Every summer in cities across the world, millions of feet are set free from leather bondage as women trade their foul-weather Wellingtons and bulky UGGs for open-to-the-elements sandals of every description.

There are golden Ferragamos, with oval open toes and a single strap behind the ankles; Charles Jourdan sandals with cork soles and fake cherries on their plastic vamps; wide Birkenstocks for those who like to walk with their feet firmly on the ground; and Tevas and other sport sandals, for working warriors who cannot wait for the weekend.

In formal or dress wear, the line between sandals and high-heels can be pretty fuzzy. Many sandals, particularly those designed for making an eye-catching entrance at a resort swimming pool, sport heels that would make a runway model blush. Some Italian sandals, for example, have breathable mesh covering the instep on top and four-inch heels below, while Manolo Blahnik’s idol, André Perugia, created stiletto sandals of multi-hued kid leather for his fashionable clients.

Less spectacular, but even more imitated, are Andrea Pfister’s plastic basketweave sandals, which rested on low, wooden heels. And shoemakers everywhere have created sandals for an evening of dancing.

Bally dressed up its wide-heeled sandals with stripes of silver kid and black suede; Cardin anchored leather straps to its soles at the toes, instep, and ankle; and Halston threw caution, as well as good podiatry practices, to the wind with its strappy, and revealing, high-heel sandals that were probably meant to be held in the hand or tossed on a nearby banquette than to tear up the floor at Studio 54.

Sometimes sandals have borrowed from the materials menu of cowboy boots, as in the snakeskin examples produced by Ravel. Other times sandals borrow from seemingly unrelated shoe styles , such as the sandals that rested on platforms in the 1940s or the improbably high cork disco platform sandals of the 1970s and ’80s.

For a few manufacturers, the open architecture of the sandal is not revealing enough, which is why, in the 1950s, many designers turned to new, clear plastics for their straps, both across the instep and in the back. Rhinestones and other costume jewels were often used to decorate the vamp. In other cases, clear Lucite heels would augment the transparent look. Companies from American Girl to Ferragamo to Herbert Levine championed this airy effect...

Finally there are those sandals that resemble works of art. Bernard Figueroa employed silk flowers on his sandals, going so far as to attach fake florals to the ends of his strappy ankle ties. Jimmy Choo sandals are often all straps and little else, grids of neon greens and pinks. And some recent Manolo Blahnik sandals have tried to have it both ways by being revealing and light, but also making room for thick ankle bands that drip with boot-like leather fringe.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Authentic Louis Vuitton Sandal High Heels Platform Size 7Christian Louboutin Paris Espadrilles Made In Spain Cataclou Studded Sandals 37Chanel Tan Black Leather Classic Open Toe Slide Platform Sandal Shoes Sz 42New Mens Hermes Navy Sandal Leather Flat Slide Blue 42Tory Burch Miller Thong Sandal Coconut Brown Size 9Jimmy Choo Gold Open Toe Strapped Casual Hot Day Wear Sandals Sz 38New Womens Hermes Red Sandal Shiny Python Leather Flat Slide Mule 39Giuseppe Zanotti Design 6650 New Womens Metallic Leather Heels Sandals 36.5 BhfoLouis Vuitton Navy Green Jacquard Gold Buckle Open Toe Slide Sandals Sz 38.5Authentic Christian Louboutin Discoteka 100 Sandals High Heels Gold 38.5 7.5 8Giuseppe Zanotti Design 5711 New Womens Birel Black Strappy Sandals 7.5 BhfoIsabel Marant Black Leather Studded Gladiator Sandals Sz 38 8Auth Chanel Black Flower Detailed Flip Flops Thongs Sandals Sz 37 7Tory Burch Miller Sandals Patent Sand Beige Size 7.5 New Womens Hermes Orange Sandal Shiny Python Leather Flat Slide Mule 39Birkenstock Brown Suede Open Toe Classic Casual Gladiator Slide Sandals Sz 37Tory Burch Miller Flip Flops Sandal Beige Sand Patent Leather Size 9m 029000Tory Burch Miller Sandals, Tan Patent Leather 10New Mens Hermes Beige Sandal Leather Flat Slide Mule 42 8.5Jimmy Choo Nude Patent Leather Cork Wedge Sandals Size 36Chanel Orange Leather Classic Open Toe Slide Platform Sandal Shoes Sz 11Christian Louboutin Black 'neuron' 120mm Ankle Boot/sandal W/ Receipt & DustbagTory Burch Miller Women's Sand Patent Leather Laser-cut Logo Sandal Size 9mTory Burch Miller Sandals Size 7mTory Burch Nude Leather Miller Sandals New Without Box Size 8$595 Gucci Womens Horse Bit Black Crystal Thong Sandals/flip Flops Size 9.5Schutz 1628 New Womens Emyly Black Leather Heels Sandals 8 Medium (b,m) BhfoJack Rogers Womens Size 8 SandalsPrada Black Green Fatigue Rubber T-shape Slide Beach Sandal Shoes Sz 8Tory Burch 'miller' Brown Leather Flat Sandals/thongs Size 7.5Chaco Zx2 Yampa Women Sport Sandal Adjustable Straps Rubber Sole Sz. 8Chanel Camellia Jelly Sandals New Side 8Tory Burch Miller Women's Black Patent Leather Laser-cut Logo Sandal Size 9mAuthentic Gucci Mens Sandals Size 12 In Excellent Condition Tory Burch Cream Patent Leather Medallion Sandal Heels Size 8mFly London Red Tie-back Sandals Size 39Valentino Garavani Genuine Leather Sandals With BoxChaco Women's 'z/1 Unaweep' Sport Sandals ~ Cranberry Print ~ Sz 8mTory Burch, 'miller' Black Patent Leather, Women's Thong / Sandal Size 9.5 BTory Burch Miller Black Patent Leather Sandals 7.5 - Excellent ConditionSaint Laurent 6879 New Womens Blue Leather Criss-cross Platforms Sandals 9 BhfoWomen Birkenstock Mayari Sandals 39 Toe Loop2526 New Birkenstock Women's Slide Sandals Birko-flor Navy Sf Eu38 Us 7 NTory Burch Miller Women's Natural Leather Laser-cut Logo Sandal Size 10mNib Gucci Sandals, Beige, Size 40 (us 10) Msrp $545.00New Tory Burch Emmy Sandals Size 7m Authentic Stuart Weitzman Nudist Ankle-strap Red Suede Sandals Shoes-7.5Jimmy Choo Gold Heel Sandal Size 38Tory Burch Mid Wedge Amanda Logo Sandals Size 6.5 Reva LeatherEileen Fisher Spree Sport Women's Sandals Color Black Size 10995$ Valentino Garavani Beige Silver Studded Heel Sandals Size 9/39 No ReserveGiuseppe Zanotti Design 7097 New Womens Black Flat Slide Sandals Shoes 8.5 Bhfo9732 New Women's Jack Rogers Stardust Leather Thong Sandals Gold 7.5 MNib Jack Rogers Palm Beach Sandals Shoes In Black With Patent Accents - Size 8mTory Burch Thin Enamel Printed Flip Flops Sandals Flats Black 9 - NewTory Burch Patti Brown Leather Wedge Sandals /slides Size 8mYves Saint Laurent Tribute Sandals Black 39 Tory Burch Louisa Thong Sandal Black Leather Sz 9 NwbNib Jack Rogers Palm Beach Flat Sandals Shoes In White - Size 8mNew Mens Hermes Brown Sandal Python Leather Flat Slide 7 39