Men’s sandals in Australia are a touchy subject, because we’re pretty attached to our thongs (or ‘flip flops’ if you’re British, and wrong). They’re practically on the Australian flag. But over the last few years, guys have been craving open-toed footwear that’s slightly more dressy. Or at least some beach shoes that don’t melt in the sun, or snap after five weeks, leaving you stranded and hopping painfully back to your car.
Enter the men’s sandal. It’s the grown-up approach to casual footwear. In this article, we’ll be breaking down everything there is to know about sandals: what they are, how to style them, and (crucially) when to wear them. So crack a tinny and enjoy—this is our men’s guide to wearing sandals.
What are men’s sandals?
Think of ‘sandal’ as the overarching footwear category. Technically sandals have an openwork upper or straps that wrap around your foot, lashing it to the sole. The straps can wrap all the way around the ankle, too, which is considered fashionable on ladies, and more functional on guys (wrap-around rubber sandals, like the SIERRA, are good for guys with boats, dads who like camping, or anyone who’s going to be hopping in and out of rockpools, that sort of thing).
What are men’s slides?
You might hear the word ‘slide’ around the place, but don’t get confused. Slides are just a kind of sandal. They’re backless, open-toed shoes that slide-on and slide-off easily (hence ‘slides’). Most of the dressier, better-quality sandals you see are going to be slides. Our CABANA and PEREZ are slides. Slides have become incredibly popular over the last five years, thanks to the athleisure trend. You can wear them to the gym, down to the beach, or even beneath formal shorts.
What are thongs?
Thongs are sandals, too, although they’re not technically slides. (Slides really need a strap or buckle across the top of your foot, and those thin rubber tubes on thongs don’t count.) Thongs are still an Aussie staple, and because they’re usually much cheaper than good-quality men’s sandals, you can throw them around without much worry. But thongs should never be worn with formal shorts or chinos, or to any kind of smart-casual occasion. These guys are strictly for beaches and barbecues.
How to style men’s sandals
How you wear men’s sandals depends on the style. Sporty slides, like the CABANA, go well with activewear, fitness shorts, or simple boardshorts and a crew neck tee. They’re a pretty flexible summer option. For something a little dressier, look to black woven leather slides, like the PEREZ. These would work beneath formal shorts and a crisp linen shirt, or even dark, slim-fit chinos (just remember: when you’re going sockless, cuff high above the ankle). Sandals like the SIERRA sit somewhere in between. They could be your everyday summer beater shoes, sitting comfortably beneath cotton shorts and a polo, or a classy alternative to beach thongs.
No socks, please
Do we even need to say it? Sandals and socks are for tourists at Disneyland, or possibly Silicon Valley tech geniuses with nothing to lose. At a pinch, you can wear socks and sandals while taking out your bins, but even then we wouldn’t recommend it. Let’s quickly move on.
Where to wear sandals
It might be faster to list the places not to wear sandals, because these days they’re acceptable almost everywhere. Sandals are obviously great for picnics and beach days, and you can wear dressier slides to garden parties and summer beer gardens. Some people even wear sandals with suiting separates (although this is high-level, post-graduate styling, and comes with all sorts of risk). As a rule of thumb, don’t wear sandals anywhere you’d be worried about people saying things like, “Mate, what’s with the sandals?” Even beautifully made leather slides aren’t acceptable at weddings, formal events or around the office. Remember: sandals broadcast your toes to the world, and, sometimes, toes are best left to the imagination.