If the idea of wearing men’s sandals, often referred to as “mandals,” gives you pause, it’s time to reconsider.
Sandals have been a staple of men’s footwear for centuries and are one of the many types of men’s shoes. Although less common in the US, European men already know how to take their summer look to another level by donning some fashionable sandals.
Whether you’re looking for the ultimate summer footwear to add to your collection or a light, cool sandal for warm weather, we’ve got everything you need to find the best men’s sandals and start rocking the high-style mandal.
How Old Are Men's Sandals? A Brief History
Sandals might be the very first form of footwear, dating around 5,100 years old from ancient Egyptian tombs.
These primitive shoes often denoted status within society and were rarely worn indoors. People were often buried wearing their sandals for their journey in the afterlife.
As men’s footwear evolved through the years, sandals took a backseat to sturdier and more practical shoes that could be worn all year for any climate.
Today’s sandals are made with a variety of the latest technology, often incorporating a cushioned footbed. This ensures quality, comfort and stylish men’s sandals.
What Are The Different Types of Sandals?
A sandal is a shoe made of a sole that is attached to the foot with straps or thongs.
There are five main types of sandals for men. These sandals feature a variety of features like memory foam footbeds, arch support, soft rubber soles, or adjustable straps.
Flip Flops (Thongs)
A flip flop, also known as thongs, plakkies, jandals, or slops depending on where you live, are the most common casual type of sandal.
A flip flop features a Y-shaped strap attached to a (often) rubber sole passing between the first and second toes and wrapping around each side of the midfoot. Flip flops are great for days at the beach or pool paired with your swim trunks.
There are flip flops like the much-loved Havianas that are lightweight with minimal support, and there are flip flops like Olukai that have arch support and EVA foam soles for added comfort.
Though you can find some nice leather flip flops, we consider a flip flop to be a men’s fashion flop. These men’s sandals are super casual and should not be worn as a style statement. There isn’t much more to be said about the flip flop.
Slides are so named because they are easy to “slide” into. A slide sandal comes in a variety of soles with single or multiple straps crossing the bridge of the foot. They have both an open toe and an open back.
The Birkenstock Arizona or classic Adidas slide are some of the more popular types. These are only recommended for home or private use since the cork footbed lacks the put-together look classier slides provide. Dare we say, these types of men’s sandals can make you seem much older and way less cool than you actually are.
Not to put down anyone who is a fan of the Birkenstock Arizona, they can have their place (in the back of the closet).
A slide sandal can be as casual as flip flops, or their style can be taken up a notch with leather straps or stylish accouterments such as the Nike Benassi JDI slide.
For a classic style, the Bottega Veneta leather slide enhances the look of any summer outfit. Made with calfskin and lambskin with a rubber outsole, these woven leather Bottega Veneta sandals for men exude sex appeal.
Mules are technically a variation of slides. Mules have a closed toe with an open back and are also easy to wear.
One very common (but not in the least bit stylish) type of mule is the Croc sandal. We beg you, if you own a pair, leave them at home (preferably in the back of the closet)! These sandals should be banned across the world from public use.
Luckily, you can find dressier mule sandals made of leather or suede uppers like the Steve Madden Mules. The nubuck leather upper, open back, and camel color scream high-summer fashion.
This type of sport sandal is geared for the outdoor lover and a feature soft, strappy upper with a thick, comfortable sole. They’re often water friendly, in case you’ll be dipping in and out of a river or lake.
You might consider the strappy Teva or toe-protection Keen sandals when you want to hike or walk, but you don’t want the added bulk of a hiking shoe.
They are not the best-looking footwear. In fact, these men’s sandals lack style and are purely functional featuring water-resistant and quick-drying properties. Think carefully about the image you want to put forward if wearing these with an outfit.
The huarache leather sandal is a great alternative to dress shoes in summer or during warm weather events.
Uppers are either woven or full-grain leather and the toes are sometimes covered. There might be a completely closed heel or you might have a strap around the back of the shoe.
These sandals are very versatile for summer style as you can pair them with jeans, linen pants, or even stylish shorts.
This type of classic sandal features straps across the top of the foot and usually one around the back of the heel. The straps may be adjustable.
These summer kicks have clean lines and a minimalist vibe so can go with most casual summer wear. They’ll keep your feet safe and make a pretty comfortable sandal overall.
How to Wear Men's Sandals With An Outfit
Before we cover some of the best sandals for men, we have to get serious for a moment.
While there are no “rules” for donning a pair of sandals, there are some unspoken statutes which you should be aware. Prior to slipping into your new summer kicks, be certain:
- Your feet are clean. Simple enough, right? No one, especially the ladies, wants to look at dirty toes.
- You’ve had a pedicure. Yes, guys can totally get pedicures! You will be surprised at how soft your feet will feel especially if you’ve neglected your pigs all winter. A pedicure will also take care of scraggly toenails, which are a total turn-off with the ladies.
- See a pediotrist if anything seems “off” with your feet. If you have discolored, or otherwise unsightly toenails, it could mean you have foot fungus or other ailment. This can easily be cleared up with over-the-counter medications so you don’t gross anyone out.
- Take care of calluses (see #2). The best of us get calluses. It’s nothing personal. Anyone who wears shoes gets calluses. Likewise, anyone can clean them up with a simple pumice stone prior to wearing sandals.
Best Men's Sandals for Fashion
There is a huge range of sandals for men, from extremely casual to high-end designer sandals.
You can easily ruin your ensemble by pairing it with the wrong sandal. We aren’t trying to scare you out of wearing sandals, we just want you to do it right.
For example, the Birkenstock Arizona, EVA sandals, the strappy Teva sandals, or the ever-popular Crocs. All of these sandals are high-quality and are a good choice as comfortable sandals go.
However, we feel that their place is in your home or around your yard. We cannot condone them as fashion-minded footwear. At least not for anyone pursuing an active sex-life.
So, what are the best sandals for men? Let’s cover the best sandals for different events, and we’ll even give you some ideas of things you can wear with your sandals.
Best Sandals for Casual Summer Evenings
Evenings spent with a lovely lady or your friends in the summer warmth can’t be beat.
But being in a relaxed state of mind doesn’t mean relaxing your fashion sense.
Pair some Mohinders Woven City Slippers with your favorite loose-fit jeans and Henley. To attract attention to your kicks (and to keep them from getting caught in your jeans) roll up your pant legs twice.
We also like these Paul Stuart leather slides with shorts or capri pants and your favorite t-shirt. This classic sandal adds a lot of character to a look.
Whether hanging out around a campfire or heading to an outdoor concert, these easy-on, easy-off sandals’ flat heel and molded footbed will leave you feeling comfortable and sexy.
Best Recovery Sandals
You may have just finished a rough game on the courts or your first marathon and want to get out of your sneakers for awhile.
Enter the sports recovery sandal. This type of sandal is usually a slide with a single, thick strap across the bridge of your foot. Meant to cradle your aching dogs after especially strenuous activity, these slides often have a soft memory foam footbed and water-resistance. The cheaper versions may only have a foam midsole, however.
The lightweight Hoka One One Ora Recovery slip-on is available in solid, unassuming colors that offer low-key class and style. The Hoka One One Ora Recovery sandal has also earned the Men’s Health Fitness Award for comfort.
Most likely, you will be pairing your sport recovery sandals with your workout clothes and only wearing them for your commute back home.
We also like the classic and easy-to-wear Nike Off Court Slide or Adidas Adilette slides. These sporty kicks might not gain you points for originality, but your feet will thank you because they are super comfortable.
One more pair to consider are the Oofos Ooahh slide sandals with their ergonomic and colorful designs.
Best Sandals for Formal Summer Events
Formal summer events like weddings are a great place to wear dressy leather slides, classic sandals, or woven huarache shoes.
We love the simplicity of the formal Alex Crane Primo slip-on sandals. Handmade of raw leather in Mexico, they feature a woven upper and strap behind the heel. This sandal proves your classic and sophisticated style can also be comfortable.
Another favorite is the Fayva huarache with woven leather uppers, a full heel, and buckle closure. These are ideal for longer, wider-legged pants like you’ll find with linen suits. For those on a budget, a pair of these Kenneth Cole Leather Toe-Ring Slide sandals are classy and affordable.
Best Sandals for the Pool or Beach
If you’re looking to attract the ladies while soaking up rays at the beach, check out these fun Fendi Multi-Color Fussbetts.
These rubber slides offer comfort and a whimsical style. The best part is that their non-slip sole will keep you grounded and the quick drying material will keep you from slipping.
This is probably the only time we will condone wearing these pair of sandals because saltwater and sand will most likely ruin your classier leather shoes. The leather often is not water resistant.
If you’re certain to only put dry feet in them and not walk on the sand, try the Lokken sandal with adjustable straps and stacked leather heel. This minimalist design is perfect for strutting your stuff on the boardwalk.
Best Everyday Men's Sandals
Classic, everyday men’s sandals that actually look good are admittedly hard to find.
Brands like Olukai, Reef, Adidas, Crocs, Teva, and Birkenstock will always have some of the less-discerning market covered. These brands are ideal for various summer activities whether indoor or outdoor.
Likewise, the MARSELL leather mule with its soft upper not only infers sleekness, but also cradles your foot in super-plush bliss. Wear them with tapered pants for day-to-day activities.
We also like the Jerusalem David toe-loop sandal. This minimalist sandal features a leather sole and polyurethane outsole which is for your feet and also offers a polished look when paired with shorts, jeans, or chinos.
Best Men's Stylish Sandals
The best sandal will depend on the season and occasion. They go hand-in-hand with your natural style.
Whether you prefer a fully-enclosed huarache or a minimalist basic sandal, a swanky leather shoe can enhance your summer or holiday wardrobe.
Just steer clear of bulky, chunky rubber kicks as these can make you appear older and less dapper than you are. Follow this advice, and you’ll be covered.
What’s your favorite go-to sandal to stand out? Got an awesome outfit that looks great with some easy slides? Share with us in the comments below!