About the Author: Ryan N. is a professional web developer for (and alum from) the University of Delaware, who keeps a close shave as to not be confused with his strongly-bearded twin brother. He plays guitar and drums, loves going to concerts with his wife, and loves being a dad.
When my two go-to pairs of summer shoes recently showed signs of impending failure, it was time to start looking for options to replace them.. but I came up empty.
Well, not EMPTY empty, but the most popular summer shoe options for dudes seem to be Old Navy flip flops, Sperry Docksiders, or ridiculously-high-fashion mandals. Where was the extensive guide for sharp, breathable footwear on a budget? Sure, Dappered has a lot of summer posts that include shoes, but what other options are out there? And why does Joe like white plimsolls so dang much?
Let’s dive in. Every shoe on this list fits a certain criteria:
- Works with either shorts or long pants in the heat (so you won’t see suede chukkas on here, which don’t really go with shorts).
- Hits the sweet spot between being casual workplace-appropriate, but not out of place at your brother’s BBQ.
- Affordable and timeless.
#1. Non-Clunky Boat Shoes
- Nordstrom 1901 Pacific Boat Shoe – $35.96 ($79.95)
- J. Crew Factory Classic Boat Shoe – $34.50 ($88)
- Sperry Authentic Original Boat Shoe – $94.95
- Jack Erwin Cooper Boat Shoe – $125 (above)
- Allen Edmonds Westbrook Boat Shoes – $112.50 ($225)
Sperrys are the name everyone knows, but there are also great, affordable options everywhere you look. Heck, the pair about to give out on me after 5 summers was a $10 clearance grab (St. John’s Bay from JCPenney, of all places). All leather upper is going to be your best bet here – stay away from the ones with “meshy” parts for a more classic look. Darker leathers lean more “formal”, while lighter leathers will be a little more casual.
#2. Espadrilles (Alpargatas)
- ASOS Espadrille – $15
- H&M Espadrille – $17.99
- Soludos Men’s Original Dali Slipper – $22.50 to $42
- Viscata Sitges Espadrille – $54.95 to $74.99 (top of page)
Yes, you can pull these off. Once a timeless mens’ classic, you don’t seem to see these much anymore. Sure, TOMS are ubiquitous, but their popular products eschew the traditional jute or rope sole for a rubber one, which means they’re not a true espadrille in the spirit of the word (‘espadrille’ comes from ‘esparto’, a type of grass used in making rope). Want the real deal, which supposedly keeps your feet drier and cooler? Short of buying them on the street in Europe, try rope-soled versions from Soludos or Viscata. Otherwise, H&M and ASOS are inexpensive starters, but don’t expect quality or longevity for those prices.
#3. Drivers & Loafers
- Jack Erwin Parker – $115
- 1901 “Bermuda” Loafer – $59.90 sale starts Friday ($89.95)
- Florsheim Throttle Penny Loafer – $54.97
- Clarks Clarkdale Flow – $79.99 ($160)
- Allen Edmonds Turner Penny Loafer in Leather or Suede – $120 ($195)
- Brooks Brothers Tie Driving Moccasins in Leather – $126 ($168) or Suede – $168
Toeing the line between casual and dressy (toeing the line, get it?), drivers and loafers are about as far as the “brother’s BBQ” example can go, and probably aren’t your best option for a beach day. But for everything else, these will keep your feet airy and give a summer date night outfit that little bit of oomph without looking like you brought your own Mint Julep ingredients. Keep the sole slim and skip the tassels.
#4 (White) Sneakers
- Superga Cotu Classic – $64.95
- Sperry Top-Sider Striper LL CVO – $59.95
- adidas Stan Smith – $80
- Banana Republic Nicklas – $70.80 w/ STYLE ($118)
Featured all over Dappered in summer for good reason. The white color deflects heat, meaning your feet won’t be trapped inside a sort of sunshine microwave if you’re out all day. Comfortable, and when kept simple, can really be a smooth style option.
#5 Everything Else
- ALEANDER Men’s Quick Drying Water Shoes – $26.99 to $34.99
- Swims Penny Loafers – $54.97
- Native Howard Boat Shoe – $48.40 to $64.95
Sometimes options 1 thru 4 still don’t quite cover your bases. For example, if you like going to the beach and don’t want to take different shoes for the sand or the boardwalk after, there are some great rubber-foam based options that don’t look like you work at a hospital. Look, this is obviously more function over fashion, and that’s fine. But they’ll still cover your toes and be less sloppy looking than a pair of junky flip flops.
Final Thoughts on Summer Foot Care
Okay, we’ve got the basic styles down, but what else?
- Going sockless: Sockless is an option, but it’s not really the best one. Instead, opt for no-show socks that give the illusion of sockless.
- Foot powder: If you do opt out of a layer between your foot and the insole, then foot powders are your friend.
- Clean toes: Nobody likes seeing your janky toes. No one. Clip those bad boys and get a pedicure if you need one.