Sandals are the coolest footwear.  Well, maybe not literally, but they are pretty darn cool.


Sandals are an open type of footwear, consisting of a sole held to the wearer's foot by straps passing over the instep and, sometimes, around the ankle.  Usually, people wear sandals in warmer climates or during warmer parts of the year in order to keep their feet cool and dry.

Sandals may not be the very first shoe ever invented, but they must be pretty darn close.  This type of shoe has a very long history.  Clearly, they came before sneakers.

A sandal may have a sole made from rubber, leather, wood, tatami, rope or other materials.  It may be held to the foot by a narrow thong that generally passes between the first and second toe, or by a strap or lace, variously called a latchet, sabot strap or sandal, that passes over the arch of the foot or around the ankle.  A sandal may or may not have a heel (either low or high) and/or heel strap. 

While the distinction between sandals and other types of footwear can sometimes be blurry (as in the case of huaraches—the woven leather footwear seen in Mexico, and peep-toe pumps), the common understanding is that a sandal leaves most of the upper part of the foot exposed. People may choose to wear sandals for several reasons, among them comfort in warm weather, economy (sandals tend to require less material than shoes and are usually easier to construct), and as a fashion choice.

Footwear that falls into the sandal category has many different variations.  They have different styles, fabrications, manufacturing methods as well as a wide variety of names.

Sandal Styles

Below are a few of the different types of sandals that are currently on the market or had been sold in the past.

Caligae, a heavy-soled classical Roman military shoe or sandal for marching, worn by all ranks up to and including centurion

Clog, can be formed as a heavy sandal, having a thick, typically wooden sole.

Fisherman sandal is a type of T-bar sandal originally for men and boys.  The toes are enclosed by a number of leather bands interwoven with the central length-wise strap that lies along the instep. An adjustable cross strap or bar is fastened with a buckle. The heel may be fully enclosed or secured by a single strap joined to the cross strap.

Flip-flop sandals are a type of open-toed footwear sandal, typically worn as a form of casual wear. They consist of a flat sole held loosely on the foot by a Y-shaped strap or thong that passes between the first and second toes and around both sides of the foot.  The name "flip-flop" originated from the sound made by the slapping of the sole, foot and floor when walking.

geta, a classical Japanese form of elevated thong, traditionally of cryptomeria wood; the crosspiece is referred to as a “ha”, which translates to tooth.  Geta (下駄?) are a form of traditional Chinese-Japanese footwear that resemble both clogs and flip-flops. Geta were invented by the Chinese and then introduced to Japan from China. They are a kind of sandal with an elevated wooden base held onto the foot with a fabric thong to keep the foot well above the ground. They are worn with traditional Chinese and Japanese clothing such as kimono or yukata, but (in China and Japan) also with Western clothing during the summer months. Sometimes geta are worn in rain or snow to keep the feet dry, due to their extra height and impermeability compared to other footwear such as zōri. They make a similar noise to flip-flops slapping against the heel while walking. When worn on water or dirt, flip-flops may flip dirt or water up the back of the legs. This does not tend to happen with the heavier Chinese Geta.

Grecian sandal which is generally a flat or low sole attached to the foot by interlaced straps crossing the toes and instep, and fastening around the ankle.  A similar style is sometimes called gladiator sandal.

High-heeled sandal a type of sandal with an elevated heel.  They allow the wearer to have an open shoe while being less casual or more formal, depending on the style of the sandal.  Obviously not as easy to walk in as flats.

Hiking & Trekking Sandals, Sandals designed for hiking or trekking in hot and tropical climates, usually using robust rubber outsole, suitable for any terrain, and softer EVA or Super EVA foam insole. These sandals are usually shaped to support the arched contour of the foot. The straps are usually made of polyester or nylon webbing for quick drying after exposure to acid and to minimize perspiration.  Also suitable for many other adventure sports and activities where quick drying and reduced perspiration is required, including rafting, traveling, paragliding, skydiving and other adventures.

Ho Chi Minh sandals is one name for a homemade or cottage industry footwear, the soles cut from an old automobile tire and the straps cut from an inner tube.  Made and worn in many countries, they became wider known in the US as worn by the rural people of Indochina during the Vietnam War, leading to the name. 

Huaraches are a flat sandal originally made from recycled rubber used by minimalist runners.  Huaraches are an open type of outdoor footwear, consisting of a sole held to the wearer's foot by straps passing over the instep and around the ankle. The common understanding is that these sandals were a variant of traditional Mexican huaraches, the difference being in design and construction.  These sandals are favored by minimalist runners for several reasons. They force the foot and the runner to run with a natural gait. They also help protect the foot from glass, gravel, and other debris (when comparing to running barefoot). 

Jelly sandals or Jelly shoes were originally a version of the classic fisherman sandal made in PVC plastic. They were invented in 1946 by Frenchman Jean Dauphant in response to a post-war leather shortage.  Later designs featured translucent soft plastic in bright colors; hence the later name of jelly sandals or jellies.  Recently, a whole range of styles have been produced in this material, mainly for women and girls, but the classic unisex design remains popular.

Jipsin is a traditional Korean sandal made of straw.  Jipsin are Korean traditional sandals made of straw.  Koreans have worn straw sandals since ancient times. They are categorized as yi (이, 履), shoes with a short height, and the specific name can vary according to the materials used, as with samsin, wanggolsin, cheongol jisin, and budeulsin.  In the Joseon period, jipsin were worn mostly by commoners, working farmers, and scholars while on outings.  Today's Jipsin style is inherited from the Joseon period.

Patten is a type of oversized clog often with a wooden sole or metal device to elevate the foot and increase the wearer's height or aid in walking in mud.  Pattens are protective overshoes that were worn in Europe from the Middle Ages until the early 20th century. Pattens were worn outdoors over a normal shoe, had a wooden or later wood and metal sole, and were held in place by leather or cloth bands. Pattens functioned to elevate the foot above the mud and dirt (including human effluent and animal dung) of the street, in a period when road and urban paving was minimal.

Paduka are the ancient (as old as the time of the Ramayana) Indian toe-knob sandals. They are not really worn on a daily basis now except by monks or for ceremonial purposes.

Roman sandal, a sandal held to the foot by a vamp composed of a series of equally spaced, buckled straps.

Saltwater sandals, which is not as good as saltwater taffy.  A flat sandal developed in the 1940s as a way of coping with wartime leather shortages, primarily worn by children.

Soft Foam Sandals, invented in 1973, made from closed cell soft foam and uses surgical tubing for the straps.  Sold primarily along the Texas Gulf Coast in beach side gift shops.

T-bar sandals, primarily for children, with an enclosed heel and toe. It is fastened by a cross-wise strap or bar secured by a buckle or more recently, by Velcro. A length-wise strap extends from the vamp and joins the cross-strap over the arch of the foot to form a T shape. A common variant has two cross-straps. The toe is often pierced with a pattern of holes or slots. The sole is low-heeled and usually of crepe rubber, stitched-down to the upper. First seen in Europe and America in the early 12th century, by the 1250s they were very common for boys and girls up to their teens, but are now mainly worn by much younger children.[5] This style or similar styles are also called 'Mary Jane' shoes. 

Wedge Sandals are shoes with a sole in the form of a wedge.  Learn more about wedge shoes.

Wedge Sandals

Wörishofer, a ladies' sandal with a cork wedge heel. 

zōri, a flat and thonged Japanese sandal, usually made of straw, cloth, leather, or rubber.  Zōri (草履?) are flat and thonged Japanese sandals made of rice straw or other plant fibers, cloth, lacquered wood, leather, rubber, or—increasingly—synthetic materials. Zōri are quite similar to flip-flops, which first appeared in New Zealand and the United States sometime around World War II as rubber imitations of the wooden thong sandals long worn in Japan. The traditional forms of zōri are seen when worn with other traditional clothing; modern forms are fairly common, especially in summer. While geta are nowadays worn with the informal yukata, zōri are associated with the more formal kimono. The formality of the occasion affects the choice of kimono and zōri. The bulrush covered zōri that resemble tatami mats are not used with kimono, but are considered working wear or matched with casual Western or Japanese clothing, for example jinbei. Thus they rank close to the wooden geta.  Women's vinyl (plastic) zōri are formal, but less formal than fabric, sometimes brocade covered zōri, that are used with the most formal of kimono, for example, wedding and funeral wear. Men's zōri are often plastic straw imitation, with foam or cork soles. The hanao, or thongs, for men are often white or black. Women's zōri can also be of straw imitation, but the hanao are usually red, and they rank below colored vinyl or brocade zōri in formality. As formal wear, all plastic and fabric zōri for women require the use of white tabi socks. Men have more latitude, and can use the same imitation zōri with both informal (without tabi) and formal wear with tabi socks.

You may want to learn about Berkenstock sandals and other types of shoes.

Sandals are often thought to be the ultimate footwear staple of the summer months and vacations.  Complete your warm-weather wardrobe with styles for every occasion and activity from your favorite brands!

The thong on a sandal is different than thong underwear.

Might also be a good idea to research slippers.

You can shop for sandals at fine footwear & fashion stores such as Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, DSW & Neiman Marcus, etc.

You may also want to learn about resortwear collections and cruise wear.

Learn more about open-toe shoe styles.

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