5.28.2012

review: the best chic + cheap sandals


                              the childhood classic                     the old-school mini-wedge                    the ergonomic-chic thong

when it comes to summer footwear, i tend to default to either havaianas or sandals. rubber flip-flops for quick errands around the neighborhood, and a few trusted pairs of favorite sandals for everything else. (dressier occasions in the summer, now that's another post!) over the years, i've road-tested a few exceptional old-school brands, and have come up with my top 3 list. 

1. Saltwaters: the childhood classic, and pretty much indestructible. because they're leather and waterproof, this means...perfect for running through the waves at the beach, goofing off in front of sprinklers, jumping in the fountain in Central Park when it hits above 95 degrees, etc. and yes, just because you're no longer, say, 8, doesn't mean you can't still wear your first beloved summer sandals with panache on your way to brunch downtown.

a vintage blog photo of me and my saltwaters from 2008. probably the best quality sandal at the best price i have ever found. and yeah, zero break-in time required. 
how to wear saltwaters with vivre, grown-up style! 
yes, get your colorful pedi on! via

2. Worishofers: the old-school mini-wedge that German nurses used to wear but i can't stop wearing. a friend in college once told me that you can tell which ones are the best restaurants by seeing if a lot of the patrons are cops and old people. (his dad is a retired cop, so he would know!) old people don't settle for sub-par quality, so listen to your elders. ditto when it comes to Worishofers: the most insanely comfortable, rad summer sandals. 

another vintage blog photo from 2009 - i'm eyeing the cherry red ones this season...
this is like the Worishofer Trifecta of stylish brooklyn/downtown girls rocking their ortho-chic sandals. how can you not love it on Maggie, Michelle and Kiki?

3. Birkenstocks: yes, i am invoking the B-word. (if you don't believe me when i say birks rock, see my earlier post and review here and here.) the ergonomic-chic thong that is the all-around best week to weekend workhorse - think of it as yoga for your foot! (FYI they run a little big, i'm usually a 6.5 and the 36s are a great fit.)

this girl is all, i know i'm wearing volume on volume with birks but i'm totally pulling it off.
via street-peeper

so that's the round-up. nothing fancy, just quietly chic, well-made, old-school sandals that won't break the bank.

what do you think? :)

40 comments:

  1. I have to admit, I wouldn't have looked twice at any of these shoes a year ago. I remember a little while back Birkenstocks were frowned upon and seen as ugly. And I haven't owned any sort of flip flop sandals in the last 5 years at least. I'm starting to see the appeal though! The Saltwaters are especially adorable. And office-appropriate (well, my office anyway).

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    1. hehe - so long as you're not wearing socks with birks i think there's plenty of stylish room for incorporating them into a chic wardrobe!

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  2. Yes to all of these!! The Worishofer slingbacks are my go-to summer shoe. Although, I really hate how they stretch out and fall apart after one season's worth of wear.

    After your post on Birkenstocks, I can't get my mind off of the Mephisto 'Helen' sandals. The Gizeh's leave too much empty space on my feet, so I think the Helen sandals might be a feasible alternate.

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    1. have you tried on the birks with the straps tightened properly, and/or the narrow version? i think the gizehs are a slimmer and more elegant design. :)

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    2. also i've had my worishofers for about 3 years now and haven't had any issues with the leather stretching out or falling apart. in fact the cork and rubber sole are in pretty newish condition even after a lot of wear.

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    3. Seriously?! You are lucky! Every pair that I have ever had stretch out like crazy after a few wears. The cork on the back of the heel near the base also always begins to crumble too. You must be much more gentle on your shoes than me!

      Yeah, I can't do the Gizehs. My feet look like Fred Flintstone's feet in them. I need some straps close to my toes to distract the eye from my otherwise stubby toes. :D

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    4. huh - i wonder if it's due to pronating when walking? yeah i've been wearing my worishofers every year, no issues. the leather straps do soften up but the only stretching is a little bit in the buckle holes with wear, but that's normal in every buckle-strap shoe.

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  3. Sorry if this posts twice, but blogger seemed to eat my 1st one. Love your summer go-to outfit! LOVE Birkenstocks and am so happy they are making a "come-back" though in my opinion they never went anywhere.
    My favorite is the last pic of the girl with the baggy sweater and jeans. Totally going to try that one. Also love your bag. Vintage Coach? You're my kind of woman!!

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    1. hey renee - thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for the sweet comment! :D

      yep yep - my vintage coach bag, perhaps one of my favorite vintage finds ever!

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  4. I haven't heard of the first two, but I almost feel like anything ugly can be made to look nice if presented in the right way, haha!

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  5. This post is making me feel so much better about my ortho-chic (stealing the word!) sandals that are sitting in my closet from when I had a summer-job in Home Care for elderly people. They are a little more "ortho" than "chic", but oh so perfect for long days of sight-seeing! Will keep the Birkenstocks in mind for when I need to replace them, they're my favorite of your three :)

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    1. i have so little tolerance for anything not comfy or easy to wear in the summer, you should rock your ortho-chic sandals proudly!

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  6. This post is exactly what I've been looking for! I've been desperately searching for some cheap and chic sandals that I can wear all summer, with everything. I personally can't decide between the first two options. Thanks for sharing this :)

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    1. so glad you find this helpful. at this price point you could always get both ;)

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  7. I've had a pair of Birkenstock Spartas since my first year of high school and amazingly they still hold up despite near daily wear at times, although the cork bedding at the heel is quite worn down and I haven't gotten around to getting them resoled.

    I'd also been thinking about buying a pair of Saltwater sandals since my first year of college but never committed because I never tried them on in person. What size do you wear in them? I think we wear roughly the same shoe size (6-6.5/37) :)

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    1. hey Ming - i believe mine are the women's size 6 as they tend to run a little large. can't recommend them enough :)

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  8. These are all so cute and prove comfort and style aren't mutually exclusive. I now have a pair of the Silver Birks and love them! I adore the other two as well. I've overindulged in sandals already this season so I'll consider picking up one of the others next year.

    I think Kork Ease also fits into this category of ortho-chic, though they're slighly more expensive. I especially like these low-heeled wedges: http://www.zappos.com/kork-ease-myrna-vacchetta-natural?zfcTest=fw:0

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  9. I used to call these sandals orthopedic shoes for unsteady kids and elders...
    Even though I wouldn't wear Birkenstocks on a daily basis yet (I have a pair I only wear after strenuous sport activities), I have to admit that the girl on your last picture as well as yourself put them off quite well.

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  10. Good sandal recommendations! I always had saltwaters as a kid, but I have pretty narrow feet so they probably wouldn't be the best fit. But those Worishofers are great! You are good at finding the elusive middle ground in terms of price with coolness, sophistication, reputatation...

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  11. I used to have Saltwaters but returned them because the footbeds were basically just hard plastic and were pretty uncomfortable. You didn't have this problem!

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    1. yeah, i find them really comfy. the saltwaters don't have a cushioned footbed but it is pretty flexible, which is better than some of those sandals with the super rigid leather soles. i guess it depends on your arch and if you need more support.

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  12. saltwater sandals are on my lists of things to purchase! I live in sandals, pretty much all year round, and I have 3 pairs of beautiful k jacques that i bought on sale but they are pretty expensive and they do wear out... I also love birkenstocks ever seeing ashley olsen rocking hers (your post on them recently was fantastic). I think I love the kinds of sandals that you can wear anklets with the most :)

    xxx

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  13. You are a woman after my own heart. I never heard of Saltwaters before actually, but was just thinking I could really use a second pair of sandals this summer that would stand up to the water well and lo and behold! Very excited, hope they fit all right and thanks for this list.

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    1. coolness. which ones did you get? let me know how you like them!

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  14. Those colourful Saltwater sandals are great :)
    Come summer I live in my Melissinos Greek sandals, picked up at a shop in Athens, and my Indian Kolhapuri thong sandals, bought in Bombay. I am also partial to a pair of navy suede and leather sandals, with burnished gold sequins, from Vanessa Bruno. Perfect for evening.

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    1. these all sound fantastic with such great stories behind them too. being able to live in flat sandals is one of my favorite things about summer.

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  15. Great post! Even though none of these are quite my style,you've made a compelling argument for them, haha. I've always liked those Birks, maybe one day I'll figure out how to make them work for me.

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    1. yes! would love to see you rock some birks on your blog :)

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  16. I love this post! I really want some Saltwaters!! I live in the UK and the only place that stocks them, Toast, has sold out and is not planning on restocking them this year for some unknown reason. I don't understand why nobody else stocks them. I love Birks but I think at a UK Size 6, I cannot pull them off. They look amazing on you though. You look effortlessly stylish as usual :)

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    1. thanks Hana - i think you should give the birks a try. it's all about the attitude in how you wear things anyway :)

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  17. Thanks for introducing me to the Worishofers! That's a new brand to me.

    I wore Saltwaters growing up, but the lack of any cushion in the foot bed left my very flat feet sore. But Birks certainly provide a lot of support, and the Worishofers appear to as well.

    minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style

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    1. yeah the worishofers have a really nice arch support in the insoles. they're also quite light so you don't feel them at all on your foot when walking around - a must for traipsing around the city in the summer! :)

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  18. AWESOME post-so glad I ran across your blog (I just subscribed)! I have been looking at Saltwaters the past couple of days and I am going for it now. I wasn't sure about sizing but think I am going to go with an 8 (I wear 8 1/2 normally) in gold or champagne. I had never heard of Worishofers...they are next on my list now lol. Love how you showed how all of these shoes can be stylish-it gave me a lot of ideas. :)

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    1. thanks Amber! :) so great that you found this helpful. i remember looking for cheap and chic sandals a few years ago and finding very little online, so this is my way of sharing what i've liked over the seasons!

      i love the patent hot pink saltwaters in particular - which one did you end up getting?

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    2. You are going to laugh...I ended up getting gold Saltwaters, black gizeh Birkenstocks and today I am buying black Worishofers. I guess it is obvious I loved your suggestions. Add to that a pair of Tom's ikat strappy wedges and my summer shoe wardrobe is done! :)

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  19. I could really see myself in the Worishofers!

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    1. go for it! they are super lightweight and really great to pack for travel too.

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  20. I love this post! You are really making me consider a pair of saltwaters. I said no previously because they resemble too many of my vintage sandals but then you said the magic word: waterproof! Because shoes in SE Asia have to be waterproof.

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    1. yeah the brilliance of sandals that were originally designed for rough and tumble kids ;)

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