Best Shoes for Summer

Sperry Angelfish

Shoe styles for summer are generally comfortable and easy to wear. While the designs may be vastly different, many of them lean toward the casual, which fits right into the season's laid-back vibe.

Footwear for Warmer Weather

It's summer and you want to kick off those confining boots and let your toes get some air. Summer shoes let you do just that. These seasonal shoes are made to get you through plenty of hot weather activities. Just as summer fashion should make comfort a priority, the same is expected of footwear.

While very casual shoes are suitable for many events, keep in mind that for the job, professional shoes are still required. However, instead of closed-toe pumps, women may be able to get away with slingbacks in the office. Guys, put those suede oxfords away and opt for woven leather dress shoes for the season.

Flip Flops

Flip flops, or thongs, go hand-in-hand with summer. They're usually cheap, plentiful and available in many colors and designs. From a plain pair of flip flops that retail for a few dollars to fancier versions studded with fake gemstones or decorated with flowers, you can find these ultra-casual shoes in drugstores, discount stores, department stores and high-end retailers, too. Wear them with shorts, bathing suits, skirts, casual dresses and jeans.

Some brands to consider:

  • Havaianas Slim Royal Flip Flop
    Havaianas Slim Royal Flip Flop
    Havaianas are considered the inventors of the modern-day flip-flop, with their brightly hued pairs made from high-quality rubber launching on the market in 1962. This Brazilian brands sells 210 million pairs of their classic shoes every year and count Heidi Klum, Jennifer Aniston, and even Barack Obama among their fans. Flip flops for both men and women range from just under $20 to over $60 per pair, depending on the style.
  • Rainbow Sandals are especially popular in California and among surfers. They are known for their comfortable foot beds (made from layers of sponge rubber that act like memory foam to mold to each person's feet) and for being extremely durable -- the company uses specially formulated glue to keep layers and straps in place. They now sell over 2 million pairs of sandals every year and have numerous reviews calling them "the best sandals you'll ever own." Rainbow Sandals are available in leather, rubber, and hemp materials, and prices for both men and women's sandals range from about $20 to $90, depending on material and style.

Wedge Sandals

For women who want to add some inches and pizazz to a casual skirt ensemble, wedge sandals are a good bet. They come in simple slip-on styles with a fabric upper, or you may prefer espadrilles, which lace around delicate ankles. Wedge sandals pair well with skirts of all lengths, but are best suited for very casual wear and don't fit into business attire.

There are a huge variety of wedge sandals put out every season. Here are some great styles to consider:

  • Flat-form wedge heels are becoming quite popular. Refinery 29 listed this Forever 21 pair as one to buy, and its simple shape in a royal blue color will go with everything this summer from jeans to skirts. They're also affordable at just under $30.
  • Espadrille styles are also great to consider during the summer. The Huffington Post recommends this Via Spiga Platform Wedge Espadrille. Its classic blue-and-white colorway is nautical-inspired, and would make for a great casual sandal during the warmer months paired with summer dresses and shorts. Prepare to invest about $250 for these great shoes.

Dressy Sandals

When the occasion calls for something a bit less casual, women can opt for dressy sandals. This may mean sandals that are designed in metallic colors or feature slinky straps and high heels. These are usually the best shoes for summer weddings (especially in outdoor settings) and dates.

Styles change every season, but some perennial looks, like the following, endure.

  • Strappy, caged heels appear every summer and many brands make some beautiful pairs. The Dolce Vita Henlie Lace Up sandal, as suggested by Hollywood Life, is the perfect pair. The flattering nude color will elongate legs while the cage detail is delicate and not overwhelming on a smaller foot. This pair costs about $190.
  • Ankle strap sandals are always popular, and Stuart Weitzman's Nudist Sandal is this season's "It" shoe, according to Huff Post Style. It comes in a variety of colors and materials, but a patent nude or metallic heel will match any outfit you pick. It's a pricey option however, at close to $400. For a more affordable alternative, check out this Steven by Steven Madden pair that's extremely similar but a fraction of the price at around $110.

Boat Shoes

Men should consider boat shoes as an alternative to sandals for a more casual look. Sandals or open-toed shoes are typically not appropriate for more formal occasions. Boat shoes are designed to be worn on boats and are typically made from canvas or leather, with marks scored in the soles of the shoe to better grip slippery decks. Leather versions are usually treated with a water-repelling coating. They are traditionally worn without socks and look great with shorts or cuffed chino pants.

Some brands to consider:

  • Sperry Top-Siders are made in Maine and known the preppy world over for inventing the concept of boat shoes. They make the most classic boat shoes and come up with new variations every season. You can pick up a pair starting at about $65 though some of the more elaborate styles top out at around $190.
  • Sebago is the other big powerhouse boat shoe brand, and they are frequently compared against Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes. They claim to hand sew their boat shoes and use extremely durable leather for a pair of shoes that will outlast the summer. Prices start at about $80, going up to around $160.

Fashion Sneakers

Kick back in sneakers that are showcases for style, not athletic prowess. Available for all ages, these summer shoes pair well with just about any casual outfit. They can dress down a summer dress, or can be worn with shorts and cuffed pants. A great everyday shoe for the summer for men and women.

Two classic sneaker brands are:

  • Converse Chuck Taylor Classic
    Converse Chuck Taylor Classic
    Converse, especially the Chuck Taylor All Star versions are the quintessential summer sneaker -- even Marie Claire agrees! Pick up a white pair in the beginning of the summer and don't be too precious with it. Let it slowly get dirtied and muddied throughout the summer for the perfect, worn-in sneaker by the end of the season. Chuck Taylor classic white sneakers can be purchased for about $50.
  • Vans' Classic Slip-Ons are also another perennial favorite. They look great in classic white or black but this season try an updated perforated leather style, which has been gaining in popularity recently and has been worn by people like YouTube star Ingrid Nilsen. Snag a pair of Vans for around $45-$65 depending on the style.


Plain old flats are always a good summer shoe option for women. Instead of the dark colors and heavy materials perfect for fall and winter, look for white and other light-colored flats, either with closed or open toes. You'll also find fun patterns as you would on fashion sneakers.

These flats will suit your summer style with flair:

  • Chinese Laundry Countdown Ballet Flat
    Chinese Laundry Countdown Ballet Flat
    D'Orsay flats are perfect for summer as they have cut outs on the side of the foot, which makes them more comfortable during the warmer months. Refinery29 suggests this Chinese Laundry pair. The blue and white colorway is a perfect nautical nod, and the exposed toes and covered heel makes them both summer- and work-appropriate. These shoes retail for around $40.
  • Look for light colors and flats with texture or a pattern to add a little more pizzazz than a regular leather style. ELLE recommends this Alaia Laser-Cut Studded pair, which retails for over $1,100. A similar style can be found much cheaper like these from Target, which cost under $20.

Best Bets

When shopping for summer shoes, think lightweight, light colors and casual. While flip flops are desirable due to their low price and wide availability, they're not appropriate for every venue. Because you can usually get away with laid-back footwear all season long, expand your horizons a bit and look for all types of shoes. That way, you'll be prepared for anything that comes up, including a nighttime beach stroll, backyard wedding or weekend getaway.

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Best Shoes for Summer