Sandals: Slides and huaraches, open-toe and closed

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Espadrilles are my preferred, casual summer shoe. I’ve always liked their clean lines and simplicity, which make them more elegant than pretty much any other option. I also quite like the massage-like feeling of walking on rope. They’re cheap, easy and surprisingly not ubiquitous.

However, there are times I like and wear sandals. There are two main reasons – one old and one new – and I’ll explain those, which models I like and why, and discuss other sandal options in this post.

The first reason, which has existed as long as I’ve been going on holiday, is having a shoe to quickly slip on and off. Like many people, a lot of the time I’ll be barefoot – around the villa, around the pool – and it’s useful to have something to slip on just to get across the gravel or the grass. It’s also nice around the beach of course – as you walk out to the sand, as you come back out.

Espadrilles can be used like this, with the back folded down, and there is something pleasingly dégagé about it - in the same spirit as a sweater literally thrown around the shoulders. But sandals will always be that touch easier, and of course are happier around the water than espadrilles*.

The sandals I wear in this vein is the ‘Bande Coupée’ from Rondini, pictured above.

Still made in the same location in St Tropez, the Bande Coupée is simple but quite functional for a slider, with slits that help the strap fit better on the foot, and leather that moulds effectively. They were apparently the model for the H-shaped Hermes sandal.

Lucas turned me on to Rondini, and I’ve been pleased with how they’ve worn. I haven’t tried any of the other models though, as this was the only style I needed, so if any readers have experiences with the others I’d be interested to hear how comfortable and long-lasting they’ve been.

The other obvious sandal would probably be Birkenstock, and I have worn them in the past. They’re a great company and a great product, and I’m not even put off by how ubiquitous they’ve become.

But they are chunkier – deliberately often, ergonomically – and I don’t find they work as well with a slimmer or more refined style: better with more casual, perhaps streetwear or workwear style.

Of course, as discussed recently, I don’t really like wearing open-toed sandals outside of holiday or the home. They feel out of place to me, like shorts in the office.

(And at the very least, if men are going to wear sandals like that to the café, or the library, they need to learn to look after their toenails. Women go to some effort here for a reason.)

How about closed-toe sandals though? Fisherman styles have become popular recently, perhaps driven by a shared desire to stay cool, and comfortable, plus casual but not quite as casual as a pair of Havaianas.

Tony touched on a few options in his Riviera-style article, including those from Church’s, Paraboot, Ralph Lauren and Ludwig Reiter. He’s a fan of the ‘Triestiner’ from Reiter, which has a series of holes around the front (so more closed than most).

Personally I find a lot of these sandals too chunky. Not the Triestiner, but the Pacific from Paraboot, Steve Mono sandals, La Botte Gardiane or the French military from Blackhorse Lane.

It makes sense that they’d be like this of course, given they’re styles for fishermen or similarly functional occupations. But the combination of thick (often grained) leather, wide lasts and often contrasting soles makes them too coarse for my style.

Still, I’ve been thinking about the style for a few years, and decided after various try-ons that the slimmer, truly closed-toe style from Church’s and Ralph Lauren was one that might work for me.

Unfortunately this model only seemed to be sold by companies with big, big-company mark-ups, and that held me back - until earlier this summer, when I managed to get the pair above from RL Purple Label second-hand.

One thing that attracted me to the style when I tried it on, weirdly, was how nice it felt with socks.

Socks and sandals, of course, have a bit of a dodgy reputation (even though brands like Ghiaia are doing a lot to reclaim it). But this is different – fine, dress socks, worn tone-on-tone with similar sandals.

It sounds odd, but the combination has both practical and historical justifications. Practical, because it’s actually very cool given the thin socks, and fairly subtle in style. And historical, because this is how many summer shoes were originally worn, whether sandals or espadrilles. It was cooler than a regular shoe, but you still wanted to cover your toes and ankles.

Of course, such a historical precedent should never be taken too far (and often is, by classic menswear fans). At the most I think it should prompt you to question modern assumptions – rather than ignore them and adopt period dress.

That questioning has worked quite well for me here, however. This isn’t an everyday look, and it won’t be for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend readers wear it into the office with their tailoring on Monday. I’m also fully aware it might be something that, next summer, I look back on and decide was a wrong turn. But so far it’s a fun experiment, didn’t break the bank, and I like the combination of subtlety and originality.

It could even prove to be a stepping stone to other sandals, like those Ghiaia ones (below) or a slimmer Paraboot model like the Ferret/Aragon. (Although I do prefer it when they have more of a captoe – a real closed-toe).

Other options in this area are the almost-closed sandal from Adret, shown below. I like the simplicity of these, but found them a little too chunky for everyday wear.

Then there are huaraches, which I’ve tried in the past. These can be very functional and achieve the same effect of a closed-toe sandal, in being cool but covering much of the foot.

The issue I usually have with huaraches is that they’re often wide, with big soles or (in the case of some Chamula) contrast leather. But I did try a pair from US brand Nisolo recently, based on a reader’s recommendation, and they were much better.

The only issue there was the quality - OK for the price but not as good as Chamula or Rondini. Perhaps there’s a bit of a gap here, for a range of huaraches and similar sandals that are between the high street and the top makes in terms of quality.

Clothes shown with Rondini sandals:

Clothes shown with Ralph Lauren sandals:

  • Adret ‘Riviera’ shirt in natural handspun cotton
  • Bespoke linen trosuers from Whitcomb & Shaftesbury in Solbiati ‘Art du Lin’
  • Charcoal cotton socks from Anderson & Sheppard Haberdashery
  • Large working tote in chestnut from Frank Clegg
  • T-shirt and sunglasses as above

Photography: Alex Natt

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Ned

Banal point but I’ll never invest in nice leather sandals again because it’s such a roll of the dice whether they’ll give you blisters or not – what works for someone else’s foot may not work for yours. I do have a pair of the Paraboot Pacific and I have to put fabric tape over one bit of stitching on the inside otherwise they’re agony.

H

The outfit in the last picture with the brown tote bag looks very good, perfect almost. The only thing missing would be something on your head like a simple “peci” in dark blue.

I remember as a boy I always had leather sandals with bucles similar to the Ghiaia ones. Usually worn with socks. As an adult I havn’t worn sandals for decades. Maybe I should reconsider sandals for next summer.

Lindsay McKee

Nice article Simon. Admittedly I’ve never heard of Rondini until now. That leather colour reminds me of a range of sandals once sold by Trickers, but sadly no longer.
Would be nice to see a review of Trickers bespoke one day.

Phil

Some lovely casual combinations here. Can you remember what you paid for the riviera shirt? I love Adret but it’s difficult to get information about the products.

Karl

I just googled the April 2021 discussion on Permanent Style regarding the price of the Adret shirt where it is listed for £795. The relevant portion from the article is as follows: “The Adret store: Full-blown beauty
Permanent Style
https://www.permanentstyle.com › 2021/04 › the-adre…
Apr 16, 2021 — The cream Riviera shirt shown at the top of this piece is £795 and the Jack green-linen jacket above £1255. The linen trousers are £655. I won’t …

Phil

Thanks all. And Adam (of Adret), if you’re reading, maybe a bit more info on the website?

Martins

after quick googling, according to one of your old articles, beginning of 2021 riviera shirt was 795£

curious about adret sandals price …

Hrode

I am certain you will consider the sandal-sock combination a mistake coming summer, but long live experimentation.

Peter Hall

I agree with you re:socks with fisherman’s sandals-muted colours ideally. I also find that they are not great with shorts,I wear mine with linen or pale denim.Irealise they are achingly trendy but I find them a great alternative to trainers actually almost a universal casual shoe.

Andreas

One of the reasons I’m not a summer guy (other than the heat) is because the men with the nastiest feet are usually the first ones to wear open-toed shoes. And they LOVE wearing them to restaurants; just what I wanted to see right before eating. If I had a say in it, I’d declare sandals and slides women-only, nobody in the history of mankind ever felt the desire to look at a man’s toes. So yeah, espadrilles all the way.

Alex

I want to challenge this, respectfully. I hear this line about men’s toes repeated in menswear circles yet it has always seemed to me an arbitrary “rule.”

I grew up in a beach town in California. No one had any compunction about men baring their toes in public. It was not scandalous and was simply normal footwear for day to day life in the summer. No, not to the office or a nice restaurant (unless said restaurant was on the beach).

When I got to the East Coast, it was suddenly a faux pas. Something a real man ought not do. But why? I see it indifferently than consternation about a woman baring her ankles.

Andreas

I don’t think the ankles are the problem, it’s the toes in particular. You could argue that in theory, men could take care of their feet to the same standard as women do, but a) they simply don’t do that in 99/100 cases and b) women usually cover their toenails with nail polish, thereby covering up any nastiness that might lurk underneath.

It might seem unfair to accept open-toed shoes on women but not on men, but there are physical differences between the two, which justifies different rules regarding clothes. You and I might not be allowed to show our toes in a fine restaurant, but then again, we’re allowed to walk around topless whenever we’re near a body of water, so there’s that.

Peter K

I wonder when this idea entered western thinking. For centuries sandals were standard footwear and I assume (perhaps wrongly) that men often had toes exposed.

Ben

Interesting this rhetoric of “historical justifications” for how one should dress. In that riviera style article someone justified wearing neckerchiefs by citing soldiers who wore it during battle. Here it’s kind of half-heartedly broached with a vague reference for how sandals were “originally worn.” I wonder how far this line of persuasion can go. Top hats and sock garters? Chainmail and gauntlets? For me and I suspect Simon it’s pretty inert.

Thomas

Nice article. What do you think of Art du Lin as a fabric for the trousers in your last photo? I have a pair of trousers in exactly the same colour as yours. I like it but find it’s a bit warmer than most linens and has a very different texture – almost like a linen flannel. Maybe more of a late spring/early autumn fabric than high summer. I’m intrigued as to how it would make up as a jacket.

Thomas

Thanks. “Linen moleskin” really chimes with my experience, as do all your other observations. Looking forward to seeing the jacket.

Jack

Hi Simon, do you mind if I ask if you went for the same colour for the trousers as you did for the jacket? The trousers look quite casual to me despite being made in a fairly heavy-weight cloth. Do you expect the jacket could be worn casually?

Many thanks,
Jack

Il Pennacchio

Are your Art du Lin trousers made of the 420g plainweave or the 530g twill?

Maxime Barre

Hello Simon,
I own a pair of Steve Mono fisherman sandals for the past three years, in suede, it’s a great product. I don’t really understand your point of view regarding their « chunkiness ». Compared to the Paraboots they’re way slimmer, the sole is quit thin (but very solid) and the shape is elegant. Anyway, thanks for this article !

Eric Michel

Many thanks for this article. I love my Rondini’s which I wear over holidays in seaside cities every time the temperature gets north of 30. I think yours are very nice and look great the way you wear them: very laid back summer vibes. I own several models (it has become a tradition for me to visit their store when going to St Tropez and then I have built a little collection over many years…) and my preferred are, in this order: 1) British (funny name…), really easy to wear, very comfortable and I love the design, 2) Franciscaine, more common, still very comfortable, 3) Tropezienne, the less comfortable by far and finally less of my taste. I wear sandals more and more in summer, maybe a consequence of global warming… but not in cities like London or Paris, more in Saint Tropez, Cap Ferret or in Corsica. My Franciscaine are circa 10 years old, worn every summer in rotation and they are still beautiful with a very nice patina ( I selected the same colour than yours)…

Andrew

Hi Simon. I have a Tropezienne that I bought in the early summer. I was undecided between that model and the pair you have. I ultimately decided for the Tropezienne because the house we rent in the summer is about 1km from the village and I wanted a pair that would be more comfortable to walk back and forth in once or twice a day. Overall I am happy so far with how the sandals have molded to my feet and they are indeed comfortable enough for a leisurely walk of that distance. But they are not quick to get on and off. I will probably go for a pair like you have eventually for something a bit easier to slip on and off.

RW Rhea

This guys knows…

56AECF56-9BAD-42F5-8D9A-965395650EB5.jpeg
AL

Hey Simon,

what do you think of more casual options, like rubber flip-flops, in a simple colour with minimal to no branding?

Peter K

I wear flip flops at the pool or in my martial arts gym. Your comment reminds me of a strange fashion a few years back where women at the office wore “dressy” flip flops. The constant “schwack-schwack” sound as they walked around nearly drove me crazy!

Mayer

Hi there,
First post here. I have been wearing Rondini Tropeziennes every summer for 10ish years. They offer a slim and wider fit for each size. They fit and age perfectly well and look quite elegant compared to the bulkier options tou have otherwise.
Of course you don’t wear them at work and when you get dressed up in town, but it is the only option I do wear apart from unlined EGs or Crockett&Jones in summer.
I have bought 3 pairs over the last 10 years, I recommend a first fit at the boutique to be able to order blindly afterwards. I recommend a good cobbler to fix the heels from time to time.
Cheers,

Scott

Your preferred casual Summer shoe is without doubt the best way. I’d also include a boat shoe of some sort such as the Ranger moc from Rancourt. The most important feature for the casual Summer shoe is that it’s a closed toe. The sandal, slide, or flip flop are atrocious designs for men making them look like overgrown school boys. So gentlemen if you’re tempted, for some inexplicable reason, to wear any of the previously mentioned hideous designs just don’t! Take a deep breath, come to your senses and the temptation will pass!

Kamikar German

When it comes to feet, women are privileged. Because they take care: the nails, the heels; and of course they put nailpolish on. And they can show off with their feet. Right so, because this way women’s feet become sexy (in general). You can’t say the same on men’s feet (in general). Just the opposite is true. Mostly, they are chunky, hairy, callus on heels; simply ugly. And even if they take care, nobody is interested in men’s feet. Nothing to show.It took a long introduction. Now, the gist of the matter is: men shouldn’t show feet. In any case they shouldn’t. It’s so simple. I am wondering why this “rule” is not respected. It doesn’t matter if a sandal is bespoke or expensive or of superior material etc. Just: don’t show your feet.
PS: flip-flops at the pool-side are an unavoidable necessity though.

Dario

What do you wear poolside?

Dario

Sorry, I read “avoidable”… probably need more coffee

Alexander

„When it comes to feet, women are privileged.“
I am sorry, that it precisely not a privilege. It is merely a personal decision how much you care about your physical appearance. Same with your level of fitness etc.

Fred

Hello Simon,
I have been wearing Rondini sandals for about 15 years including the Franciscaines, Egyptien and pouce simple. Mostly in Greece for gardening, beach, building, restaurants during summer and spring and around the house in South Asia.
They last for years and I find them eminently comfortable. I prefer by far the pouce simple. I like the idea of the Franciscaines but always find the backstrap a bother, slips under the heel where it is awkard, same reason i don’t like espadrilles.
On closed toes, I have always been tempted by Edward Green Rangoon in tan but yet to get a pair. Might work with a rumpled linen suit here during the monsoon.

Magnus

The closed toe models really do look nicer in this context. Now that you pointed that out, it’s impossible to unsee.
Do you know of any closed toe versions like the Ghiaia model but a bit less expensive? The Paraboot Ferret would be great if the toe was completely closed. A shame.

Juan Carlos

Hi, Simon. Do you know the Fisherman, of Crockett and Jones? I’ve bought them recently in Madrid, at Exerez, and I like so much! They have the best of the both worlds. The last is the 314, the same that Harvard loafers and the construction and quality is good, the sole can be rubber (mine) or leather. There are in calf (dark brown or tan) or suede. I recommend you! Ah! The socks inside is a brilliant idea!

Malt

Hi Simon
Have you ever tried woven leather shoes? I remember them as a frequent sight back in the early 00’s but don’t see them any longer.
E.g.: https://fellmonger.in/products/tan-woven-leather-oxford-fmbe00420
After many years with Birkenstock, I decided to stop buying their products. The quality has simply deteriorated too much after their commercialization. Instead I picked up a pair of “Jesus sandals”. I feel they offer a more subtle profile and with less of a childish attitude.
https://baunbaekoglyn.dk/products/laedersandal-cognac

Malthe

I’ve personally never used them either, hence my question. My father used to wear vowen shoes regularly and swears by it. I believe it is more common in central europe, German based countries.
My personal experience, is that Birkenstock has declined immensely. I have used them for years and previously they lasted a long time and the cork midsole kept its shape. The never ones i’ve bought just lasted one summer season and the midsole wore out the first. However, they used to be a niche-hippie-health related company and now they’re an branch store kinda thing, so i guess it is to be expected.
Thank you for finding time to reply.

H

Do you wear them too? 🙂

Amon

My father used to wear the Ludwig Reiter Sandals a lot in summer. Always looked much more put together thank most other men, but is also a very unique and kind of a statement look. One does attract attention by wearing them. But to catch someones eye because of looking good, I do not see any problem there haha
Thanks for the tip with the Rondini, they look as good as sandals can look (besides the Hermes Izmir, which are crazy expensive) ! Will get them as my one and last pair of sandals in the near future!
Have a nice week

Dan

I cannot stand the sight of men with their trotters out in any situation other than poolside or at the beach. Who wants to see blokes feet? Certainly not i, though in fairness your hooves are presentable Simon, but lets face it most mens are not ( i include my own) Novesta plimsolls are my go to for summer, Espadrilles and Tom’s will also do.

Dan

I’m sorry Simon. I wasn’t aware that I said anything offensive though! A little bit tongue in cheek but nothing nasty.

Kenneth

Good evening from new york…good article especially when you mentioned huaraches..I am a fan..tomorrow I have 2 pick up my suits from my local haberdashery…you got me thinking…I will wear a pair of huaraches..cheers

Tim J

Hey Simon,
How did you find the sizing of the Rondini slides? I know you tend to vary between and 8.5 and a 9 depending on the brand. Did you end up being a 42 or 43 given they don’t do half sizes?
Cheers,
Tim.

Andrew

Hi Simon. I’m curious why you went with the closed toe sandal in black. It seems to me a bit formal for a summer sandal.

I bought a pair of shoes that are very similar for my 4 year old son for the summer and they have proven to be very handy. (He also has a blue rubber pair for playing on the stones by the sea — maybe a topic for an article next year 🙂 ). I am thinking of getting a pair in calfskin for next summer, in a color like the Ghiaia one in the article. I think this would be the most useful for the summer for me.

Jo

Hi Simon, where are the green trousers from at the top photo? Thanks!

Richard

I’ve found Jerusalem sandals to be robust and modestly priced and smart as far as flip flops/sliders go.
Simon have you found any perforated loafers that you’d recommend? Something that is smart but breathable. Would like something that is a bit dressier than an espadrille.

limekiln

“Espadrilles are my preferred, casual summer shoe. I’ve always liked their clean lines and simplicity, which make them more elegant than pretty much any other option. I also quite like the massage-like feeling of walking on rope.”

I couldn’t have put it better Simon, I only skimmed the article after that resonating introduction. I know your audience is mostly from the anglo world, but espadrilles are ubiquitous in France and a common springtime sight even in the clothing section of the major supermarket chains (SuperU, LeClerc etc.).

Another path to that massage-like sensation on the soles of your feet is wearing linen summer socks (those from Nishiguchi Kutsushsita are outstanding).

Victor Kernes

One other option I’d like to throw out there for Fisherman Sandals, are these from Gardenheir NYC: https://www.gardenheir.com/gardening-apparel/leather-fisherman-sandals-in-otter
I’m hoping to pick up a pair soon and see what the quality is like. Visually, the design looks great. Any other readers try them out before?

Daniel

The pair of black sandals by Churches are great looking but I haven’t the foggiest idea under what circumstances I would wear them. They’re too formal for a night out and not formal enough for work irrespective of temperature. Maybe I could wear them with slim dark jeans for a wander around London.

RAbbott

Are the Rondini slides suitable for the beach? How do they deal with sand? Although not waterproof, if they get splashed at the pool, would they be fine?

Rob

Hello Simon, I was wondering what you think of these from Real McCoys?

https://therealmccoys.com/products/leather-foot-support-clogs_044-taupe

They are quite chunky, and not suitable for a more refined look, but I thought they would go well with casual shorts/t-shirts (thinking of my PS shorts/tapered T in particular).

I think of them as a more high-quality Birkenstock. I don’t want to be “that guy” that bemoans a drop in quality, but I have found that Birkenstocks are less durable than 15 years ago (now the cork breaks down, the tread goes). These Real McCoys ones are similar but I would expect of a better quality. Thanks.

Rob

Many thanks Simon. No, I don’t normally wear wide-legged trousers/shorts – thanks for raising this, and it makes sense that a chunkier shoe would be better with a roomier cut. I’m visiting Tokyo in the autumn and will give them a try at their store.

Thanks again!

Fatih

You’re killing me. Just ordered a pair Rondini sandals. What color are those lovely linen trousers? Is that some kind of taupe?

Mark

While I wholeheartedly agree with the comments on the inappropriateness of sandals in most contexts – for me it’s beach/pool holidays only – I do find it interesting to see other readers speak so highly of Rondini. I’ve looked at their sandals before, but have always found them a bit pricy. Like most readers I don’t mind paying for quality, but I struggle to see where the extra value comes from compared to, say, similar sandals made by brands like Tsakiris (which seem to be on sale everywhere in Greece) that feel just as well made, with seemingly comparable materials and are a quarter of the price. Am I missing something?

Mark

No, I haven’t. To be fair, I’ve worn neither (as on holiday I tend to favour waterproof flip flops round the pool/beach, and either Tod’s City Gomminos or Castañer Pablos out and about), but having looked at a pair from Tsakiris immediately before posting (I’m in Greece at the moment) the materials and construction seemed to be of a pretty decent quality. Which left me wondering about the price difference, ans even accounting for costs associated with manufacturing in St Tropez, the extent of the markup seemed pretty big.

Maybe I’ll buy a pair of the Tsakiris and see how they wear. But good to see that there’s nothing obvious I’ve overlooked!

RSH

Hi Simon – on the more casual / functional side; any recommendations for plastic fisherman sandals? Ie something that you can get wet while still looking respectable.

Amit

Hello Simon. I was looking at these https://blackhorselane.com/collections/footwear/products/french-military-sandals-tan for hot tropical Indian summers to wear with my The Real McCoy’s washed blue jeans / Indigo jeans and my Fatigue trousers (olive). I think tan will be the most versatile colour option and will go with all of the above mentioned trousers. The other colours available are brown, navy and red. Please let me know your thoughts and suggestions?

Daniel

Hello Simon,

Big fan of the natural coloured shirt from Adret. Did you take your usual size or size down to S?

Carl

I am looking at the Solvik sandals from the Swedish brand Myrqvist. They are very similar to Birkenstock in style but a bit higher quality. Would you consider a dark brown or a black version the more versatile. I usually wear cold colors but also dark blue.

https://myrqvist.com/products/solvik-dark-brown-calf?variant=43153540317315

Carl

Unfortunately no pictures of the sandals on their feet. But there is a dark brown version that seems to be quite dark. I think that is the one I want.. But my size is out of stock in that color. So the dark alternatives are black calf or black suede. I will probably wait until the dark brown is back in stock.

Martins

Different colours has pictures on feet… black calf, green suede for example…