When the sun is out in full force, it’s time to give your feet some space to breathe, but this can be very frustrating when there are so many types of sandals to choose from. For men, this might be easy as they don’t actually get much choice (sorry, guys!), but for women, it can be quite a headache.
You sure want something comfortable, but you cannot compromise on style, not with all those gorgeous dresses you’re dying to wear. A savvy shopper will try to have various types of sandals in their dresser, something to fit every occasion.
Gladiator sandals for a fun day in the sun, flip flops for the beach or the pool, and maybe some hiking sandals if you love the great outdoors. How about formal occasions and parties? What do you wear for those?
Different Types of Sandals
In this article, we’ll be looking at dozens of types of sandals and see what are their best features, in terms of both comfort and style and you will surely find something to add to your collection.
Flip flops are one of the most popular types of sandals in the world because they are extremely comfortable and affordable. The most common type, the rubber flip flops can be worn at the beach, for a relaxed walk in the park, but also around the house or the garden.
There are, of course, various types of fashion flip-flops, with leather soles and straps. Such sandals can be adorned with rhinestones or metallic elements, but they’re still flip flops so they are not suitable for formal occasions no matter how much they might cost.
Slides are quite similar to flip flops, only instead of the Y-shaped thong, they have a wide strap or several thin ones over the bridge of the foot. Slides can be made of rubber, plastic, or leather. With this type of sandals, it’s the straps that count.
They can be colorful, decorated with small beads, or made of braided leather straps in various patterns. Many women prefer slides adorned with large artificial flowers or pom-poms, which create a distinctively feminine look.
Slides go with any type of outfit, from a bathing suit to a glamorous summer dress, but they’re only for casual occasions.
One thing is for sure, wood sandals are extremely resistant. The wood soles will last for years without any visible damage. Just like flip-flops, wood sandals have a Y-shaped thong.
This thong can be made of synthetic materials, but since it’s an item you’ll have in your closet for years you’d better go with a leather thong, which is way more durable.
Some say the wooden sole is a bit hard on the foot, but once you get used to this type of sandals you’ll hardly notice the sole.
For people with sensitive skin, there’s a type of wood sandals with the sole covered in a softer material, like leather or synthetic material to cushion the foot.
Leather is considered the best possible material for sandals, as well as any other type of shoes. Leather is very resistant, soft and it’s a material that allows the skin to breathe. This is very important for sandals, which are meant to be worn on hot days.
If you don’t want your feet to become all sweaty and stinky, always choose leather sandals. Most types of sandals can be made of leather, from the most basic flip flops to extremely stylish high heels, good enough for formal occasions.
If you’re looking for comfortable footwear, cork sandals are your best bet. Besides being an eco-friendly natural material, cork molds to the shape of your foot soles, providing excellent support in all the key areas.
Cork is also a highly breathable material and doesn’t allow the accumulation of moisture, preventing bacteria buildup, so your feet will feel fresh all day.
Cork sandals are ideal for those who need to be on their feet all day long. If you go on a trip and plan to do a lot of sightseeing, make sure to wear comfy cork sandals.
Definitely not as comfortable as flip-flops, but there’s one very good reason women love heeled sandals. They make the legs look better, longer, and thinner, even if you’re not exactly a supermodel. High-heel sandals go equally great with skinny jeans, as well as with a skirt or dress.
They’re also more classy than flat sandals, so they can be worn for very formal occasions, either with a business outfit or a little black dress.
While they might appear less comfortable to wear, if they’re good quality and made of soft leather you might forget your wearing heels, your feet won’t feel the strain and you can party all night.
If you don’t want to bother with high heels, wedge sandals are a great alternative. The wedge sole will make you look taller, your legs will seem long and sexy, but you won’t feel any strain as this type of sole is very supportive.
This type of sandals is extremely versatile. The wedge sole can be only slightly raised, so you can barely feel it, or it can be impossibly high. Wedge sandals have all the benefits of high heels in terms of appearance, but they are way more stable and easy to wear.
Peep-toe sandals are very feminine and also quite comfortable, as they offer excellent support. At the front, these sandals look like a pair of shoes with a cut-out to allow you to showcase your impeccable pedicure and also to keep your toes cool.
Peep-toe sandals have a thin and adjustable strap that goes over the heel. They’re more comfortable to wear than strapless sandals and they look formal enough to be worn at the office or for various social occasions.
Match a pair of peep-toe sandals with an elegant outfit and you won’t look underdressed. For the most stylish look, make sure your bag matches the sandals.
Slingbacks fall somewhere in between shoes and sandals. The front part is exactly like a shoe, with all the toes neatly covered, but on the back, they have just one thin strap going over the heel.
Speaking of heels, slingbacks have a thin moderately high heel, which makes such sandals very comfortable to wear. Slingbacks allow the skin to breathe, but you’ll still look very classy, as most of the foot is covered.
Stilettos look more like shoes than sandals, as they don’t come with straps or leave the foot exposed, but an elegant lady will definitely wear them for a formal occasion even if it’s sweltering outside.
Stilettos are characterized by very high and very thin heels. Some call it a needle, but it’s more like a dagger, to be honest. And quite as dangerous. Whether you call them sandals or shoes, stilettos are the most stylish types of footwear ever.
They’re not too comfortable and many women find it hard to learn how to keep their balance on those impossibly thin heels, but they look simply gorgeous and they’re perfect for very classy events.
Block Heel Sandals
When you want to look an inch taller, yet feel very comfortable, block heel sandals are just what you need. The heel is squarish and not too high, so you won’t have any balance problems with them.
Block heel sandals are great to complete a refined look without standing out like the classical high heel shoes.
You can wear block heel sandals to the office as well as for casual outings, as they go equally well with a business outfit as well as with slacks or jeans.
Since the feet are firmly supported, you can wear block heel sandals for many hours without feeling the strain.
Nothing says summer like a pair of strappy sandals! They’re very light, they allow the skin to breathe and they’re fun. And it’s all about the straps. It doesn’t matter if they’re flat or heeled sandals, as it’s the straps that catch the eye.
Such sandals can have many thin straps covering the bridge of the foot, or they can have as little as two straps, one over the foot and the other placed high above the ankle encircling the lower part of the feet.
You can have multicolored straps or straps adorned with tiny beads or metallic elements, like stars, hearts, or geometrical forms.
Kitten Heels Sandals
Fashion dictates that heels are sexy and most women understand the need to wear them. However, high heels are notoriously difficult to wear. This is where kitten heels come in and do a really good job.
Such sandals look very feminine, the heel ends with a pointy bit, but they’re not all that high to make wearing them uncomfortable. At the same time, kitten heels sandals are less intimidating than high heels.
You can totally wear such sandals on formal occasions or on a first date. After all, they’re extremely feminine and you don’t risk towering over your partner!
No wonder cutout heels are so trendy, as they look pretty cool and they’re very flattering to any type of legs. No need to say more about the high heels and how they make your legs look slimmer, what matters for these sandals is the cutout pattern, which can be floral or geometric.
And since such sandals are meant to stand out, you can go with a bold color. After all, it’s summer and summer is full of bright colors by definition.
You can wear a pair of cutout heels sandals with mid-thigh pants or with a light summer dress. However, the dress should not have an elaborate and overly bright print as it might clash with the sandals.
Thong sandals are a type of flip-flops, but a very stylish one. If flip flops have simple thin straps, thong sandals have elaborate, braided straps, often with metallic elements. They are easier to wear as the strap ends with a loop that goes around the ankle, so there’s no risk your sandals might slip off.
Thong sandals come in a variety of colors and models. The straps can be very simple, for a minimalist look, or in various shapes, covering more or less of the foot. While thong sandals are considered a step above flip-flops, they’re still not formal enough for the office.
This type of sandals was invented back in ancient Rome, and apparently, they were worn by gladiators in the arena. When you’re in a fight to the death you’ll want reliable footwear and these sandals offer just that.
First of all, they’re flat, and then they have thin leather straps or strings that go up to the mid-thigh in a crisscross pattern, which helps keep them firmly in place. Bottom line, such sandals are great for long walks and you won’t even feel them.
Probably gladiators had other things to worry about than what their sandals looked like, but modern gladiator sandals are often very colorful. They’re great to wear with a skirt or a dress, but not a very long one as you don’t want it to cover your nice new sandals.
If you feel the occasion calls for heels but don’t want to be miserable for hours wearing stilettos, you should go for pumps. Pumps are formal enough since they cover the foot and especially the toes, but they are also light and easy to wear.
Pumps can be either flat or have a heel somewhere between 1 and 3 inches, so your feet won’t have to deal with the torture of 6in heels. Also, pumps are much easier on the toes, since they’re rounded at the front, rather than pointy.
You can wear pumps on many occasions and have a classy look. Also, pumps don’t stand out like stilettos do and don’t make you look too tall.
Platform sandals are great when you want to feel comfortable but still get an extra inch or two in height. These sandals offer complete support to the foot, provided, of course, that the soles are made of comfortable material and have some padding.
Platform sandals are most suitable for casual occasions, but not something you might want to wear when you dress to impress. Also, keep in mind that such sandals are a bit bulky, so they’re not what you should be going for if you have thick ankles.
When you want something comfortable to wear, you can always rely on loafers. Loafers are flat, so the soles of your feet won’t be under strain, and they’re not tight, so your toes won’t feel cramped.
This is what you should go for when you have many errands to run or when you go on a trip and you’ll be on your feet for many hours.
On the other hand, loafers aren’t known to be sexy or particularly stylish, so you’d better not wear them on a date.
Nobody could have guessed crocs would still be around. What started out as a novelty item, has quickly become one of the most popular types of sandals.
The secret of their longevity is that crocs are very comfortable to wear, they’re waterproof, they’re affordable, and come in many colors, with or without funky prints.
Crocs are casual sandals, the sort of thing you wear when you go to the beach or hang out with your friends. They go best with shorts or baggy trousers, something as comfortable as your sandals.
Ballet Flat Sandals
These sandals do look a lot like ballet shoes, but to be honest they’re way more comfortable than those pointy contraptions ballerinas have to wear. These sandals are quite similar to flat pumps, but in most cases, the soles are lighter and more flexible.
You could say that ballet flat sandals are as comfortable as loafers, but they have more class. They are the footwear for tall women who cannot afford to wear pumps or stilettos much.
A pair of ballet flat sandals in soft leather will look great either with a formal business suit, or a casual outfit, like jeans and a T-shirt.
Summer and boots don’t go well together, but boot sandals are a completely different thing. First of all, they’re made of soft materials, with no padding as you don’t wear them to keep you warm. Also, most types of boot sandals are in fact cutouts, to keep your feet fresh.
It’s just the upper part that looks like a boot, but usually, it’s not very tight so as to allow the skin to breathe. You can wear boot sandals with pants, but also with a light dress to create a powerful contrast.
This is a type of sandals both men and women can wear. Sport sandals are flat and comfy, just the thing you need when you go for a bicycle ride on a hot day, but you can also wear them when you play beach volleyball or go boating.
The important thing about sport sandals is that they have sturdy, but soft straps. To make sure they fit snugly, these straps are usually secured with velcro.
They do come in many colors, but since they might gather a lot of dust you should choose something in a dark color, otherwise, you’ll have to wash them every time you get back home.
While they look a lot like flip-flops, Tatami sandals originate in Japan and they have a thicker sole. Tatami sandals count as casual footwear for men and women and are designed to keep your feet well supported. The soles of Tatami sandals can be made of rubber, but the most reliable ones have cork soles.
Also, the straps of tatami sandals aren’t made of rubber or plastic, but rather soft materials, like a mix of synthetic fibers and velvet. Tatami sandals are more resistant than flip-flops since both the sole and the straps are sturdier.
This type of sandals is suitable for men, women, or children as they are flat-soled and comfortable to wear. However, such sandals are preferred by men mostly since they are closed-toe, so they offer better protection. And, anyway, a lot of men don’t like to have their toes exposed.
For women, there’s also an open-toe version of these sandals. You don’t have to go fishing if you wear such sandals, but the idea is they’re very sturdy, as they have several wide straps, often secured with velcro, just like sport sandals.
Rope sandals are quite hot at the moment, probably because they’re the most eco-friendly footwear you can find. And also because some of the most famous fashion designers in the world, like Valentino, paraded them on the catwalk.
Rope sandals are usually made with natural fibers, obviously, or with upcycled materials, which sounds even better.
That doesn’t mean that style doesn’t matter. It does quite a lot and rope sandals often come with braided straps that loop around the ankle and are tied with a knot.
Rope sandals are suitable for casual outings, but you’d better make sure you don’t get caught in the rain as they will become soggy.
OK, we’re not talking about some medieval torture implement here. Metallic sandals are basically like any other sandals, but their straps have a metallic shine, which makes them more suitable for fancy occasions.
Such sandals may be flat or have really high heels, but what makes them stand out are the silvery straps.
You can wear metallic sandals at a party or a restaurant, but you have to be careful how you match them with the rest of your outfit and your bag. You cannot have silvery straps on the sandals and golden buckles or chains on the bag.
They might not be at the height of fashion, but they reign supreme when it comes to comfort. Rubber soles provide good support and since it’s a flexible, bouncy material they’re good at absorbing shocks.
Many types of flip-flops, slides, or sports shoes have rubber soles, which explains why these sandals are so popular. Also, they’re rather affordable and come in many colors so it’s impossible not to find something to suit your taste.
Pointed Toe Sandals
Pointed toe sandals are meant to imitate stilettos, only they don’t usually have very high heels. What makes such sandals so attractive is precisely the pointed toes part, as this looks most elegant on any type of shoe.
Often enough, such sandals don’t cover the whole foot. They only cover the toes and they have a thin strap that goes around the ankle or over the ankle.
They’re very classy and are suitable for both formal and casual occasions. You can wear pointed toe sandals with pants, but a knee-high skirt does a better job at showcasing them.
Open Toe Sandals
Women go to great lengths to have just the perfect pedicure and superbly painted toenails it’s a pity to hide them from view. Frankly speaking, open-toe sandals are sexier than closed-toe ones.
On the other hand, it’s a question of comfort. If you wear a light short dress, why torture your feet in closed sandals on a hot day. Let the toes breathe a bit.
Open-toe sandals are always to be preferred in summer, at least on less formal occasions. If you want to look smashing, go for a pair of heeled sandals that will look great on your legs, while also keeping your feet cool.
Square Toe Sandals
Square toe sandals are extremely classy and they do stand out, as they’re not very common. They look neat and this makes them suitable for formal occasions. You can wear this type of sandals with a suit and pants business outfit, as well as with a pencil skirt.
Since it’s something you can totally wear on various occasions, you should invest in a pair of good quality leather sandals, preferably in a neutral color to go with many different outfits with the right fashion accessories.
This is something to wear on special occasions so they must be special, too. Dress sandals should stand out with an exquisite design. Very thin straps are great for that, and not many of them. At the same time, dress sandals should absolutely scream good quality.
If they’re not real leather, make sure the synthetic material is good enough to look like leather, if not feel like it. Also, the straps could be in a metallic shade or decorated with Swarovski-style gems.
If you’re very tall, you could go for flat sandals, on condition they look impeccable. Otherwise, a bit of a heel is a must, preferably a thin heel.
If you’re looking for something as comfortable as slides, but just a tad classier, try a pair of mules. Some types of mules are flat, in which case the material should be very elegant, but for stylish look sandals with a bit of heel are always to be preferred.
For instance, you can choose a pair of mules with an edged sole, which is more comfortable to wear, or sandals with a square and not very high heels.
Depending on the material, mules can be quite casual, but a pair of mules with some shine to it is good enough for a more formal social occasion. Mules can be worn with both jeans and dresses or skirts.
If you go hiking you need sturdy footwear, that’s for sure. Most would choose sports shoes for that, but on a warm day, you can go with sandals, especially if it’s an easy trail you’re going on. However, make sure the sandals have a rugged sole, perfect for slippery or rocky terrain.
Also, you should choose something with a shock-absorbing rubber sole. The straps need to be wide, soft and they must fit perfectly on your feet, otherwise, you risk slipping and falling.
The problem with summer is that all the heat can cause swollen feet and if the sandals are too tight they’ll probably cut into the skin causing nasty blisters.
Stretch sandals help you avoid this problem, as the straps are made of an elastic material, to accommodate swelling. Also, wide straps are preferable to thin ones, which again can cause blistering.
Now, elastic materials are not the most glamorous, so you should compensate that with colors. Black sandals go with many different outfits, but a pair of stretch sandals in a bright color has more personality and you can always pair it with a T-shirt in the same shade.
It’s sometimes hard to find shoes or sandals that fit nicely and if you’re often confronted with this problem, hook-loop sandals might be the answer. Such sandals have a wide main strap that goes through a metallic hook and closes with velcro.
This is just perfect as you can adjust the length of the strap so it won’t be too tight or too loose. Hook-loop sandals are usually made for comfort, so they’ll also have a thick rubber sole.
They might not be the best-looking sandals in the world, but they’re very practical when you know you’ll have to walk for many hours.
This is yet another type of sandals that are primarily comfortable. Clogs cover the toes and the front half of the foot, so they’re suitable for cooler days as well as hot ones. On the other hand, the foot gets plenty of air so it won’t get sweaty.
As far as the sole is concerned, you can choose between clogs with a wedge sole or a firm square heel. As for style, you should look for something made of breathable and very resistant leather. You might wear clogs with a long dress, but they go best with jeans or slacks.
Arch Support Sandals
With most shoes, it’s the arch of the foot that’s put under a lot of strain, which can cause a lot of pain or even muscle cramps. If you’ve always suffered from such problems, you should try sandals that offer arch support.
This comes in the form of extra padding to support the arch. Many types of high heels offer some cushioning for the arch of the foot, but it’s a problem that also appears with flat sandals. Make sure the cushion is made of soft material and feels comfortable against your soles.
Toe-loop sandals are very trendy because they’re just as comfortable as flip flops, but look sexier. Basically, instead of straps, you have a loop that goes around the big toe and that’s enough to keep the sandals firmly on your feet.
Depending on the model, you can also have a wide strap over the bridge of the foot, or several thin ones, which tend to look even more elegant.
Toe-loop sandals are only suitable for casual occasions, like a walk in the park or a beach party, but they do go with any type of outfit you choose, from shorts to long flowery dresses.
What makes espadrilles stand out is the flexible sole, which is traditionally made of rope, but it can also be made of rubber. The special rope the soles are made of is called esparto, hence the name.
The upper part of these sandals is made of fabric, preferably something highly breathable like cotton or linen. The sole of espadrilles is usually flat, but you might also find some with wedge soles.
Espadrilles can come in a solid color, but most of them are however striped and quite colorful. They go best with pants, but you can also wear espadrilles with a long skirt in similar colors.
Lace-up sandals are very popular, especially among teenagers and younger women, mostly because they’re very cute. They’re usually flat and the sole doesn’t really matter.
When you buy a pair of lace-up sandals you look at the material of the upper part, the one with the thin straps that you get to tie over the ankles.
There are so many models on the market, it’s quite tough to pick just one. When you choose one, make sure the colors go with many of the outfits in your closet.
Women will always find ways of putting beads, gems, metallic hearts, or colorful butterflies on anything, and sandals are no exception. They might be a bit too girly for mature women, but the younger ones go nuts over-embellished sandals.
It doesn’t matter if they’re flat or high-heel sandals, those straps can certainly do with some adornments. You can wear such sandals with practically anything, from skinny jeans to shorts or the most adorable summer dress. Just make sure the colors don’t clash!
There’s a unique air to crochet sandals. They look handmade, even if they aren’t. Since beige is the traditional color for any type of crochet, most sandals will also be of a light color.
However, you can also find crochet sandals in bright colors, which make them stand out even more. Such a fabric is very comfortable to wear and allows the feet to breathe.
Most crochet sandals are flat, to be even more comfortable. They go well with dresses as well as jeans.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is considered a sandal?
If you look in the dictionary, a sandal is basically a sole strapped to the foot. It doesn’t really matter if it has only straps or thongs, even a shoe with a strap over the ankle qualifies as sandals. When you put it like this flip flops also count as sandals. So do slides, although the upper part is so wide it’s hard to call it a strap. On the other hand, nowadays low-cut shoes, like stilettos or ballerina shoes, are sometimes presented as sandals.
What are the different types of sandals?
One way of distinguishing between sandals is that some can be flat or have a wedge sole to give you an extra inch or two in height, while some can have very high thin heels, just like stilettos.
The upper part also matters – some types of sandals rely on a couple of straps, while others cover the front part of the foot completely.
Then you have open-toe and closed-toe sandals. Finally, some sandals are definitely casual, while elegant leather sandals with a bit of heel can be worn on more formal occasions.
What are sandals with straps called?
Technically, you could call them strappy sandals and be done with it, but fact is many types of sandals can fall under this umbrella term. The classical strappy sandals are more about style and the accent is on how they look. On the other hand, gladiator sandals or sports sandals also have straps, but these are meant to be sturdy, so the style is not a priority.
What is a fisherman sandal?
The term fisherman sandal refers to a flat sandal with comfortable wide straps often fastened with velcro. The sole is usually thick and made of rubber or cork, so they provide plenty of support and are good for walking over long distances. Fisherman sandals can be worn by men, women, or children. Men prefer closed-toe fisherman sandals, while the models made for women are often open-toe. Such sandals are meant to be sturdy enough even for kids playing in the park and they need to fit firmly on the foot, unlike flip flops or slides that can easily slip.
Are sandals business casual?
Many women dream of wearing sandals to the office and still look professional. That depends very much on your work environment. If there’s a strict dress code, you’d better stick with pumps or stilettos, if you feel comfortable wearing them for many hours. At best, you can try peep toe pumps. These can look professional enough, but you will have to have an impeccable pedicure to show. In certain work environments, even slingbacks or mules are acceptable. As a general rule, keep in mind that open-toe sandals are not considered professional.
Why are sandals better than shoes?
During the warm season, sandals are better than shoes because they allow your feet to breathe, which prevents sweaty feet and the development of stinky bacteria. Flat sandals are more comfortable for long walks, especially if they have a supportive rubber sole. If you want something that still looks like a shoe, but is lighter and more comfortable, try ballerina shoes or espadrilles.
What are the best sandals for walking?
Any type of sandals with a comfortable and supportive sole is good for walking. However, you’ll also want something that is secured firmly to the foot. Gladiator sandals, fisherman sandals, gladiator sandals, or even hiking sandals are the best for walking over long distances. What they have in common are the wide straps, which keep the sandals in place without cutting into the skin. As far as the sole is concerned, rubber or cork is the best as they’re flexible and shock-absorbing. If you have sensitive feet, you might want to look for a pair of sandals that offers arch support, to prevent cramping in the foot.
Can sandals shrink in the sun?
Apparently, some types of sandals can shrink when left in the sun for prolonged periods. This issue has been known to affect Crocs, for instance. There’s a quick remedy for that. Just wash them in very hot water and put them on immediately, with some socks preferably. On the other hand, you can use heat to shrink Crocs that are a bit loose. Plastic sandals might also be damaged under intense sunlight. At the same time, prolonged sun exposure might also damage natural leather sandals, making them stiff.
Can sandals cause swollen feet?
It’s not the sandals that cause swollen feet, but rather the weather. Hot temperatures can affect blood circulation, making blood pool in the legs, and this causes swollen feet. At the same time, tight shoes can also restrict normal blood flow, which leads to swollen feet. Lack of arch support might also cause swelling, something you’ll notice when wearing flip flops. Another cause of swollen feet is sitting for many hours at your desk. In winter, when you wear comfy boots you might not notice that much, but in hot weather, which only compounds the problems you will certainly feel the straps of your sandals cutting into the skin.