Even trend-averse, or normal-minded, people can make controversial footwear decisions.
Take everyone in my high school in the late 1990s, who decided simultaneously to endorse the Adidas unisex slide shower sandal. I’m talking about the one with a sole made of tiny black massage nubs intended to be worn after sports to sooth foot aches. Fifteen-year-olds didn’t have foot aches; we just wanted to wear the noisy slip-on shoe so we would match the sound of everyone else walking down the north corridor. (Me, being the trendsetter I was destined to be, wore mine with babydoll dresses and, when wanting be be extra cute, socks. Shudder.)
And now a warning. Guess what footwear trend reentered the style scene this season?
Yep, the shower shoe—although of the nub-less, velcro-less variety. But before you stretch your sartorial muscles to try (retry?) the slide, or attempt other questionable shoe choices, such as the Birkenstock Arizona or Grecian sandal, I have a few guidelines. It's easy to file what's below under “things fashion people like that no one else gets,” but with the right planning, you too can pull off these tricky summer shoes. Just leave the babydoll dresses to the professionals.
How to Wear: With a jewel-toned cotton suit (for the crisscrossed leather sandals). Again, wearing real Teva sandals requires a paddle or some hiking shorts, and even then ....
Avoid: Espadrilles that are also slippers, especially novelty-print ones.
Try: Espadrilles, au naturale—not any of the newer slipper-espadrille hybrids, nor their bastard cousin, the boat shoe hybrids of slippers or boat shoes. The brands Del Toro and Stubbs & Wootton both make great ones (plus more warm-weather slip-on staples, such as drivers, boat shoes, and loafers).
How to Wear: Dressed up, for a funky, special-occasion look. This natural straw option by Stubbs & Wootton is a great non-lace-up option for wedding season. Or try soft suede or canvas espadrilles—such as this pair by Soludos—for a more casual look.
Avoid: Options that are too strappy, that have too many buckles or embellishments, or that wraps up your ankle. Ankle-wrappers are almost the worst offense, ever, in men’s warm-weather footwear—second only to using the word "mandal."
Try: A simple crisscross sandal, as mentioned above. The Ancient Greek Sandals Kritonas is also a simple, all-sunny occasion shoe for beginners. Pick a pair that is dark, like chocolate brown, navy, or black—never white, red, or "natural." If there's sand between your toes, nothing beats a pair of classic Havaianas flip-flops.
Wear With: Tailored shorts and a tan.
Avoid: Anything your retired mom in Boca Raton would wear while tending her tomatoes. Or designer versions of the classic, two-strap utilitarian sandal—like the above floral-print option by Givenchy.
Try: Matte, black leather with silver (or tonal black) hardware.
Wear With: Your passport and a pair of resort pants.
Avoid: The Crocs versions. Anything too technical. Socks of any kind.
Try: The original shower shoe—without nubs—the Adilette by Adidas Originals. Or their amp’d up pair by Raf Simons in either black (sleek and ninja-like) or blue and green (more punched-up and preppy).
How to Wear: With a swimsuit at the pool or a towel at the Turkish bath house. These slides aren't street legal.