I Love Wearing Sandals, and These Are the 6 New Trends I'm Into

There are far more important things I'm hoping for this year, but many of them feel far-reaching and beyond reality. So as silly as it may sound, tapping into a new sandal trend for summer 2021 at least feels achievable and even more exciting than it has in years past. I've never been one to turn down a new pair of sandals—they are the thing I look forward to wearing most when the weather turns—and this season won't be any different, as the wide and enticing variety on offer is enough to tempt even the most hardened sneaker wearer. Even if my fancy flip-flops, box-fresh Birkenstocks or retro kitten heels only get as far as around the block for my neighbours to enjoy, that will be good enough for me. Hotter climes and far-off adventures may have to wait, but these sandals will be ready.

Yes, I need a pedicure. Yes, I will probably do a terrible job of it at home. Yes, I will then try hard to ignore my toenails and still wear my sandals regardless. And yes, I'm going to find it hard to choose which style to invest in first, as the below list of sandal trends for 2021 is rather extensive. Some designs are carrying on from last summer's biggest success stories, while others feel like totally new propositions. What you will notice is that there are essentially two disparate sandal camps: On the one hand (foot?), you have super sparkle and all-out glam, while on the other, you have practicality and all-terrain suitability. There's no need to choose a side—you can be both sensible and OTT throughout any given week.

Keep scrolling for the top six sandal trends I think will take off in 2021, and shop the best options for each.

1. FISHERMAN FLATS

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(Image credit: @monikh)

Fisherman sandals are first on the list here because they're first on my personal shopping list. As someone who has spent a lot of time in Tevas, I have become a superfan of comfy, flat sandals that keep my feet firmly in place. These do all of that and feel extra luxe because of the woven leather detailing. Some long-standing brands like Church's or Margaret Howell are well-known for producing this style, but you'll even find them filtering into Zara.

2. KITTEN-HEEL MULES

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(Image credit: @sallyomo)

Are you a once-diehard heel fan who has had to now curb the habit because of lockdown pt. 1,008,673? Same. That's why I'll be turning to mini kitten-heel mules to get the same buzz but with some added ease. 

3. CHUNKY FLIP-FLOPS

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(Image credit: @smythsisters)

I was never a fan of the really flimsy foam flip-flops for use outside of some beach time, but there's something about these more substantial styles that has piqued my interest. The look started with The Row's Ginza flats, but there are more affordable options starting to come through at the likes of Office. Where I'd secretly buy them? FitFlop!

4. '90S STRAPPY

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(Image credit: @chainkyr)

The '90s strappy look started two summers ago and has morphed ever so slightly to include chunky wedges and thicker heels as well as stilettos. This is a great option to buy vintage—Etsy is chock-full of '90s styles right now.

5. CLASSIC BIRKENSTOCKS

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(Image credit: @aka.kimbui)

The official shoes of this COVID era are Birkenstocks. Whether shearling-lined, in suede clog form or just the plain ol' basic Arizona, they are comfortable, democratic, and surprisingly versatile, looking cool with anything from loungewear through to a more elevated work or (whisper it!) party outfit. 

6. SPARKLE

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(Image credit: @mimi.orere)

We're at the point now where putting on some sparkly shoes or an outrageous, flouncy dress is actually the tonic required to get through a long day, so it's no wonder that there's an influx of glamorous and twinkly sandals arriving for 2021. Mach & Mach and Amina Muaddi lead the designer pack on this look.

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the editor in chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was hired to launch a UK sister site and social channels, localise content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 15 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times and MatchesFashion.com, among many others.

Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy toddler and highly Instagrammable cat.