Men’s sandals lost their credibility when German tourists decided to make them a staple of their touring wardrobe. Sturdy and breezy, wearing sandals makes perfect sense when sauntering over sun-scorched surfaces. But fashion dreads function, so that utility also means sandals are adept at killing looks. Or, rather, they were. Men’s sandals have made a spectacular comeback, and they’ve become a real trend again. They’ve gone as far as making appearances in luxurious fashion shows, paired with chunky socks. If you told me sandals and socks were going to be a thing in 2020, I wouldn’t have believed you.
But here we are. Sandals have become acceptable footwear around the city, and you have a plethora of options in regards to how to wear them. It all comes down to personal style and the type of look you’re after. Streetwear enthusiasts prefer hiking-style sliders or sandals. Those seeking something more comfortable look for something like the Birkenstocks, whereas those looking for something on the smarter or designer spectrum can find a wide range of leather sandals that go great with tailored trousers. But with the growing range of wearable men sandals comes greater scope of getting the look completely wrong.
One wrong move and you’ll end up looking like a lost German tourist or an American dad on their way to Disneyland. If you get them right, however, you’ll be not only comfortable in the hellish Australian weather, but you’ll also be stylish, ready to head from the beach to the bar or walk around the city pridefully. There are a couple of basic rules you need to follow when wearing men sandals, and there are a couple of outfits that let you pull off the look easily. The most important rule to follow is – no socks. I don’t care about what you see on the catwalk, the models probably hate the look as well. Avoid flip-flops. They’re too casual to wear with semi-formal clothes, and instead get a discreet pair in navy or black that don’t have any patterns and logos.
The most basic look you can pull off with sandals is wearing them with the simplest outfit in the entire arsenal of summer menswear: a plain t-shirt and chinos. This casual pairing can become a little more interesting with sandals, and you can go in one of two directions with the look in terms of colours and functionality. Earthy, grey and black shades combined with Birkenstocks will give you a sophisticated man of the world-like look. Alternatively, you can get a more coastal look with some fine black leather sandals, Clubmasters, a tucked-in tee and cropped stone chinos.
If you’re braver, you can pair mens sandals with the ultimate piece of male clothing – jeans. This is proof that you don’t have to completely overhaul your wardrobe to make a pair of mens sandals fit. Although pairing sandals and jeans runs the risk of making you look like a frat bro, if you do it properly, you can pair the two handsomely. Slim fit light wash jeans are far more casual than their selvedged counterparts, which makes them a wiser choice that won’t jar with casual footwear like sandals.
And if you’re looking to hit the beach and do some bar hopping in between, get some technical-looking sandal. Granted, sandals with straps rob you of the slip-on-and-play functionality, but the extra fabric makes them more acceptable in bars and even restaurants. To avoid looking like a complete creep looking for the nearest nudist beach, try not to pair sandals and speedos, and just get tailored swim shorts and a neutral to dark top.
While sandals probably aren’t the first footwear you think about slipping into with a smart pair of trousers, you can still pair them with sharp bottom wear easily. You just need the right pair of trousers, and the right pair of sandals. Look for trousers with a slightly wider leg, but that feature a gentle taper down to a cropped ankle that finishes a few centimetres above the sandals. While this certainly won’t be an office look, no matter how formal the trousers are. However, a pair of leather, strapped sandals will complement them well and extract quite a bit of smartness, especially when combined with something like a Cuban collar shirt.
Fashion changes, which is kind of the point. However, the comeback of sandals is like Jesus resurrecting – nobody saw it coming. Having to wear socks and shoes for the majority of the year, it’s not hard to see why many men find appeal in open-toed footwear. Your feet deserve a breather, and a pedicure probably. It’s 2020, take care of how you look, it’s not as taboo anymore. And although wearing sandals on holiday is as normal as sipping margaritas at 11 am, once you’re back on home ground, pulling them off takes slightly more consideration.