The 11 Best Sandals for Summer That Are Stylish and Functional

Birkenstock’s Arizona Essentials sandals boast all-day comfort and pair well with any outfit

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Best Women's Sandals
Photo: Birkenstock/ Simon Miller/ InStyle

With the weather warming up and summer travel plans falling into place, we've got one thing on our minds: Sandal shopping. But snagging a new pair of sandals can come with a set of challenges. For one, they are notoriously less comfortable than sneakers and boots; and, two, they don't always last us through multiple summer seasons, making us question what's worth the investment.

For the sake of our soles, we plunged into the internet's best sandal offerings and researched designs that are stylish but, most importantly, comfortable and durable. We weren't surprised that our long-time favorite Birkenstock sandals made it to the top of our list, but we also found some excellent picks for slides, platforms, wedges, and more. Ahead, we share the secret to comfortable summer soles with our list of the best women's sandals.

Our Picks

Best Overall: Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA

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Also available at Dick's Sporting Goods, Famous Footwear and Amazon

What We Love: They pair well with everything.

What We Don't Love: The price is a little high for the material.

Thanks to their comfort, durability, support, and long-lasting design, we're big fans of Birkenstock's Arizona sandals, especially their EVA pair. They are made entirely out of molded EVA (or in full, ethylene vinyl acetate) — which is a type of foam known for being soft, yet as tough as rubber — making them the most cushioned pair of sandals we own. Samantha Sutton, InStyle Senior Fashion Editor, owns more than her fair share of sandals, but she considers these Birkenstocks her "go-to" because "they're just so easy to slip on in a flash." And if you're not sure how to style them, don't worry, because Sutton thinks they actually pair well with everything, adding, "They keep even the most floral, ruffled sundresses from feeling too sweet, which is a plus for me." While the price is a little high for the material, it's still a great price point for the Birkenstock Arizona style, as they typically run upwards of $110.

Size: 4-12.5 | Colors: ​​Coal, black, metallic silver, white, turquoise | Materials: Molded EVA

Best Value: Soda Women's Topic Open Toe Buckle Ankle Strap Espadrilles

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Also available at Walmart

What We Love: They come in a variety of colorways.

What We Don't Love: We wish they were made of real leather.

As expected, Amazon is always a great place to start when it comes to finding affordable yet stylish options. We're particularly fond of these espadrilles from Soda. Not only are they comfortable, but they're versatile, too — you can wear them for a day trip with friends, then out at night for a romantic date. The platform might seem a bit intimidating, but with the sturdy ankle strap, your feet will be supported regardless if you're at the beach or out dancing.

Size: 5.5-11 | Colors: Black, brown, tan, white, cam, python | Materials: Polyurethane sole and synthetic materials

Best Splurge: Simon Miller Vegan Cro Slide

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Also available at Revolve

What We Love: The puffed footbed is super comfortable.

What We Don't Love: There are only two color options.

We swoon for all of Simon Miller's funky, retro-style shoes, but these puffy polyurethane-leather slides stood out to us because the adjustable velcro straps allow you to customize the fit, while the cushioned lining molds to your feet and ensures extra comfort. The real star factor here, however, is how much support they offer the soles, making for a cushy, glove-like fit that gives you a little height.

Size: 5-11 | Colors: Black and green | Materials: Vegan leather

Best Slide: Target Women's Mad Love Star Slide Sandals

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What We Love: They're made of eco-friendly and recycled materials.

What We Don't Love: According to customer reviews, they run a little big.

Similar to the Birkenstocks we called our best overall, these slides are also made of EVA sourced from recycled plastic. Available in a variety of pastel shades, these lightweight, waterproof slides will become your go-to for all summer activities. While the shape may not be the most unique — yes, Yeezy and Adidas have done it for years — these come at a reasonable (read: cheaper) price and include a lot of the same features: traction on the soles, molded footbeds, raised soles, and comfortable materials.

Size: 5-12 | Colors: Black, blue, off-white, pink, purple, taupe, mint green, orange | Materials: EVA

Best Platform: Dr. Martens Voss Women's Leather Strap Platform Sandals

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Also available at Dr. Martens and Amazon

What We Love: They're water-resistant.

What We Don't Love: They don't come in half-sizes.

These shoes are like our favorite Dr. Martens boots but in sandal form. We love our pair of Leather Strap Platform Sandals because, once broken in, they make incredible walking shoes. They're also surprisingly lightweight, even for such a chunky design. The sandals are made from PU-coated leather — an artificial polyurethane material that is water-resistant — which is a plus for those random summer thunderstorms. We appreciate that they can be worn casually with cut-off shorts and a graphic tee, but also style well with a frilly summer frock. The versatility and durability alone make them a pair of sandals you'll have in your closet forever.

Size: 5-11 | Colors: Black, white, purple | Materials: PU-coated leather

Best Wedge: Aerosoles Zola

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Also available at DSW

What We Love: We love the low-key wedge style, plus they are great for high arches.

What We Don't Love: They're a little heavy for sandals.

The design boasts a fresh take on wedge sandals with their ultra strappy, fisherman style, slight lift at the heel, and sturdy rubber soles; they're the perfect cross between sandals, sneakers, and wedged heels. We love them for their low-key wedge and amazing arch support (as someone with high arches, these are the most supportive sandals I own). That being said, because of their durable rubber soles, we find them to be a little heavy. The weight of these shoes make us feel sturdy, but is not ideal for beachside strolls.

Size: 5-12 | Colors: Silver, pastel lime green, white, black | Materials: Vegan leather

Most Comfortable: Clarks Drift Ease

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Also available at Clarks

What We Love: They come in wide sizing.

What We Don't Love: We wish they came in more summery neutrals, like tan and white.

Because finding a pair of comfortable sandals is no easy feat, we took that into consideration with all our choices. And out of all of them, these sandals from Clarks take comfort to the next level. Not only do they have a comfortable EVA sole, but they also have added foam cushioning on the footbed. The outsole offers a lot of grip, so you feel supported while wearing them. On top of that, they have specific wide sizes available to cater to those who need a little extra room in their shoes.

Size: 5-12 | Colors: Taupe, black, navy | Materials: EVA and faux leather

Best Strappy: Reformation Monaco Knotted Sandal

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What We Love: The ankle strap is adjustable.

What We Don't Love: They're a bit pricey.

Made from sustainably sourced bovine leather with a dazzling metallic finish, the Monaco Knotted Sandal from Reformation offers both versatility and flair. The design on these strappy sandals is timeless, too, so you'll get a ton of wear out of them. On top of the classic design, they're also sustainably produced: Each pair is made with less carbon dioxide, water, and waste, compared to industry standards. Dress them up with a maxi dress or down with a pair of cut-off shorts and a t-shirt — no matter how you wear them, you really can't go wrong.

Size: 5-11 | Colors: Gold, Black, Silver | Materials: Bovine leather

Best Sporty: Merrell Women's Alpine Strap

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Also available at Macy's, Merrell and REI

What We Love: The soles are super durable.

What We Don't Love: According to customer reviews, the backstrap is a little long.

You don't have to sacrifice style for function. Case in point: These sandals from Merrell, which are the intersection of stylish and practical. In addition to being our pick for best sport sandal, the Alpine Strap is our runner-up for most comfortable because they completely wrap around the foot, feature adjustable straps, and have a cloud-like EVA footbed. Plus, the sole is grippy and durable. Our only complaint? According to customer reviews, the backstrap is a little long, so those with more narrow feet might have a hard time making them work.

Size: 5-11 | Colors: Light blue multi, black, teal multi, pink multi, black multi | Materials: EVA, Lycra neoprene, recycled webbing, textile

Best Leather: Everlane The Leather Fisherman Sandal

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What We Love: The leather is high-quality.

What We Don't Love: According to customer reviews, the leather is stiff at first.

When investing in a pair of leather sandals, you want a design that is made to last. This fisherman sandal from Everlane is made from high-quality Brazilian leather that molds to your foot and features a comfy padded insole. The slight heel makes the sandals ideal for both casual and dressy settings — they're our go-to summer office shoe, but also work for a breezy patio dinner.

Size: 5-11 | Colors: Adobe brown, lemon, white, dark charcoal | Materials: Leather

Best Clog: Dr. Scholl's x GANNI Original Slide Sandal

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Also available at GANNI

What We Love: They have adjustable uppers.

What We Don't Love: They're only available in whole sizes.

We can't stop thinking about the Dr. Scholl's x GANNI Original Slide Sandal collaboration. We appreciate the whimsical patterns as well as their green factor: They're made from recycled materials. They don't sacrifice comfort for style either — they have the classic Dr. Scholl's wooden soles that are made with a contoured design to mimic the arch of your foot. The slip-on strap also adjusts (that's right, it's not just for show!) to make sure the uppers fit nice and snug on your feet.

Size: 5-11 | Colors: Blue, white, beige, beet red, blue iris | Materials: Wood and textile

What to Keep in Mind

Comfort

Above all else, comfort is the most important aspect of a sandal, especially if you need arch support that many designs don't offer. For this reason, Dr. Brad Scaheffer, a board-certified foot surgeon, says to look for sandals that also have insoles. If they don't, he recommends Dr. Scholl's Discreet Cushioning Insoles for Flats & Sandals. These discreet insoles provide a ton of great arch support and shock absorption, which makes them a must-have for anyone who experiences foot pain while wearing sandals.

Stability

Dr. Schaeffer also says to prioritize stability. "When you're shopping for a shoe, it's important to look for a stable sole with a great heel counter [the back of the shoe that meets the heel and Achilles tendon]," he explains. "The reason for this is due to our 'gait cycle' [the way we walk], which goes from heel strike to toe-off," he notes, adding that the gait cycle is what needs the support from our shoes and insoles "in order to avoid developing foot pain."

Design

Design matters for, of course, style, but also for comfort. According to celebrity stylist Tanya Tamburin, "sandals should have smooth leather, a supportive arch, and straps, hardware, buckles, or zippers that don't pinch or dig into your skin." She also recommends looking at sandals that are more lightweight by design so your feet don't feel weighed down when walking.

Your Questions, Answered

What should you look for to find comfortable sandals for women?

According to Dr. Schaeffer, walking around can cause a lot of strain and pressure on our plantar fascia (the tissue that connects the heel and toes), heel, and arch. "Ultimately, the best sandals have a little arch support [and] make your feet feel comfortable," he explains. Tamburin also says to seek out sandals with a cushion gel footbed, which ensures long-lasting support. According to Tamburin, it also helps to look for sandals with an ankle or heel strap. And, she mentions that sandals with chunky soles are the best to walk in, especially those with a rubber sole as they offer traction and grip.

What types of sandals for women are most supportive?

"I suggest a sandal with a cushioned footbed and one that has thicker straps to keep the shoe on and foot in place," says Tamburin, emphasizing that you want to ensure the sandal is secured to your foot, otherwise "your muscles work extra hard to grip the shoe and [that] can cause strain and other issues." For a sandal that doesn't have a strap around the heel or ankle, Dr. Schaeffer recommends Birkenstock sandals.

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