You can arguably make a case for the shoe of summer being a pair of flip-flops. Easy to wear and comfortable, they’ve long been a warm-weather staple made for days at the beach or running errands when it’s too hot for sneakers. While they’ve fallen in and out of favor over the decades, for many, they’re a classic wardrobe item, much like a white T-shirt or black tank top. In recent years, more fashion-conscious types began incorporating these sandals into their outfits, both on and off the beach. Now it’s common to see flip-flops all dressed up for dinner — they’ve even made an appearance on the red carpet. Made with rubber, suede, leather, and other materials, including eco-friendly foam, you’ll find variations that feature low heels, high wedges, and platforms that fall somewhere in between.
While you can find flip-flops nearly everywhere, some are better than others, at least according to the 11 women we asked. From model Gabrielle Richardson’s sexy take on the sandals to stylist Beverly Nguyen’s luxury favorite to the avant-garde pair I’ve come to love for its ability to go from the beach to museum hopping, these are the best women’s flip-flops.
Best classic rubber flip-flops
Founded in Brazil in 1966, Havaianas is one of the best-known flip-flop brands, so it should come as no surprise, then, that Havaianas were the pick of several of our contacts. Lisa Buhler, the founder of e-commerce site Lisa Says Gah, says, “You can’t beat the classic black Havaianas.” Dora Fung, editor-in-chief of 10 USA, says she lives in hers. “They’re inexpensive, have great colors, and they don’t rub at my toes at all. I also find them very sturdy. I’ve had flip-flops that can barely keep together until August, but these are solid.” For model Gabrielle Richardson, they reflect a current obsession — “I feel like we’re in a Brasilmania moment right now and the little logo is so cool.”
Best (less expensive) classic rubber flip-flops
Brand consultant and stylist Laurel Pantin, who writes the shopping newsletter Earl Earl, ranks Havaianas high on her list but a close second are these by Old Navy. “I’ve been wearing these since middle school. The straps are nice and thin, plus they don’t have any visible branding,” she says. In an array of colors and patterns, they’re a solid bet if you don’t like spending a ton of money on summer shoes and look more expensive than their $5 price tag.
Best comfortable flip-flops
One of the biggest critiques of flip-flops is that they offer little arch support due to their thin, flat soles. These by Axel Arigato are made with sugarcane-based plastic foam and feature a thicker sole, both of which offer more support and cushioning. Says fashion writer and stylist Michelle Li, “These are my favorite weekend sandals for running around New York City. They keep my feet comfortable while still adding an interesting color to an outfit, thanks to shades like hot pink and Kelly green.”
Best (less expensive) comfortable flip-flops
If you’re looking for an inexpensive style that’s similar to the Axel Arigato flip-flops, these by Melissa also feature a heftier sole for foot support. “I love the silhouette of these! They look like you could be walking on clouds,” says Nana Agyemang, CEO of EveryStylishGirl, an organization dedicated to the advancement of Black and brown women in media and fashion. Also a selling point? A wider choice of colors like lime green, electric blue, and black, which Agyemang says gives her options for days she wants neutrals versus days where she feels like adding a bit of neon to her outfit.
Best minimalist flip-flops
As someone who thought she’d never come around to flip-flops, stylist Beverly Nguyen has fully embraced the style. “A few years ago, I wouldn’t even wear flats, but I had a brief stint in L.A. not too long ago, and I had to adopt a more casual wardrobe that still felt sophisticated and formalish. These Toteme sandals proved to be a staple that I could wear running from the farmers’ market to the beach and straight to cocktails,” she says. Nguyen likes them with oversize jeans for errands or silk dresses for evening events. As for the ultrathin straps, they were a selling point due to their minimal design, and she swears they’re comfortable for her, but acknowledges everyone’s feet may be different.
Best (less expensive) minimalist flip-flops
Justifying a few hundred dollars on barely there flip-flops isn’t for everyone so Laura Reilly, creator of the shopping newsletter Magasin, likes this $55 version by Tkees that remind her of Toteme and The Row. “They’ve been my go-tos for a few years now. I’m really into how near-to-nothing they are. They’re practically two-dimensional, like you used Adobe Illustrator to draw lines onto your feet,” she says. Though the thin sole gives them the appearance of being uncomfortable, Reilly says the opposite is true, as she finds them comfortable enough to easily get in 10,000 steps whether in New York or on vacation.
Best packable flip-flops
Having taken ten flights over the course of the last two months, finding a pair of flat-packing flip-flops was crucial. These by Chaco are inexpensive, lightweight, and take up minimal space in a suitcase whether I’m checking in luggage or bringing a carry-on. I use them in lieu of slippers in hotel rooms when I’m skeptical of how clean the carpets are. In the Bahamas, they withstood saltwater and sun with minimal fading while the cushioning offered ample lower-back support when I found myself running around on a work trip.
Best luxury flip-flops
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen went from wearing Haviananas in the early aughts to creating the fashion person’s favorite luxury flip-flops with The Row’s Ginza sandals. It has a devoted following for its combination of thick straps and soft, suede sole. Nguyen considers these another wardrobe staple that have held up beautifully over time, justifying the steep price tag. “I’ve worn my pair over 100 times, which from a financial point of view, equates to about $9.00 a wear. Well worth it!” she says.
Best wedge flip-flops
Stylist and fashion editor at Who What Wear Indya Brown fell hard for a pair of designer platform flip-flops but balked at the price. Instead of spending $300, Brown turned to Zara for a dupe that was similar in silhouette. Featuring a lofty four-inch heel and thick straps, she noted, “They capture that cool girl feeling with its Y2K-inspired silhouette and are quite comfortable due to the thick neoprene sole.”
Best heeled flip-flop
Kitten-heel flip-flops were a popular choice among the group, as nearly every woman who replied to our query chimed in with their favorite pair. While Toteme’s version was a favorite, the dark horse choice is by Frame, a brand better known for its denim but also offers solid leather shoes at a moderate price point. “I love how sexy they look while being comfortable enough to wear nonstop in New York City this summer,” says Richardson, who describes herself as super-active and on her feet all day. The model loves to pair it with maxi dresses but she notes they’re versatile enough to go with the rest of her summer wardrobe and could even be wedding appropriate.
Best flip-flops that don’t look like flip-flops
As someone who prefers gigantic skirts by Comme des Garçons all year round, the perfect flip-flop for me needs to be equally design focused, which is where this pair by Jil Sander comes in. Chunky and featuring an extra strap across the foot to help with walking, it has all of the comfort and ease of a flip-flop but enough heft to be as interesting as the skirt it’s worn with. Geraldine Chung, founder of LCD, a boutique that carries emerging designers, is also a fan of these, noting, “They’re the best companion to voluminous dresses like my favorites by Cecilie Bahnsen or Henrik Vibskov.”
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