Oxfords and loafers usually get all the love when it comes to stylish men’s shoes, but over here, we’re big believers in the classic flip-flop. In fact, we’re going to make a wild argument: stylish men can wear sandals without a visit from the fashion police. Here, we’re going to cover why you should invest in a good pair of sandals, how to choose fashionable sandals and the best sandals for men based on what you’re looking for in a sandal.
Things You Need to Know Before Buying
Before we tell you what sandals you should buy, we’re first going to tell you why you should buy sandals and how to wear them so you don’t look like a stereotype of tacky suburban dad fashion.
The Argument in Favor of Sandals
Listen, we get it. You’re an Oxford man.
But for all the hate sandals get (sometimes justifiably), let’s dispel one illusion right now: yes, you can be a stylish, well-dressed male and still get away with wearing sandals. The trick is to wear the right kind of sandals and to wear them on the right occasion.
Usually, sandals are best used on two occasions:
- The beach
You can even get away with sandals for boating if the rest of your outfit doesn’t clash horribly with sandals. It’s all about knowing how to wear sandals properly.
Choosing the Sandal for Your Style
With the right styling, you can absolutely look well-dressed in sandals. Just not in $2 flip-flops from Walmart. The problem for most men is that they don’t actually know how to wear sandals properly.
When in doubt, follow these sandal rules:
- Don’t go granola
- What happens on the hike stays on the hike
- Don’t mix formalwear and sandals
- Do not, under any circumstances, pair socks and sandals
If you don’t know what granola means, it’s pretty simple: Birkenstocks and similar sandals are designed primarily for comfort. As such, they should only be worn on cozy nights in. The same rule applies to sandals meant to be worn as activewear. If you don’t plan on going hiking, don’t wear sandals designed for hiking. Sort of like how you shouldn’t ever wear Air Jordans with a three-piece suit.
Need more tips? Check out our apparel blog and then read on for the best sandals to suit your style.
Top 10 Best Sandals for Men
Now that you know what you’re looking for in a sandal (and how not to look like a dork while wearing them) let’s take a closer look at the best sandals for men currently on the market for fashion-forward guys.
Best Men’s Sandals: Casual
The Rainbow sandal is the sandal you and your kids will fight over because they keep stealing them and want to be cool like you. Whether or not you ever get them back depends on whether you buy your kids their own. It’s made of top-of-the-line nubuck leather embossed with the Rainbow logo. It’s double-stitched and triple glued for stability, all with bonded nylon thread.
Rainbow has been a go-to for surfer flip-flop for years, and once you own your own pair, you’ll understand why. They’re easy, effortless, inexpensive, and age with style and grace to spare.
Best Men’s Sandals for Walking
If you’re in the market for a truly great all-around sandal, the Chaco Z/2 Unaweep is a great sandal for the money. You’ve got a lugged outsole for maximum traction, a toe-loop for extra control, heel risers for extra comfort, and adjustable straps for stability. Oh, and it’s quick drying and generally resistant to bad odor buildup. Basically, it’s everything you’re looking for in a sandal, but better.
Best Mens Slide Sandals
The Hari Mari Dunes flip-flops have the lightness of $5 flip-flops and the durability of sandals worth five times as much.
As the name implies, these are great sandals for a day at the dunes (or the campsite, or the lake). It’s a boat-style shoe with soft-squeeze insole cushions, a beveled outsole edge, and memory foam toe posts, all of which add up to a sandal that will keep you comfortably blister-free all day. Plus, for every pair bought, Hari Mari donates $3 to children fighting pediatric cancer, so your purchase goes towards a good cause.
Best Hiking Sandals Mens
If you love hiking but don’t want to walk around in the sandal equivalent of a hiking boot, check out the ECCO Yucatan. It’s an all-day, casual type of sandal that doesn’t look like you’re going to go exploring the Amazon (but can still hang in there for a light hike or two).
They’re sturdy sandals with three adjustable straps, using soft padding on the upper and cushioning in the footbed that molds nicely to your feet. If you’re packing for travel days and you know you’re going to have hot weather, make sure to put these sandals in your suitcase.
Best Men’s Sandals with Arch Support
Full disclosure: Birkenstocks do come with a break-in period. But once you’ve broken in your Birkenstock Arizona unisex sandals, you’ll never want to take them off. Once they’re broken in, these sandals are perfectly molded to your feet for the comfort you didn’t even know you were missing. This makes them some of the best men’s sandals for flat feet.
Of course, there are other design elements that help: the spaciousness for the toes, the deep cushion in the heel, a contoured footbed for maximum support, and synthetic suede straps that are conveniently resistant to tearing. Better still, you have a range of style options available from metallic to broken-in iron-oiled leather. As we said, you’ll never want to take them off.
Best Men’s Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis
If you’re the kind of guy who knows his way around sandals, you’ve probably heard of Teva and their reputation for designing superior beach and camping sandals. The Teva Terra Fi Lite is no exception. If anything, it’s the perfect balance between the two.
It starts with the brand’s trademark Shoc Pad, which provides absorption and comfort regardless of your daily activities. Then there’s the polyester webbing that’s hardy and dries quickly, so you’re not walking around in Spongebob shoes all day. Pair with an adventure-ready shirt and shorts and you’re ready to take on the trails (or the beach, whatever suits your fancy). Just make sure to clean them so they stay looking sharp.
Best Men’s Leather Sandals
It’s not an exaggeration to say the Reef Draftsman is a classic. Alright, it’s a reinvented classic, but doesn’t that make it even better?
This sandal, made of a deep chocolate full-grain leather upper and footbed, is the perfect sandal for easygoing summer evenings if you’re the kind of guy who appreciates finer materials. It’s also a happy marriage of fashion and functionality–there’s a bottle opener built into the footbed because the guys at Reef have their priorities in the same order you do (good shoes, good drinks).
Best Men’s Sandals 2017
If you’re a die-hard hiker who prefers not to sweat your feet off when summer rolls around, check out the Keen Newport H2 sandals. They perform best in water, but they can more than hold their own on moderate to steep hikes. There’s a lot of toe protection (all the better for long hikes), as well as traction and grip that will work on both wet and dry rocks.
Better still, they’re machine-washable, they dry quickly, and they’re soft while being sturdy. Why aren’t you hiking with these yet? If you want extra water protection to make these go the extra mile, check out our guide to the best waterproofing spray for shoes.
Best Men’s Sandals of 2019
The beauty of OluKai is their attention to detail, and you can see it on display in their Kohana flip-flop from the first moment you lay eyes on it–there’s gorgeous detailing in the brown leather soles, what OluKai calls “tropical embellishments”. In plain English, that means you’re looking at a handsome flip-flop that packs way more style than its compatriots and still performs nicely whether they’re paired with swim trucks or a sharp pair of chinos. Basically, it’s a summer essential.
Best Lightweight Men’s Sandals
With the Phantom Free Elite, Hurley achieves something impressive: a sandal that rivals the lightness and comfort of an athletic sneaker. You’ll have traction whether you’re walking on sand or a pool deck with the hexagonal grooves in the outsole (and they’re pretty comfortable to boot). Plus, you’ll be hard pressed to find a sandal that manages a sleek combination of black rubber and leather more effortlessly than Hurley.