Spring is heating up one of our favorite, age-old footwear debates: Can men wear sandals without looking like yuppie narcs? Or a crusty Phishhead? (Actually, here for that one.) Throngs of sandal-haters will tell you they just look meh, or that they themselves “would never wear flip flops on the subway,” citing how exposed your toes become to the world’s errant garbage, AC unit drips, and careless stampeding. Fair. But, is living in fear any way to lean into your best, most unbridled spring self? Hell no.
Winter has caged your feet for far too long, fellas. Plus, have you seen all the sandals for men out there? We’re not talking about the ones from Old Navy that smell like a condom. We’re talking about the best men’s sandals that run the gamut of classic, normcore footwear (that’s just begging to get paired with socks), from the legacy brands including Nike, Teva, and Birkenstock—the latter of which just partnered with Manolo Blahnik on a bejeweled pair of their iconic buckle sandals—to the more avant-garde offerings by designers such as Rick Owens and Alexander McQueen. As with Crocs, the men’s sandals of today have recognized and harnessed the power to transcend their cringe factor of yesteryear and become high-fashion style staples for streetwear lovers, gorpcore bros, and anyone who just wants to let their feet breathe, damnit.
We’ve spent hours poring over the best pairs online, and are proud to report that men’s flip flops and sandals have never been more possible for every kind of aesthete. Go Old Testament with a rope pair, or fasten your feet up with some strappy, neutral Chacos. Style your Nike flip flops with some cargos, and slide into your Doc Marten sandals like the discerning elder punk you were born to become. We’re not saying your life will be automatically better once you start wearing these sandals—but we’re tossing them into your wardrobe like a radicchio salad served poolside, with an extra-boozy, herbaceous cocktail.
Read the classics
Teva, Birkenstock, and Chaco. Those are the footwear brands making up our trifecta of classic, foundational sandals this season, because they can all be styled up or down to the normcore heavens. They can go full Bass Pro Shop with some cargo shorts, or be the focal point for a relaxed wedding outfit on Catalina Island. Pair them with statement-making socks, wear ‘em on a hike, or put them on a pedestal in your bedroom. Just know that these are three brands we’ll always love for their quality construction, and the “What if we added one more Velcro strap?” attitude that they bring to the design room.
Thong sandals are chic
Gone are the days of the sweaty, squeaky, rubber flip flop that chokes out your sunbaked toes for hours at a time. No more. You’re a hot adult now, dude—that means you deserve the kind of classy leather or Armani sandal that Javier Bardem would wear with a linen button-down on a lazy Sunday, in between checking the mail and making more espresso. Vince Shoes’ leather sandal has a thick leather strap that could probably bridle a horse, and we stan.
Our boy Giorgio, on the other hand, has given us the kind of logo-flaunting sandal we would wear to an alternative wedding on the beach with a baby blue linen suit.
Reef sandals forever
A 2000s classic. These Reef flip flops have over 1,000 reviews on Amazon and a 4.7-star rating, with users praising their durability, versatility, and comfort. “They are the only ones [I’ve] gotten that provide arch support,” writes one reviewer about the sandals. “The material is soft and squishy and feels great.” You see, as with their Y2K cousin, UGG boots, Reef sandals continue to provide endless vibes that were designed for the beach but thrive almost anywhere—so much so, that my boomer California dad, who used to watch Miki Dora surf Rincon and remembers when skateboards “were just two-by-fours with wheels,” also refers to them as his “house slippies” because they’re so damn comfy—buttery, even. You’ll find yourself sliding into them to do just about everything, even if it’s just rolling a joint.
Sandals can have great arch support
Our unwavering love for Reef also brings us to the debunking of a biiiiig sandals myth: These babies don’t have good arch support. We’ll tolerate no such sandal slander, especially when there are brands such as Hoka, Nike, and Fila making chunky-soled, extra-supportive, wavy sandals that would look great paired with cargo and parachute pants, or whatever shorts you wear to sprint down the mountain or to the bodega.
Punks deserve sandals, too
Are you an aging punk who finally wants nice things? (Same.) Doc Marten hears you, and has made a sandal with the brand’s inimitable yellow stitching that would look great with some of our favorite skirts for men and non-binary people.
These cushy, moody Alexander McQueen sandals are also sick—and 40% off the original price.
Have you tried color blocking?
Let’s add some color to those lemon pepper steppers by color blocking, which is basically when you create an outfit with two or more pops of color that would make you the most popular person on Sesame Street. Teva and Camper are two clutch brands in that department, with both offering sandal designs in bold primary colors that make our feet feel like gaming consoles.
$85 at Camper
Nike’s beige Canyon Sandal is a more subtle take on color blocking, because its flashes of color and contrast come courtesy of the red and blue strap, and that speckled sole.
You mostly walk on water
If you crave rope sandals, you’re hot. Also, your name might be Sequoia and we almost certainly shared a veggie hot dog after that Grateful Shred concert. (Do you still have our lighter, BTW?)
Make your sandals your wallet
Bags? Purses? Pffft. We’ll be keeping our small change/condoms/mushroom caps in our sandal pockets, TYVM, so we can clink around Brooklyn like medieval jesters on the subway. Nike’s Jordan slides have a statement-making, removable “stash pouch” so poofy, we’re tempted to use it as a parachute.
Adidas x Rick Owens, the laird of ready-to-wear deconstructivism, has also blessed us with cargo sandals that deserve their own zip code. Le sigh.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.