I'm Freaking Out—These 6 Summer Shoes Are Anti-Trend, Old Money, and So Luxe


(Image credit: @_marisamartins_)

For those dialed in, the emergence of quiet luxury isn't just a trend—it's a sartorial pathos that's been around long before it went viral. Embracing this concept has never been about splurging on designer things. It's deeper than that. If the philosophy were to be boiled down, it would be best summarized by the late Vivienne Westwood: "Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity." Essentially, you don't have to be rolling in dough to look good. You just have to be more intentional with your purchasing power. 

You can be more thoughtful with how you shop in numerous ways, from building a capsule wardrobe to shopping from sustainably-minded fashion brands. But the easiest way is to start from the ground up (quite literally) with your footwear choices. Deciding to opt for more timeless silhouettes will keep you from continuing to run through the endless trend cycle and help you save money in the long run. 

Curious about which footwear options live up to the bill? I've scoured 2023 runway collections and Instagram to identify six elegant summer shoe styles that minimalists rely on to add a touch of luxury to their ensembles. Whether you've got an off-shore trust fund or are on a strict budget, these shoes will ensure you look chic all summer (and then some). 

1. Barely-There Sandals


(Image credit: @deborabrosa)

What's one elegant summer footwear option you can rely on to make you look like you have an off-shore trust fund? Strappy sandals. More specifically, you want to shop for silhouettes that feel and look barely there. The sandal style is characterized by its skinny straps, thin footbeds, and architectural heels—all in neutral hues. A visual reference is the buzzy Bare Sandals from The Row. These sandals don't scream for attention—they whisper. 

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2. Ballet Flats


(Image credit: @lefevrediary)

Searching for summer shoes that strike the perfect balance between trend-forward and timeless? Look no further than ballet flats. While the style has undoubtedly risen in popularity, thanks to S/S 23 and F/W 23 runway collections from Miu Miu, they're still a very functional and fashionable footwear option because of how versatile they are. You can style them with just about anything and shop them in every type of fabrication (e.g., satin, leather, mesh, crochet). Ballet flats dance the line between trendy and timeless en pointe.

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3. Elevated Thongs


(Image credit: @monikh)

I know what you're thinking. "Flip-flops, really? How are those the embodiment of luxury?" But hear me out: Thongs are where it's at right now. While this sandal style may conjure visions of a pair of gauche plastic versions worn by tourists on vacation, that's not what I'm talking about. Over the past few seasons, I've seen designers elevate thongs by centering minimal silhouettes (e.g., platforms were made sleeker, and thongs were given thin kitten heels). Plus, these versions of flip-flops are made from more luxurious materials, thoughtful hardware, and classic colorways. Making them one of the most stylish sandals you can invest in for summer. 

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4. Retro Sneakers


(Image credit: @nlmarilyn)

What's another type of footwear that hasn't always had an elegant reputation but has become a beloved staple among minimalists? Sneakers. Don't be fooled. These aren't your basic pair of kicks or the overly hyped capsule collections. For luxury enthusiasts, it's all about making a run for those highly coveted retro-sneaker silhouettes that sell out overnight—think New Balance's 574 or Addidas's Sambas. Because it doesn't get more anti-trend or timeless than a pair of sneakers pulled out of the archives. 

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5. Slingback Heels


(Image credit: @daniellejinadu)

Just because it's summertime doesn't mean you have ample time off. We all have to work (unless you're already a billionaire), which makes the requirement for office-apropos footwear all the more imperative. You need a pair of shoes that will be the workhorse of your office wardrobe, and none are more suited to the job than slingback heels. Want to pair them with a suit? They work. A high-neck midi dress? Also works. They put in the work of making any item feel more formal in the summer so that you can spend less time sweating about what to wear. 

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6. Minimal Slides


(Image credit: @symphonyofsilk)

If you can't picture yourself wearing closed-toe shoes in the summer, you're not alone. It can become too debilitating to even think about what you're going to wear when it's sweltering hot outside. You want effortless pieces you can throw on and know that you look chic—enter minimal slides into the chat. Unlike other slides that are often chunkier in form and spotted poolside, these sandals are far more minimal in nature. The style often features a flat footbed with no platform, an arch strap that's typically made from woven leather of some form, and comes in neutral colorways. Sure, it can feel like a basic sandal, yet its simplicity is what made it a beloved stylish staple among the fashion set every season. 

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6. Contemporary Wedges


(Image credit: @annabelrosendahl)

Lastly, we'd be remiss if we didn't include one final style that embodies quiet luxury: contemporary wedges. When most think of this signature summer footwear, they might think of those dated linen espadrilles or raffa-adorned wedges, but that image is far-off from what we're talking about. In recent S/S 23 collections (see: Khaite or Tamara Mellon), we've seen brands give wedges a timeless feel by creating heel shapes that feel almost architectural or geometric. And unlike the past versions, which relied on more "cliché" summer materials, these are often made from glossy patent leathers or crisp neutral linens only to be adorned with slinky straps and minimal hardware. But what makes them genuinely worth buying (just like the other styles in this story) isn't that they have more bougie details but that they can transition from summer to fall and still look elegant as ever.

Next: Yes, You Can Wear Ankle Boots In Summer—Here Are 16 Ways to Do It

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman is a fashion editor living in New York City. What began as a hobby (blogging on Tumblr) transformed into a career dedicated to storytelling through various forms of digital media. She started her career at the print publication 303 Magazine, where she wrote stories, helped produce photo shoots, and planned Denver Fashion Week. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as MyDomaine's social media editor until she was promoted to work across all of Clique's publications (MyDomaine, Byrdie, and Who What Wear) as the community manager. Over the past few years, Jasmine has worked on Who What Wear's editorial team, using her extensive background to champion rising BIPOC designers, weigh in on viral trends, and profile stars such as Janet Mock and Victoria Monét. She is especially interested in exploring how art, fashion, and pop culture intersect online and IRL.