How To Wear Sandals With Everything Already In Your Wardrobe


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Sandals are enjoying a renaissance of late. Time was when you might only wear them on holiday or at the gym, but these days they are fair game in the city as much as on the sand.

Open-toed footwear comes in many forms, so deciding how to wear sandals really depends on your personal style and what kind of look you’re after. For streetwear fiends there’s hiking-style sandals or sliders; for those after comfort, Birkenstocks are ever-popular; and for those looking for something smarter, designer and high street stores are rarely short of smart leather sandals that can be dressed up further with tailored trousers.

However, with a growing range of acceptable sandals comes greater scope for getting things wrong. Make one foul move, and you’ll end up looking like a lost German tourist on the way to Disneyland. Do them well though, and you’ll be both stylish and comfortable under the summer sun, ready to tackle a city break or head from the beach to the bar and even dinner with ease.

With Suit Separates

River IslandRiver Island

In traditional circles, the idea of tailoring and sandals being worn together is sartorial sacrilege. As long as a few caveats are taken note of, however, it’s no longer a pairing that will see you handed an Anti-Social Behaviour Order by the Savile Row society.

The first rule is no socks, especially not white ones designed for sport. The sandals you choose are also of the utmost importance. Avoid flip-flops, which are too casual to fly with lapels, and instead opt for a discreet pair in black or navy which are free from logos or patterns.

Next up is the tailoring that you pair with your sandals. Suit separates will de-formalise your look, lessening the severity of the high-low contrast. Choose dark trousers which match your sandals to keep a clean line. For balance up top, throw on a neutral blazer, and finish with a grandad collar shirt in white to hit the sartorial sweet spot on the smart-casual continuum.

– Luke Sampson, associate editor

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With Chinos


If you have any lingering doubts about how easy to wear sandals have become, try them with the simplest outfit in the entire canon of summer menswear: chinos and a T-shirt. This pedestrian pairing actually becomes a little more interesting with the addition of sandals, and you can steer one of two ways with your choice of colours and how functional the footwear is.

Blacks, greys and earthy shades give you vague man-of-the-world vibes, even if you’re a metropolitan commuter shoulder-charging tourists out of your way en route to the office. For that look, a chunky sandal like a Birkenstock is your best best. Alternatively, go coastal with some cropped stone chinos, a tucked-in tee and Clubmasters. Here, the Riviera playboy in you will demand dressier sandals, so look for something strapping and strappier in fine black leather.

– Ian Taylor, editor-in-chief

Chinos with sandals outfit for men

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With Jeans

Unless you reside in a permanently tropical locale (rather than an island regularly described as ‘soggy’), it stands to reason that you might struggle when the mercury begins to rise. But wearing sandals doesn’t have to mean pulling a complete wardrobe 180. In fact, it’s entirely possible to wear sandals with the pieces already hanging in your wardrobe. Case in point: jeans.

Though sandals and full-length denim worn in conjunction might bring to mind images of frat bros (particularly ones who call flip-flops ‘thongs’), done right, the two can make for an extremely handsome pairing.

Light wash jeans in a slim fit are inherently more casual than selvedge types, and therefore make for a wise choice that won’t jar with laid-back footwear. Slipping into jeans also probably means that shorts feel a little too optimistic, so bolster your defences up top with some lightweight summer knitwear and maybe some minimalist sneakers in your bag because you never know (except you do).

– Luke Todd, deputy editor


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With Swimwear

New LookNew Look

Smarter than the flip-flop and sliders, the technical-looking hiking sandal is as formal as you need to go for beach holiday footwear.

Granted, being covered in straps you lose that slip-on and go functionality, but what you gain with the extra fabric is the ability to transition far easier to the bar and even the restaurant without getting side-eye from other guests.

To avoid looking like, how do we put this, a total creep looking for the nearest nudist beach, this is not a sandal style to pair with speedos. Stick to tailored swim shorts and a dark neutral top to bring out that newly formed tan.

– Richard Jones, staff writer

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With Tailored Trousers

Mr PorterMr Porter

While they may not be the first shoe you consider slipping into with a smart pair of trousers, sandals are surprisingly easy to pair with a sharp bottom half. You just need the right pair of each. For the trousers, think a slightly wider leg, but with a gentle taper down to a cropped ankle, which should finish an inch or two above the sandals.

This isn’t going to be an office look, despite the trousers’ formal lean. But a leather strapped pair of sandals extracts as much smartness as possible, meaning, when worn with a Cuban collar shirt, this is an outfit firmly in the realm of smart-casual attire.

For the sandals themselves, go for black or brown leather and opt for a chunkier rubber sole, which will offer better impact protection against thin leather soles, and should ideally last longer.

– Charlie Thomas, senior editor

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With Shorts

Fashions change. That’s kind of the point, after all. Sandals, however, well that’s a Lazarus-like resurrection no one saw coming.

Having been stuffed inside socks for the last 10 or so months, it’s not hard to see the appeal of open-toed footwear. Your feet deserve a breather (pedicure pending), and done right, you don’t have to wait until touch down to let your toes fly free.

Though wearing sandals with shorts on holiday is a combination that comes as naturally as sipping margaritas at 10am; once back on home turf, pulling off this look takes a little more thought.

To tone down the statement of baring more leg than a victorian strumpet, opt for a tonal look comprised of dark, muted colours on classic pieces like tailored shorts and a well-cut T-shirt. Oh, and that margarita as an accessory.

– Luke Todd, deputy editor

Gieves & HawkesGieves & Hawkes

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With Socks

Urban OutfittersUrban Outfitters

Yup, socks – white ones. If there’s any trend that perfectly illustrates how fashion has re-embraced everything that was once considered naff, it’s this. Ten years ago, the only people wearing white socks with sliders were ex-gangsters in witness protection wondering where it all went wrong. Today, it’s a statement look that started as irony but soon twisted into something else – cool because it’s not cool, like bumbags, sports sunglasses and hiking gear.

This is Marmite menswear, clearly, but if you’re into it, there are a couple of ways you can go. For anyone bold enough to go full scumbro, try short shorts, a vest and printed shirt to nail the sleazy motel aesthetic. Or play it several degrees safer with some neutral black shorts and a block-colour tee, repping retro sportswear brands wherever possible.

It also helps if you’re under 30 for this one. Sorry.

– Ian Taylor, editor-in-chief

White socks with sliders outfits for men

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With A Suit

Massimo DuttiMassimo Dutti

There’s no way wearing a suit with sandals is ever going to be anything other a smart-casual tailoring play, so don’t even think about trying to pair one with your dinner jacket. James Bond at fashion week, you are not.

The best move is to pair your mandals (okay, so no one should actually call them that) with summer tailoring staples like a linen suit and a printed shirt. As sandals are already a rogue move for suiting, tone down the rest of the look with an easy-to-wear suit in a classic colourway.

On your feet, it stands to reason that fancier leather options will work best. A black pair serves to compliment the navy just as well as a pair of polished Oxfords would.

– Richard Jones, staff writer

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