What makes a sandal stylish is often a matter of taste and opinion. Comfort, however, comes down to specific criteria. Materials, construction, flexibility and breathability are some of the factors that experts take into consideration when evaluating the most comfortable sandals for women—and you should too, if you want a pair you can wear all day that won’t cause blisters or inflame conditions like plantar fasciitis.
You don’t need to shop in a podiatrist’s office, though. Plenty of everyday sandals combine orthopedic details with actually-cool designs. Here’s what to look for: a thick, cushioned sole that’s firm but not too stiff in the midsole and a slightly elevated silhouette or wedge that tapers down to your forefoot, which shifts your weight away tender areas like the heels. Deep heel cups and flexible straps also help cradle your foot and keep it securely in place to prevent pronation or rolling your ankles.
To find a high quality sandal, you have spend a bit more than you normally would for say, a pair of throw-away flip flops or wedges that look cute but make you wince by the end of the day. In this case, you get what you pay for. Still, there are deals to be had. Ahead, 9 of the most comfortable sandals for women that are stylish and kind to your feet.
Best Sandal For Overall Comfort
Sorel Kinetic Sandal
Best Sandals For Walking
Mephisto Helen Sandal
Best Sandals With Arch Support
Skechers Arch Fit
Best Sandals For Plantar Fasciitis
Fitflop Lulu Toe-Post Sandal
Best Sandals Designed By A Podiatrist
Vionic Brandie Flatform Slide Sandal
Best Sandals For Hiking
Teva Women’s Ascona Sport Web Strappy Sandal
Best Supportive Sandals
Geox Gardenia Sandals
Best Recovery Sandals
Hoka Ora Recovery Slide
Best Designer Sandals
See By Chloe Glyn Slide
Best Affordable Sandals
Hush Puppies Sunshine Slides
Best Strappy Sandals
Sorel Ella II Sandal
Best Birkenstock Sandals
Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed Sandal
Best Sport Sandals
Adidas Adilette Slide Sandal
What To Consider When Shopping for Sandals
- Comfort: It almost goes without saying that the sandals you choose must tick all the boxes—for style, support, sturdiness and comfort. According to board certified podiatrist and foot surgeon Jacqueline Sutera of City Podiatry in New York you want a shoe that offers good arch support, to help you maintain your alignment, as well as cushioning, especially since the foot’s natural padding and cushioning decline with age. Also look for a cupped or cuffed heel (the sole will be a little thicker at the back) for extra support, especially if you have plantar fasciitis. Always avoid anything too thin or flat, such as flimsy flip flops, if you want to avoid foot pain later on.
- Materials: Lightweight durable materials hold up well and won’t weigh down your foot. Leather is stylish, hardwearing, easy to clean and flexible in warm or humid weather. Rubber is a more affordable option that also repels moisture. Memory foam is highly flexible but not particularly durable or easy to keep in pristine condition. No matter the material, not every pair of sandals will last forever. Sutera says you should replace your shoes as soon as they show signs of wear and tear. “The support is no longer there. Also avoid buying used shoes as they are worn into another wearer’s foot pattern,” which can lead to pain.
- Size And Fit: Just like clothing, not all shoe sizes are created equal. “Every shoe brand cuts their sizes differently so it’s best to try to pairs and walk in them at home to see if they’re truly comfortable,” recommends Sutera. “Be prepared to go up or down a length or width depending on where the shoes are from.” For example, US sizes runs big while those from Europe run small.
- Heel Height: Avoid anything too flat, since this won’t provide enough cushioning and support, says Sutera. On the flip side, the American Podiatric Medical Association doesn’t recommend anything higher than two inches.
How To Test Your Sandals At Home
The best way to determine the comfort and quality of any shoe is to test them like the experts do, says Sutera. “Bend them to make sure they have some give at the forefoot. They should have a little flexibility, but not too much that you could fold them and put them in your pocket.” Then hold the sandal at the tip of the toe and heel and try to twist them. “They should not be completely twistable—if they are, you’re not getting enough support,” says Sutera. Also push down on the sole to get a sense of the cushioning; it should have a padded or pillow-like section. Lastly, hold the sandal flat horizontally. “Visually, you should see a heel-to-toe drop,” she says, meaning the height of the heel is higher than the toe. “It should look a little thicker in the back,” says Sutera, which ensures your foot will land on the heel comfortably as you walk.