The Innate Awesomeness of Athletic Slide Sandals

I always fret when it comes to shoes for the summer. I have no problem with my fall/winter footwear game, but I never quite nail down my shoe selection for the hot weather season with much confidence. Summer shoes can be tricky — you don’t want to be too “try hard” but you want to be stylish and versatile. And of course, you want comfortable and practical — because there’s nothing worse than being hampered by your shoes during such an active, busy, fun time of year.

It’s harder, too, when you have a kiddo in arms or a toddler underfoot. Gladiator sandals? Who has time to deal with that many straps? Cool girl ankle boots? Cute for dates, but a little unstable when you’re lugging the small caravan of stuff that seems to come with kids. Slip-ons seem ideal, but shoes like Toms or Vans need fiddling with to put on or adjust — which is a little perilous when all your arms and hands need to be free to corral or wrangle the littles from imminent disaster or mayhem.

This summer I wracked my brain, trying to figure out a good go-to for my official summer shoe. It had to be genuinely easy to slip on, even if both arms were occupied by diaper bags and toddlers. It had to be casual and work with a wide array of outfits. It had to be easy to walk in. And hopefully it had a kind of ‘cool’ factor — nothing too trendy, but just in-the-know enough to show that you got skin in the game, so to speak. And they couldn’t be too spendy, because I tend to wear summer shoes to the point of being trashed at the end of the season.

This whole endeavor was like solving fashion algebra. I ruled out flip-flops, which are too flimsy. I looked up some Pons Avarcas — but while they look great on the 20-something hipster girls about town, they’re kind of mumsy on my 40-something self. I considered some Madewell Thea sandals (with adorable black-and-white polka dots and a d’Orsay flat heel!), but the reviews scared me off. Where oh where can you be, elusive summer shoe?

And then, one day as I was running out to the car to get something I’d left behind, I looked down at my feet at the C9 slides I bought at Target and realized I already had the perfect shoe for summer: the humble athletic slides I was already wearing!

Now, I know shower sport sandal-type shoes are kind of hipster-y — although kinda old news by now. But this is where hipsterism and parental practicality converge. They’re super comfy, yes, and easy to put on. They can be a little more substantial than the typical slide or sandal. They’re kind of a 90s throwback.

And they’re surprisingly versatile in terms of aesthetics. Yes, they work well with quasi-Scandi minimalism, quasi Japanese club kid or athleisure-y outfits in a very straightforward way. (I sometimes wear mine with a long black slipdress, a la Kate Moss in the 90s.) But they’re kind of a nonchalant twist with a cute summer frock, too, or a sporty accent to a preppy outfit. (The only aesthetic I think it doesn’t meld well with is super-boho maximalism.) And of course, you can just wear them out and about, especially if you get a pair with a substantial, molded sole.

Anyway: it’s so nice to know that the elusive blue bird of shoes I was seeking were already on my feet, and I don’t need to buy something new to fit into my life and style. Isn’t it nice when it works out that way? Summer sartorial quest completed — and I didn’t even have to venture far to do it.

But even if I did, I’d consider ones like these below. I like, obviously, stripes (and I LURVE those Marc Jacobs ones below, though they’re pretty spendy.) There are some fun ones with words on there, and the Dr. Scholls ones might actually work with a boho-y outfit, thus contradicting my statement of their incompatibility with bohemian maximalism above. But honestly, this is not something to spend mucho dinero on — the appeal is that it’s so humble and devil-may-care. To me, devil-may-care is all about the spirit of summer — and no matter what shoes you wear, I hope you’re enjoying your season so far!

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