The best sandals for the office
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The subject of sandals in the office can be a divisive one. Where some say the workplace is fair game for getting your toes out, others believe sandals shouldn’t be worn unless the wearer is in close proximity to the beach. As high summer rolls in, and the thought of wearing closed-toe shoes leaves you in a sweat, it’s possible to find a compromise between styles that are breathable but which don’t feel out of place in the boardroom.
“I think you can create an incredibly polished look for the workplace if styled in the appropriate way,” says Libby Page, senior market editor at Net-a-Porter. Sharp tailoring works best with strappy, minimal sandals, she says, as does a mid-length dress with something on the chunkier side.
Financial Times deputy fashion editor Carola Long points to the “understated, androgynous quality of fisherman sandals”, such as The Row’s minimal pebbled calf-skin versions, or super-sized platform iterations by Loewe and Prada. “They manage to look artisanal, traditional and bohemian and remind me of Pablo Picasso who used to wear them,” she says.
Birkenstock’s recent collaborations with fashion houses are another winning formula, elevating the casual, podiatrist-approved shoe to stylish office wear. Manolo Blahnik’s designs for the German sandal-maker include luxurious velvet with diamanté detailing and calf hair with monochrome polka dots, while Dior has rendered the brand’s iconic Boston style in felted grey this season. For HTSI style director Isabelle Kountoure, these designer collaborations achieve the “chic and comfortable” sweet spot.
Younger, independent brands are also getting a foot in the door this summer: Melbourne-based A Emery’s latest collection of minimal flats has just launched on Net-a-Porter. “How our sandals pair with a tailored suit is always my first consideration when designing,” says designer Anna McLaren, who launched the brand in 2017 after struggling to find the perfect versatile, all-black pair.
Meanwhile Ancient Greek Sandals co-founder and designer Christina Martini suggests styles with an extra lift for the workplace. “Our new flat-forms are perfect for strolling, running errands and being in the office,” she says. “The substantial sole is really comfy for walking to work and meetings, and generally being busy.”