Around this time last year, I posted about my favorite summer sandals that also happened to be outrageously comfortable. A very vocal contingent of readers were disgusted, I mean just disgusted by my selections, and let me have it in the comments.
"This entire post horrified me. I just kept gasping every time I scrolled down."
"Oh my god, I'm so there with you. Each shoe is uglier than the last."
This sweet soul was also dissatisfied, but couldn't really bring herself to be mean:
"I knew the day I'd disagree with Alison would eventually come, but I guess I wasn't fully prepared for how it would feel :( "
I honestly think it was the Crocs that sent them over the edge.
I still stand by those stupid Crocs, they are like a rainbow Funfetti cake in shoe form, and are crazy comfortable to boot! (Plus they are easy to hose off if you happen to step in dog poo.)
The peeps who were most horrified by my suggesting they wear Birkenstocks are almost certainly eating their words this summer, as there is no hotter shoe on the planet right now. Birkenstocks are an absolutely integral part of the fugly shoe trend that is sweeping the nation for summer 2014. If you're feeling fancy, go big with the ultra-chic Givenchy version:
Or just snap up eight different pairs of the originals for the same price:
Here's a secret wardrobe stylist tip: If $100.00 for a pair of Birkenstocks is still a little too rich for your blood, check out the Betula line by Birkenstock, which retails for about half the price.
Let me tell you why the fugly shoe trend is taking hold: women are finally fed up. Enough with crushing our feet into dreadful, uncomfortable footwear just so we aren't written off as boring, unfashionable, ugly, matronly, or granola-y. The fashion powers that be have had it too -- and they're now cramming sensible, comfortable sandals down everyone's throat.
I snapped them up in every single color I could get my hands on, so I can personally vouch for their support and comfort.
If bejeweled footwear isn't your thing, you can still get in on the orthopedic-style sandal trend with these babies:
The old-school wooden Dr. Scholl's sandal of my childhood has gotten a pretty serious upgrade -- and mercifully removed any trace of sharp-edged wood from the equation. (Remember stepping on that edge mid-stride? It would bring you straight to your knees.) The Dr. Scholl's of 2014 feature an adjustable toe and ankle strap, padded footbed, and most importantly, polka dots!
I hadn't heard of Naot sandals until I started looking at options for this post, but I was swayed by their removable, replaceable anatomic cork and latex footbed, which is covered in suede and molds to the shape of your foot with wear. They provide real-deal foot support, babying your arches and hallux (commonly known as your big toe) as if they were newborn infants.
Most of their sandals would fit right in at a bingo parlor, but there are a few pairs that you could play off as having bought on your all-girls road trip to the luxurious Canyon Ranch Spa in Tucson, Arizona.
The gold standard little old lady sandal worn by every hipster girl in Los Angeles is the classic Worshifer. The shock-absorbing sole means you can run a country mile in them, and they all have at least a little bit of a wedge. They are also seriously cute with 1970s style sundresses.
Those of you who like a little whimsy with your sandals should check out the gloriously ticky-tacky offerings of Miss L Fire. They have every manner of crazy, dingy sandal you can imagine -- from hula girls to parrots. (I got a pair last year that had spaceships on them!) For super flat sandals made of vinyl, the Miss L Fire line is shockingly comfortable, so don't be turned off by their novelty nature.
If you want to look like you're one habit away from a nunnery, get yourself a pair of Clarks. Loved by gender studies professors the world over, Clarks may not be the hottest thing going -- but if the ability to walk long distances comfortably is important to you, they simply can't be beat.
Looking for the perfect, comfortable sandal to take you from the roulette wheel to the pool and out to dinner in Las Vegas? Then grab a pair from Onex, a perennial favorite of the super-tanned Boca Raton set. They always feature some combination of cork, jewels, rhinestones, chrome soles, and most importantly -- a luxuriously padded footbed.
If nothing here floats your boat, you can always just convert a pair of sandals you already have into the most comfortable things you've ever owned with a few choice shoe tools from my costume kit. Plus, here are my tried and true solutions to the average sandal wearer's three biggest annoyances.
Keep your feet from sliding forward.
A sandal with even a slight heel can result in your toes scrunching farther and rather forward with every step you take. This usually occurs because the footbed of the sandal is too slick, and the ball of your foot can't get any traction.
Stop it from happening with a stick-in ball-of-foot pad, which gives your foot something to grip onto as you walk. (But don't bother wasting your money on ones that don't come with a sticky back, as they will come loose and fling out of your sandal as you walk.) These are the ones I use on set, and they are miles ahead of any drugstore version you'll find:
If your sliding problem is caused by sweaty feet, try these stick-in suede insoles, meant to absorb sweat and stop feet from scrunching forward. (They also come in a flip-flop version!)
Give ultra-flat sandals instant, invisible arch support.
Wearing super-flat sandals with zero arch support all day long is brutal -- but you can easily pop this adhesive arch support into any sandal and nobody will be the wiser.
Stop straps from slicing your feet to ribbons.
Thin, painful straps that dig into your feet can be remedied in a snap with some strap-sized self-adhesive silicone strips, meant to cut out pinching, rubbing and cutting immediately.
You can also just use the costume designer's ultimate secret weapon, plain old padded moleskin from the drugstore. Grab a pair of scissors, cut to fit, and walk to your heart's content in pure comfort. If it's a pair of thongs or flip-flops that are killing your feet, just pop in a set of these stick-on toe protectors.
I hope this summer 2014 comfort sandal dispatch was everything you dreamed it would be, if not more. And as always, if you hate absolutely everything, let the comment section be your own personal Thunderdome. Have at it!
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison