more practical and durable," said Mai.
Our styling expert shares some of the hottest sandals of the summer season and how to coordinate them with your closet. We've added options for each trend across budget, picking only those with positive feedback on Amazon. Dive into the list below and shop with Prime to get same- or next-day delivery.
1. Barely-there straps
The ultra-minimals of sandals, barely-there flats are the biggest trend this summer, notes Mai. "These have a flat sole and really thin straps that look super chic. Barely-there sandals tend to pair better with long trousers or, at least, knee-length pants. You have to have more going on with your outfit to balance them out, since these look like nothing on your feet," she said.
The delicate ankle ties in this category, like our pick by Rampage, are reminiscent of gladiator shoes and can look very elegant. But, because they don't have an actual clasp, adds Mai, it might be a challenge to keep them on the feet. Vince's metallic square-toe sandal has a half-inch heel with a softer footbed, but the best part is its heel strap. For even more casual wear, the Havaianas' flip-flop style sandals offer a glamourous edge to your beach town outing.
2. Mules to sate a heel or a closed-toe need
Backless mules lean towards a classy, restrained look. These continue to rise in popularity, more so for the closed-toe, kitten-heeled shoes that were everyone's favourite last year, as well as this season. "The mules we're seeing are not chunky like the past season. They're more delicate, like the mule version of flats, and sometimes, they come with an interesting heel cut," explained Mai. Pair these with the edgier part of your wardrobe, such as a blazer dress.
Hawkwell's simple, faux leather pair has a shock-absorbing insole, so it can support your evening strolls and casual gatherings. For a bit of height, see Nine West's rendition of a kitten-heel mule with a square toe to mark a special occasion. Or, you could style your best summer outfit with a sculpted heel by the Italian designer Franco Sarto - it has a leather upper, ankle closure and ergonomic insoles.
3. Flatforms are the new wedges
Move over platforms - there's a new high shoe in town. Flatforms lift you off the floor a couple of inches, says Mai, while still offering you the comfort of a flat shoe. They have a thick sole to add a bit to your height, with a variety of enclosures. Fashion influencers are often seen in them under wide-leg trousers and simple dresses.
Nothing can compete with the comfort of a Croc, which is why this lightweight, wedge-esque shoe is our first pick. It's got easy push-pin closures at the ankles and deep heel cups to cushion your feet. Then comes Roxy's flip-flop flatforms with an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) footbed and synthetic leather upper for daytime outings. But, the most coveted flatform is one with straw textures, like the Steve Madden two-inch shoe that has an elastic upper.
4. Raffia sandals for the summer
Speaking of straw, we're seeing a lot of raffia accents crop up in sandals. Woven or braided straw details can feature on the heel or on the straps. "A casual straw sandal would look very flattering under crochet white dresses, which are in this season, or a jumpsuit in linen or cotton," said Mai. Thanks to their neutral, sunny vibes, a raffia sandal is a must-have for the summer.
First up is Dolce Vita's dual-strap sandal in natural raffia. These are classic flats with a 0.25-inch heel and a chunky, braided upper. Xoxo's flatforms feature a more minimal woven raffia upper and a soft foam sole that has some shock absorption. You can also find this sandal in all-black to complement a linen outfit. Braided details can look just as elegant in barely-there flats, like our CentroPoint pick.
5. Birkenstocks to last for years
Featured as our essential travel shoe for wanderers and explorers, Birkenstocks make the summer cut every time. They're hardy, comfortable and walk long distances with ease. Packing is where Birkenstocks might pose an issue, as they're a big sandal, says Mai. According to reviewers, they also take some time to break in, but once you do, they quickly become your everyday shoe.
Naturally, the more straps to keep your foot in, the better. The Mayari is a thong sandal with a toe loop and buckle enclosures. Like all Birkenstocks, the contoured sole is made with EVA, which makes the pair unexpectedly light, note reviews. The Madrid shoe is slightly roomier with a single buckle strap, if you'd prefer to keep the feet ventilated. Another single strap shoe is the Gizeh model, except it has added support with a toe post. Reviewers hail this as the most comfortable summer shoe they own.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.