Despite having grown up in Chicago before moving to New York, I actually really love warm weather. Summer is, without a doubt, my season. And while lounging in the sun, eating outside, and not having to layer are all viable reasons for my loving it so much, there are but two things that make summer the all-time greatest: walking everywhere and wearing sandals.
Of course, walking up to 20,000 steps a day can’t be done in just any shoes. For that, you need a pair with cushioning, soft straps that won’t pinch, and heels (yes, I walk in heels) that are made with support in mind. After a fair share of trial and error, I’ve discovered a handful of brands that successfully do all three—and then some.
Keep scrolling to shop fashion’s most comfortable sandals. Bonus: They don’t look too shabby either.
I couldn’t write a story about comfortable sandals without putting Birkenstock at number one. Crafted with comfort top of mind, Birkenstocks make it possible to live in a world without pain—well, foot pain at least.
I’ve yet to slide on a pair of ATP Atelier sandals and discover something I didn’t like. Every pair is made of the softest leather and often features padding for added comfort. But it’s not just about how the brand’s footwear feels. It also looks incredible and elevated. What more could you ask for?
I understand that some people would rather stay home than walk 10,000 steps in heeled sandals, but I’m convinced that those with that mindset simply haven’t found heels that can withstand the miles. If that sounds like you, testing out a pair from Dear Frances will change your mind.
There’s a reason why Kate Middleton adores Castañer wedges so much. They’re wildly comfortable, and when styled with anything from a sundress to denim cutoffs, they’ll make you look straight off a boat in the Mediterranean.
Mid-range prices, trend-forward designs, and quality-driven comfort combine in the form of Porte & Paire. Essentially, the brand checks off every box. But if you don’t believe me, why not try a pair for yourself?
Barbara Borghini’s Florence-based shoe brand might be a favorite among celebrities and influencers for its array of sculptural footwear, but Gia Borghini isn’t just beloved for aesthetic reasons. Thanks to super-soft materials and added padding, many of the Italian brand’s styles are perfect for walking long distances in style.
Fellow Who What Wear editor Yusra Siddiqui has refused to walk in anything else ever since she got a pair of Tevas.
Another one of my Who What Wear co-workers, Anna LaPlaca, suggested a different brand: Ancient Greek Sandals. According to her, Christina Martini and Nikolas Minoglou’s footwear brand makes some of the best walking sandals in the game thanks to its beloved comfort soles, which she says are “a dream.”
Vince might specialize in silk slip skirts and cashmere sweaters, but let me tell you—don’t sleep on its footwear. Made from high-quality, extremely soft leather, Vince’s shoes are a frequent walker’s dream, and they only get better with age.
Disclaimer: I refuse to wear flat flip-flops in New York City for obvious reasons. But the second that I land a safe distance away from the city, my Tkees become my feet’s best friend. Cushy and soft, they’re perfect for beach days spent walking along the water or hopping from seaside restaurant to seaside restaurant.
Italian footwear brand Nomasei doesn’t just make your feet feel good. It makes you feel good, too. With sustainability at the forefront of every step in the supply chain, you can go to bed after a long day of walking with the knowledge that the shoes that accompanied you didn’t leave a mark.
This L.A. brand really does it all, from bags to ready-to-wear to shoes—all three of which are consistently met with happy customers. What makes the brand’s shoes particularly great, though, is how sneakily comfortable they are. You see, from the looks of them, you’d never know how easy they are to walk in. But once you slip them on, well, prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
You don’t even want to know how many miles I’ve walked in Wandler’s heels. If I had to guess, it’d be in the hundreds—and that’s on New York City concrete. This is what I’ve learned: No matter how high their heels are or how architectural the styles appear, they never hurt. It’s practically a miracle.
I didn’t expect Nordstrom’s in-house and extremely well-priced brand Open Edit to make shoes that could keep up with me on a long day of press appointments, sample pick-ups, and evening events. Yet I’ve test-driven multiple pairs without a single issue.
Sometimes, you slip on a pair of shoes expecting them to completely destroy your feet five minutes in, but rather, they surprise you. Yeah, well, that’s pretty much the case every time I put on a pair of sandals from Elleme.
Up Next: I’m Over “Basic” Sandals—Here Are the 5 Trends I’m Into Instead