Rejoice, ye lovers of late 1980s/early 1990s fashion and bunion sufferers alike! I'm here to herald the triumphant return of the world's most comfortable shoe/amphibious sandal hybrid, the much-maligned original Teva. You remember having a pair of Tevas, don't you?
The adjustable, Velcro-strapped Teva sandal turns thirty years old this year, and was originally designed by a Grand Canyon river guide who needed a shoe that could stand up to slippery riverbed rocks. (As someone who has a pretty decent shin scar from slipping on a slimy rock while tubing in a river barefoot, I can totally appreciate their design.) The Teva sandal had a huge burst of popularity in the early 1990s, then slowly drifted into oblivion, only worn by Phish fans and Hackey Sack champions. I'll admit that when I first heard of the 2014 rebirth of Tevas, I scoffed. But then I saw all the brilliant colors they come in now and started to soften.
I can't believe I'm admitting this, (especially after the great comfort sandal debacle of summer 2013) but they are, dare I say it, kind of cute? I had a pair of the original Teva sandals back in the day as a kid, and I only wore them to water parks and on my parent's boat. While they weren't high fashion, they sure were functional. I'd never given a thought to ever wearing a pair again, but now that I'm hella interested in shoes to accommodate my bunions, I was inclined to give these new candy-colored Tevas a chance. (The fashion world has certainly embraced them, if that's anything to go by.)
The publicists are trying to say you should wear the new Teva sandals to Coachella, and I get it -- it's hot out there! But I think that is the very last place you should wear them, because your feet will be filthy by the end of the day and the likelihood of some drunk dude stepping on your toes is quite high. At any outdoor festival, it's boots or bust, baby.
I actually got two pairs of Tevas for the purposes of this post -- one pink and one turquoise, my very favorite colors. (But no, I didn't wear them out of the house as a mismatched pair!)
Tevas are just as comfortable as I remember them, that's for sure. I do think they run a bit big -- so if you are in between sizes I'd suggest going down a size. As far as how to style them, well, that's a whole 'nother deal entirely. They were the teensiest bit hard for me to pull off because they are pretty 'sporty', something I decidedly am NOT. I think the trick to making them work is pairing them with something that has no whiff of sporting to it at all -- in fact, they are best when worn with something just a little too fancy for them.
The most obvious way to wear the new Teva sandal is to amp up the 90s nostalgia factor with an acid-wash inspired jumper dress and a pair of leather-covered button earrings with a big, gaudy logo. (Topping the whole thing off with a rich-girl gold chain-strap crossbody bag, of course.)
The Tevas definitely need a bit of whimsy to work, and a vintage-look Mickey Mouse sweatshirt fits the bill. But lest the whole thing get too far into kitsch land, a pair of preppy seersucker shorts tempers it nicely.
An element of Palm Beach Versace-esque style is a good foil for such a casual shoe -- and wearing a pair that matches your pants is a clever way to throw a bit of "Duh, I meant to do that" style. (Plus a neon bag draws your eye up and away from your sporting feet.)
When I first started writing this, I was all set to tell you not to even consider trying to wear a patterned pair of Tevas, as they are way too much of a throwback look. But a pair of thrashed, rolled up boyfriend jeans paired with a delicate top and rose gold-toned accessories is actually the perfect way to tone down the inherent hippie-dippy feeling the patterned Tevas give off.
I ended up wearing my Tevas to a fancy work lunch with a black and white party dress and some colorful plastic jewelry. You know what? Nobody even noticed or commented that I was technically wearing rubber-soled sporting sandals when famous people were present. Which is just more proof that nobody is really paying any attention to what I wear, so I should just say screw it and let my feet be comfortable all summer long.
I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison.