Come spring and summer, those comfy, breathable, utterly casual flip-flops can be a godsend. Their ease of wear -- just slip 'em on and go, with jeans or shorts or a mini -- makes them a go-to warm-weather staple. They are not, however, the only option for open footwear.
Here, five stylish alternatives to flip flops when you're looking for something higher-fashion, dressier or simply a bit more interesting. They may not replace your flip flops for daily wear, but they offer nice variety that can round-out your spring/summer wardrobe.
First, the rope-bottomed sandals you'll see everywhere, and with good reason ...
These sandals feature a rope base that can add a lot of interest to a summer look, and they're highly versatile. You'll find espadrilles in a wide range of styles and textures, from printed canvas to strappy metallics to the perfectly neutral leather that does a great job of dressing down a maxi dress.
They can add height, too, which comes in handy for longer dresses and wide-leg pants. For while espadrilles can be flats, they also commonly come in platform and wedge styles that read casual and high-fashion (and tall!) at the same time.
Try pairing them with a flirty chiffon dress and printed head wrap for a breezy summer look from head to toe.
Up next, like vacationing in Mexico ...
These shoes originated long ago in Mexico as a flat, lightweight sandal with a woven leather upper, and they've entered the modern shoe scene in remarkably similar form. It's a rustic look known for comfort since the woven leather wraps back around the heel to help stabilize the foot (and keep the backs of your linen pants from creeping underneath your foot).
This Mexican-village shoe can be pretty sexy, too, as more modern takes on the classic huarache put the woven upper on a platform, wedge or high heel, making it a versatile and trendy spring/summer option.
For a laid-back, not-even-trying look, wear them with a lightweight cotton midi and sheer peasant top.
Next, when it's all about being bare ...
Huaraches, espadrilles and flip flops can be fun, casual and cool on summer feet -- but elegant? Probably not. For a sandal that can fill that bill, check out a pair of T-straps.
They can be casual, of course, but this style can also be refined, with a single, ladylike strap across the toes and another running all the way up the foot, the latter helping to create the illusion of a longer leg. The T-strap upper might be satin, leather, beaded, braided or chained, for a start, and you'll find it topping pretty much any shoe silhouette, from stiletto to flat.
Try this look with skinny jeans and a drapey jersey top for something casually elegant that could work for a casual Friday as easily as a day at the mall.
Next, an utterly current style, with a twist.
For the last few years, flats have been all the rage: The laid-back feel paired with the ability to, you know, walk, has made them a real favorite. But an alternative to the flip flop?
Yes, if you take out the toe. An open-toed flat offers breathability and a summery feel that pairs perfectly with the more refined skinnies, shorts and skirts, while offering a glimpse of your pretty, painted toes (which might be teal this year, and if they are, do show them off).
Finally, a relatively new look you might want to try out ...
Comfortable? Check. Stylish? Check. Able to add inches to your height, slim the look of your legs and work with pretty much any outfit? Check, check, check.
They're flatforms -- a cross between platforms and flats -- and they're not for everyone. A young and trendy sandal, they've got something of a '70s vibe, which may not appeal to those who actually lived through the '70s. Still, they're a noteworthy alternative to the flip flop, not only for the flattering lift but also because they're about the only shoe that remains entirely walkable regardless of heel height. A 4-inch heel paired with a 4-inch platform equals flat. And tall. Which can come in handy if you're tired of spending extra money to shorten your jeans.
Flatform sandals can feature any of the upper styles we've talked about here, making them a versatile shoe that's really easy to work into your current wardrobe. Try it with a denim mini, sequined top and simple leather headband for a look that's part boho, part glam and a real head-turner.
The not-a-flip-flop options are many, and it's worth your while to set aside your favorite thongs (they used to be called that!) and try out something new -- if only for an occasional thrill. There's nothing quite like a flip flop for quick, easy and casual. And while you may not leave your flatforms or T-straps by the door for a mailbox run, they're a great way to change it up. A pair of interesting sandals can be the piece that updates your look.
For more information on spring/summer styles and great shoes, check out the links on the next page.
What's the history of the first Nike shoes? Learn more about Nike shoes and their waffle iron origins. Learn more in this HowStuffWorks Now article.
More Great Links
- 20 Chic Spring Flats Under $200. FabSugar. March 26, 2012. (April 8, 2012) http://www.fabsugar.com/Spring-2012-Flat-Sandals-22273556
- 22 of Spring 2012's To-Die-For Shoes. Glamour Fashion. Sept. 2011. (April 8, 2012) http://www.glamour.com/fashion/2011/09/spring-2012s-to-die-for-shoes#slide=1