En español | After lounging around in sneakers and slippers for a year, we're ready for something a little more “shoey,” if you know what I mean. Get out the pumice stone and toenail polish because you're in for some real updates. Whether you choose trendy sandals or closed-toe classics with a twist, there's no trade-off on style or comfort this season. Here are 10 smart shoe buys to fit every foot and fancy.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy; Famous Footwear; 6pm; DSW
1. The cushioned ballet flat
Audrey Hepburn started the trend, but we made black ballet flats a true wardrobe basic. They make our mature feet look elegant (bunions and calluses and all) and our legs feel dancer-trim (regardless of size and shape). We've learned to be wary of ballet flats in stiff leather or patent leather that feel like a corset, or those with narrow pointy toes and paper-thin slippery soles. Shoemakers have taken our hint and added cushioning, rubber soles, roomy toes and higher vamps in styles like the Skechers On the Go Dreamy Mia Flat in black ($55, dsw.com), LifeStride Women's Ziggy Flat in black ($40, famousfootwear.com), Nine West Greige3 in black ($30, 6pm.com) and Old Navy Knit Almond-Toe Ballet Flats for Women in Stainless Steel or Black Jack ($20, oldnavy.com). Great for travel and commutes!
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PHOTO BY: 6pm (2); Target
2. Block-heel dress sandals
Chubby-heeled slingbacks are the new pumps. Definitely on the dressier side, they hold feet securely in place and give toes breathing space and a chance to show off an eye-catching pedicure. Try a colorful pair like the Circus by Sam Edelman Ibis in bright multi-snake ($35, 6pm.com), Naturalizer Traci in light blue snake ($55, 6pm.com) or A New Day Women's Eloise Heels in coral or black ($25, target.com) with a low to medium foot-healthy heel that's also perfect for walking on grass, cobblestones or city streets.
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PHOTO BY: Macy's; DSW (2)
3. Platform work loafers
If you live in pants, jeans and blazers or work in a conservative field where pantsuits are a core look, loafers have the right mix of tailoring and ease. Some of the best versions are a shoe sandwich of loafer top and sneaker bottom, like the Dr. Scholl's Discovery Platform Slip-On in brown/black leopard print ($55, dsw.com), LifeStride Zee Loafer in navy, gray or black ($60, dsw.com) or Naturalizer Rome Slip-On in navy fabric ($65, dsw.com). Note the cool platforms and grippy rubber soles. They're a sleek and stylish alternative to ankle boots.
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PHOTO BY: Old Navy; Gap; Zappos
4. Flat leather slides
Frill-free leather or faux leather slides elevate the slipper look to streetwear. Single strap styles like the Gap Leather Slides in brown cognac or true black ($50, gap.com), Old Navy Faux-Leather Slide Sandals for Women in cognac brown or Black Jack ($20, oldnavy.com) or the Sam Edelman Genesis in black atanado leather or saddle atanado leather ($60, zappos.com) have an upscale look that can be totally classic or trendy in a minimalist way. FYI: It's the rich neutral colors here — a polished black or saddle brown — and leather footbed that give these sandals a luxurious look.
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PHOTO BY: H&M; Nordstrom; 6pm; Anthropologie
5. Comfy fashion sandals
For those with bunions, corns and other annoying issues that make wearing sandals a seasonal nightmare, try sandals with plump padded straps — they're like a down coat for your feet. Look for ultrasoft leather straps that knot or twist on top like the H&M Leather Slides in black or beige ($60, www2.hm.com/en_us) or the Sam Edelman Garson Slide Sandal in Cali rose or black ($80, nordstrom.com), a wide puffy braided band like the Seychelles Puffy Woven Slide Sandals in green, medium pink or orange ($99, anthropologie.com), or a buttery soft ruched band like the Aerosoles Dada in off-white or black ($61, 6pm.com) for cushioned style that puts no pressure on sensitive areas.
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PHOTO BY: DSW; H&M; Target
6. Thong and toe ring sandals
Fashionistas who like a little more sizzle in their sandals can try the two buzziest choices: a flip-flop with heels combo or a band and toe-ring style. If you are a happy flip-flop wearer (and not everyone is!), try an elevated version like the H&M Toe-Post Slip-On Sandals in dark brown ($30, www2.hm.com/en_us) or A New Day Hazel Heel Thong Sandals in black ($30, target.com). For those who prefer a slide for comfort but want an extra statement detail, try an embellished sandal with a toe ring like the Vince Camuto Yevinny Sandal in light brown, black or off-white ($89, dsw.com) as a more this-minute alternative to slides.
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PHOTO BY: DSW; Zappos; Everlane
7. Sporty sandals
Know how sneakers can leave your feet hot, sweaty and dying for air in summer? Here are two top sporty alternatives. For truly active days spent hiking, camping or boating, try sandals like the Teva Sandborn Mia Sandal in green ($70, dsw.com) or the Keen Rose Sandal in navy, black/neutral gray ($90, zappos.com), both with all the bells and whistles like traction lug soles, hook-and-loop closures and antimicrobial technology to combat foot odor. For a less rugged version perfect for daily walks, try the Everlane ReNew Sport Sandal in scarlet or brown/blue ($68, everlane.com), made from recycled materials.
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PHOTO BY: Target; 6pm (2); DSW (2)
8. Gladiator sandals
Once trendy but here to stay, gladiators with their multi-strap design and a closed heel are another way to get stylish support. They're most foot-friendly in zip-back styles like the Universal Thread Women's Alva Gladiator Sandals in black ($25, target.com), Eileen Fisher Verge Sandal in sand leather ($63, 6pm.com), Esprit Carrie Sandal in black ($40, 6pm.com), Abella Zona Sandal in black ($40, dsw.com) and the Journee Collection Hanni Gladiator Sandal in beige, dark brown, black ($45, dsw.com). Stick to neutral shades of black, beige or brown for the most elegant effect.
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PHOTO BY: 6pm (2); DSW
9. Wedge platform sandals
Just ignore flat-forms (platform shoes cut straight across) and towering 4-inch wedges. They're a little klutzy and clunky. We might as well be strapping bricks to our feet! Lower wedges with a curved platform sole add just enough height to your athleisure pants, jeans and breezy, summer dress wedges and keep the look flattering. Choose styles with a contoured or cradle shaped sole like the Anne Klein Hermina in black or light sand ($45, 6pm.com) or the Trotters Nella ($80, 6pm.com) — the latter have those soft, knotted comfort straps I mentioned in tip number 5. Or try a combo cork-and-rubber sole like the Dr. Scholl's Hey Girl Wedge Sandal in green ($60, dsw.com) for a sportier version.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Zappos; H&M
10. Black espadrilles
Just slipping on espadrilles feels like a vacation. Who can resist buying a pair for that reason alone? These summer closed-toe espadrille slingbacks have all the details we prefer. Try a leather slingback flat version like the A New Day Women's Irene Slingback Espadrille Flats in black ($30, target.com) or a canvas style like the H&M Slingback Espadrilles in black ($25, www2.hm.com/en_us). For more height, opt for a 2-inch moderate wedge like the LifeStride Katrina 2 in black ($80, zappos.com). Yes, they're all in black for a good reason. They give all your black pants — joggers to jeans — a sharp, sophisticated bottom line, day or night.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.