By Rachel LeWinter
Let’s get real, last spring most people’s footwear consisted of fuzzy slippers. And while this season things are looking up in terms of getting back to our lives, I’m not sure we’re ready to completely give up that comfort. Designers who showed their Spring/Summer 2021 collections—from New York, London, Milan, and Paris—had the same idea.
Instead of sky-high heels… cozy flats dominated the runways. They’re the perfect way to transition from your cushy house shoes to styles that still look good and feel good. We talked to celebrity stylist Zadrian Smith (who dresses Skai Jackson and Naomi Scott) for tips on how to wear the hottest new designs.
Sure this silhouette is most commonly known as the pool slide, but the new versions are much more sophisticated and made to rock beyond the sea and sand. Smith notes that Daniel Lee, the Creative Director at Bottega Veneta, really catapulted this trend into the spotlight with their signature quilted slip-ons. Other designers like Balenciaga, Rosetta Getty, Dolce & Gabbana, and Gabriela Hearst followed suit with iterations that featured earthy fabrics and cool cut-outs. Smith calls them “a refreshing take on the mule, with a lighter approach.” He says they’re perfect to wear with a flirty maxi dress, or paired with cute shorts for a bare leg, leaving the sandals to be the statement.
You may have visions of summer camp, or the classic trek sandal from Teva, when it comes to the velcro sandal, but the modern take on this sporty look is all grown up. Anna Sui, Jason Wu, Valentino, Longchamp, and Coach were among those who breathed new life into these favorite flats from our past. Their spin on the trend featured lace accents and pearl details, elevated materials, and playful proportions. Smith explains the key to pulling off this style is all about balance. “They can be quite chunky and heavy, but also very youthful with off-duty vibes,” he says. Smith suggests wearing them with cuffed boyfriend jeans and a relaxed oversized white button-up shirt with rolled-up sleeves for the perfect weekend ensemble.
The between-the-toe sandal has been around forever, yet this season designers like Tom Ford, Stella McCartney, Etro, and Tory Burch reinvented the classic design with fancy finishes and embellishments. “You can’t help but appreciate designers who have successfully reimagined and redefined the basic flip flop,” says Smith. These chic shoes can be dressed up and worn with a formal pair of trousers in the office, or paired with your casual everyday jeans.
There’s nothing that excludes effortless style and ease more than the beloved ballet flat. The signature round-toe style got a major upgrade this season from the likes of Dior, Rag & Bone, Dolce & Gabbana, and Simone Rocha, whose amped-up versions had brocade patchwork, glistening gold metallics, and sporty mesh. Smith says never underestimate the timeless ballet flat and the endless ways it can be styled. The versatile (and comfy!) shape makes them the perfect companion for weekend adventures, while the new flashier adaptations are ideal for a more fancy outfit.