Julie Rath: How to Wear Mandals: Tips on Avoiding a Fugly Fashion Mishap

Mandals: the name alone evokes snickers, sneers, and talk of Volvos and wheatgrass. Urban Dictionary defines them as, “An unfortunate fugly fashion mishap involving sandals.”  But I’m here to tell you that the wearing of mandals doesn’t have to be such a hot mess. If you choose wisely, you can avoid embarrassing questions like “how was your hike?” when all you are doing is riding the cross town bus.

When it comes to mandals, less is more. Think fewer straps, buttons and buckles, just say no to velcro, and you’ll be in good shape. As Tim Gunn says, “The more seriously one takes the mandal, the more ridiculous one looks.” Here are some of my fav options available now…

$100 and under

Barneys Sanuk Saddle Up Thong $29

You can’t go wrong with a classic leather thong sandal like these. They’re simple, easy and summery but not as informal as your standard beach flip flop. Throw them on with jeans or chinos, and it’s a done deal.


J Shoes Mirage Sandal $49.99

I’m also very into these Mirage Sandals from J Shoes. The stitching, canvas and rivets give them a cool industrial feel. Originally $148, they’re now marked down to $49.99. Check them here.


First by Jeffrey Campbell Huaraches $99

These First by Jeffrey Campbell huaraches caused a stir when they first appeared on the Loden Dager runway last Fall. If you prefer more coverage than other sandals or flip flops provide, huaraches are a great way to achieve that while still letting your feet breathe. Plus you gotta love their handsome Latin American vibe.


Cole Haan Felipe Thongs $99

I like the added detail of the croc stamping on these leather bad boys from Cole Haan. It gives the look some visual interest and dresses them up slightly.



Saks Fifth Ave V-Strap Sandals $155

Still dressier are these babies from Saks. The leather has a rich, luxurious feel. They would work well with a seersucker or linen suit.


John Varvatos Lakota Woven Slide $122

If flip flops don’t do it for you, check out these woven slides from John Varvatos. I like the variation in texture between the different straps. Also on sale now, these were originally $175.


$200 and up

Ferragamo Leather Sandals $295

These sandals from Ferragamo don’t fail to impress with their contrast stitching and subtly-detailed hardware. A little panache goes a long way.


K. Jacques for Opening Ceremony Sandal $265

For a more lively look — or, if you’re heading to St. Tropez, and you want to make like the locals — check out these limited edition Barigoule sandals from K. Jacques’ first ever collaboration with Opening Ceremony. They’re the Jesus sandal on holiday.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you’re going to bare your toes, make sure they’re clean and well-tended to, and whatever you do, don’t combo up your mandals with socks:

Socks + Mandals = Fugly Fashion Mishap for sure.



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