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    

Tory Burch Mid Wedge Amanda Logo Sandals Size 8.5 Fire Orange Leather $346Valentino Rockstud 8.5 38.5 Blush Point Stud Slingback Sandal Heel Shoe New H966Christian Louboutin Black Patent Leather Fernando 120 Platform Sandals 38Tory Burch Miller 8 Vanilla Vachetta Leather Logo Flip Flop Sandal Shoe Hop514Ysl Yves Saint Laurent Ivory Patent Leather Tribute Platform Sandals Sz 37 7Manolo Blahnik Black Lauratopri Suede Ankle-strap Sandals $735 Size 36.5Ysl Yves Saint Laurent Black Patent Leather 'tribute' Sandal Heels Size 37.5 NewLouboutin 8 38 Black Patent Slingback Cork Wedge Sandal Heel Shoe New Hri038Miu Miu Jewel-embellished Suede Sandals Platform Wedges Heels $995.00 Ss2014Ysl Yves Saint Laurent Brown Grain Leather 'tribute' Sandal Heels Sz 37.5 NewGucci Jane 8.5 38.5 Black Suede Peep Sling Bootie Sandal Pump Heel Shoe New H017Tory Burch Emmy Flat Thong Sandal Black 6.5 36.5 Leather Women Shoes T-strap MNib Chanel 14p Black Silk Crepe Pearl Beaded Heel Strappy Sandals Shoes 37 7 NrChristian Louboutin Toutenkaboucle Black Strappy Sandal Size 40Burberry 'delamer' Brown Leather Strappy Wedge Platform Sandals Shoes Sz 35Jimmy Choo Lance Lang Silver Mirror Leather Strappy Sandals Heels Sz.36 $850Authentic Christian Louboutin Patent Leather "differa" Sandals 38.5 Us Size 7.5Jimmy Choo Camila Braided Sandals Heels Woven Leather Neon Size 40 1/2Bottega Veneta Brown, Orange & Yellow Woven Leather Flat Sandals Size 39.5 NewJimmy Choo Black Satin Ankle Strap Evening Sandals Heels Size 40 1/2Chanel Black Leather Sandals/mules W/crystals Size 40Louis Vuitton W/ Box $3k Feerique White/silver Sandal Platform Heels 38/8 Rare!!Christian Louboutin Toutenkaboucle Buckle Black Suede Platform Sandals Sz 38.5$1995. Charlotte Olympia Sandals Shoes Size 39 Scarce Nib Celine Paris White Patent Leather Molded Criss Cross Sandals Shoes 40Men's Birkenstock Brown Faux Leather 2-strap Sandals Size 10 43 NwtNib Manolo Blahnik Gold Tie Ankle Strap High Heel Sandals Shoes Sz 36Auth Chanel Black & Ivory & Crystal Camellia Logo Cc Jelly Sandal Thong 40 Us 10Tory Burch Miller Tan Tumbled Leather Thong Sandal - Size 8Chanel Sandals Size 40 Beige Black Cc Logo Open Toe Flats Flip Flops Box OnlySalvatore Ferragamo Pavi Bicolor Suede T-strap Sandals Size 5bChaco Orange & Yellow Z/x2 Yampa Strap Sport Sandal Shoes Sz 7Tory Burch Miller Brown Leather Medallion Flip Flop Sandal Shoe Size 8.5~Valentino Leopard-print Calf Hair & Leather Rockstud Sandals Size 41Christian Dior "new In Box" Brown Leather Strappy High-heeled Sandal. 6.5 MLanvin Embellished Platform Sandals Size 40Hermes Oran Sandals$420 Chanel Black Camellia Flip Flops Jelly Sandals Italy Size 38Genuine Grey Suede Frill Christian Louboutin Heels Sandals Platforms Size 40 Gucci Marcy Italy Womens Buckle T-strap Sandals Shoes 38 Leather Chop 5c9qz1Gucci Men's Gg Plus Leather Ribbon Suede Sandal Thong Shoe! Size 11.5 Rare!Christian Louboutin White Patent Leather Sandals Heels - 39Mystique Marrakech Silver Evening Sandal Size 9 Used Wedding Prom Louis Vuitton Paris Women's Sandals, 7Fly London - Ylva Sling Back Sandal - Yellow In European Size 38/us Size 7Christian Louboutin Passiflore Leopard Print Pony Hair Platform Sandals Sz 38.5Gucci New Womens Sandals Sz 37 - 7.5 Authentic Gg Jelly Thong Flats Shoes FlopsTrippen Lace F Sandal, Size 38, Women's 8, Super Rare Metallic Color!Stuart Weitzman Black Leather Platform Classy Ankle Strap Sandals Sz 9Auth Hermes Black Leather Open Toe Oran Slingback Sandals Sz 41 11Tom Ford For Gucci Runway 2004 Green Gladiator Satin Sandals Sz 7b $675 In BoxChristian Louboutin Brown Leather Very Croise Sandals Pumps Sz 38.5 8.5Ysl Tribute Sandals 40.5 Black Patent Tatami Birkenstock Sandals Brown Havana Leather Yara 37Nib Tory Burch Fillmore Jelly Flip Flop Sandals Black Size 6Jack Rogers Navajo Isabella Sandal Melon Copper Nib W Size 8.5Gucci New Womens Thong Sandals Shoes 37 Leather Flat Logo Black Sale Chop 5aasz1Rare Authentic Giuseppe Zanotti Colorblock Wedge Sandals 38.5 Us 8.5New Birkenstock Gizeh Black Patent Pink Soles Us 8.5 Eu 39 In Box Thong SandalsZara Basic Trf Blogger Black Ankle Strap Suede Pointy Sandals Heels Shoes 38 7.5