The Best Comfort Sandals That Aren’t Frumpy

The Best Comfort Sandals That Aren’t Frumpy

Every summer, I get tons of requests for comfort sandals that aren’t frumpy. This used to be a tall order, but lately comfort sandals are actually on trend. Hallelujah!

Now that I’m getting back into regular shoes after my ankle injury, I’ve been on a mission to find the best comfort sandals without the frump factor, so I thought I’d do a roundup for you today.


Dolce Vita Selda (7.5) // Caslon dress (S)

What Makes a Sandal Frumpy?

With sandals, as with most matters of fashion, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What looks frumpy to me might look cute to you, and vice versa, so take my opinions with a grain of salt. But when I think of frumpy sandals, I think of dark colors with thick straps and chunky soles, often with velcro instead of buckles, in styles that are conservative and sensible.

That said, some women can rock this chunky Dad Sandal and look super chic, so it really is a lot more nuanced than that. Let’s face it, the frump factor of a certain type of sandal is significantly impacted by who is wearing it and how they are styling it. In other words, just because it’s cute on your teenage daughter doesn’t mean it will be cute on you or me.

Keeping that in mind, here are my best tips for finding comfort sandals that aren’t frumpy, especially when you are “a woman of a certain age”.

#1. Look for thinner straps. Thinner straps generally look less frumpy than thicker, heavier straps. Also, diagonal lines tend to be more flattering than harsh horizontal lines, especially those placed right across the ankle. Slingbacks are another good option that provide support while avoiding a horizontal line across the front of the ankle.

#2. Try to find sandals with less foot coverage. Sandals that cover more of the foot tend to look heavier (which usually translates to frumpier) so I typically prefer sandals that have as little foot coverage as possible. That said, we may have to make compromises to get the comfort and support we need, so you just have to weigh the variables and find what works best for you.

#3. Opt for lighter colors… but not necessarily white. Dark brown and black sandals can weigh down your look and draw all the attention to your feet, which tends to add to the frump factor. I also feel like white sandals can read frumpy a lot faster than other light colors. Instead, opt for neutral colors that are close to the color of your skin, for the least amount of contrast.

I personally like taupe and light shades of beige, but if you have darker skin, a light shade of brown or cognac might look better. Metallics are a big trend this spring, and that’s a great alternative to darker colors when shopping for comfort sandals Fortunately, color is not a factor that affects comfort level or support, so this is an easy one to implement.

#4. Pay attention to trends. Wearing old-fashion styles of anything will add to the frump factor, so take some time to look around and take note of what’s in style in non-comfort sandals. Then try to find those features in a comfort sandal that works for you. For example, raffia and metallics are trending right now, as are thick treads.

#5. Grooming matters. Whether you like to go to the salon or DIY it, keep up with your pedicures, and make sure your feet are moisturized (especially your heels.) Also, make sure your polish isn’t chipped or non-existent. If you prefer a natural look, be sure to keep your nails trimmed and filed and your cuticles moisturized.

All of this will go a long way toward keeping a polished and stylish appearance, and again, it doesn’t have anything to do with how supportive your shoes are. We can all keep our feet looking nice, no matter what we have to wear on them.

What To Look For in a Comfort Sandal

When shopping for comfort sandals, there are a few things to consider.

  • I like sandals with a molded footbed, and more and more brands are making those these days. This is when the sandals are contoured to cradle the foot in a natural, supportive way.
  • Sandals with back straps or a lower vamp generally stay on your feet better and are easier to walk in than slides, although I love the look of slides, so this is a compromise I only make when I need that extra support.
  • Sandals that are adjustable will provide the best fit for your unique foot. Also, sandals with soft straps and cushioning in the footbed will help avoid blisters.

The Best Comfort Sandals That Aren’t Frumpy

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to divide these up into five categories: slides, ankle strap sandals, heels, flip-flops, and walking sandals. Of course, some of these will overlap, but I hope it helps you if you’re looking for something specific.

Slides & Slip-On Sandals


Birkenstock Madrid (39) // Faherty Rugby Top (S) // KUT from the Kloth Meg (6) // sunnies

Slides are my personal favorite style of sandal, and I feel like they typically look less like a comfort sandal than other styles. They’re also trending this season, so they look current, even if they have a thick molded footbed.

Plus, slides tend to be more flattering than ankle strap styles because they have less foot coverage and don’t create a harsh line at the ankle, which chops up the leg. That said, I realize not everyone can wear slides comfortably, so this section may not apply to everyone.

If you do like slides, there lots of options out right now that have molded footbeds, like the Birkenstock Madrid that I’m wearing above. The Dolce Vita Selda is another one of my current favorites, and the raffia upper helps them look current.

Here’s a roundup of my favorite slides and backless styles that have a molded footbed and/or a bit of arch support. I chose the colors intentionally, and stayed away from black and dark brown for the most part. If I chose black, it is because I feel like it does not look as frumpy as most in that particular style.

Slingbacks & Ankle Strap Sandals


Kork Ease Hutton (8) // Eileen Fisher Sleeveless Scoop-Neck Midi Dress (S)

Ankle straps provide more stability than slides and attach to the foot more securely, so they are usually easier to walk in. Most women who need supportive footwear should look for comfort sandals with ankle straps. This is when I definitely opt for low-contrast colors in relation to my skin tone because that ankle strap has a way of chopping up the line of the leg.

I also steer clear of velcro, for the most part. If I were to create a rating scale for the frump factor, velcro straps would automatically add two points. I don’t know what it is about it, but I realized after trying to categorize so many sandals that it is a feature that tends to dial up that frump factor really fast! That said, velcro does allow you to get a more precise fit, so if you need it, you need it.

Here are my top picks for comfort sandals with ankle straps and slingback straps. Once again, I mostly chose light neutrals and metallic colors, and that was intentional. In this category, especially, I usually steer clear of dark colors.

Also, I want to give a shout out to the Mephisto Lissandra in the Hazelnut. Other retailers such as Nordstrom and Zappos carry this sandal, but I can only find that cool embossed croc leather on the Mephisto site, and they don’t play well with my shopping widgets. There are some other good colors, but I particularly like that one.

Heels & Platform Wedge Sandals


Vionic Merlot Sandal // PAIGE Claudine (29) // AG Chiro Jacket (S) // FRAME Le Mid Rise V-Neck T-Shirt (XS) // Dragon Diffusion Tote

If you can tolerate a heel, I feel like it’s easier to find a non-frumpy heel in the comfort shoe category than it is to find a non-frumpy flat. Vionic has some nice options right now, such as the pair I’m wearing above, and I also like some of the styles from Kork-Ease and Naturalizer.

In fact, I just ordered the Kork-Ease Paschal in the Gold Metallic to try. I’m looking for a heel I can walk in at my daughter’s graduation ceremony in a couple of weeks, and I think that platform plus block heel will work for me.

There is definitely some overlap here from the ankle strap and slip-on categories, but I wanted to do a section specifically for dressier styles. These are not necessarily sandals I would wear to walk in all day, but I could definitely walk a mile to and from a restaurant, if I had to.

Flip Flops & Beach Sandals


Beek flip flops (8) (also at Nordstrom) // Frank & Eileen Carmel Travel Set c/o (S) // Naghedi hobo bag in Cashmere (similar for less)

Flip flops have come a long way from the plastic thongs that you can buy at any Five & Dime, and there are some really good options now with molded footbeds, and even more delicate styles with arch support, like the Beek Sunbeam I’m wearing above.

I love a flip flop, as it has less foot coverage, and the diagonal straps are flattering, plus it’s just easy to slide on and go. Here’s a roundup of some of my favorite with comfort features.

Some of these are more casual/sporty styles that you might wear to the beach or throw on with your yoga pants to run to the grocery store, and others are more elevated and look cute with your street clothes.

Walking Sandals: Purely for Comfort


Naot Doirth in Gold Tread Leather (8) // Lululemon dress (8) // YSL handbag (option) // DIFF sunnies

Finally, I wanted to make a special section for walking sandals, even though these will overlap with the ankle strap and slingback styles. These are sandals that I consider a compromise for when I absolutely have to have comfort.

They aren’t horrible, but they are not be my first choice of footwear when I want to look and feel chic and stylish. Most have more foot coverage than I prefer, and the use of velcro and/or stretchy straps gives off more of a sporty or earthy vibe than I like in my everyday sandals. But that’s me. I can hear the protests in the comments already…

Once again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so take my opinions for what they are.. Purely my opinions. You may love some of these for everyday wear, and that’s awesome! For my personal style, these are sandals I would wear only if I was doing a lot of walking or sightseeing and needed ultimate comfort, or I might order something from here to wear as I’m recovering from this ankle injury and graduating from sneakers to real shoes.

In fact, I did order the Born Kasady, and I think it might work for dresses and jeans when I don’t want sneakers, but I don’t want to wear my slides. It isn’t a style I would order if I didn’t need more comfort and support this summer, but it works.

I hope this post was helpful, if you’re looking for comfort sandals that aren’t frumpy. I’m sure there are other styles I missed, but I did some crowd sourcing from my JLS Insiders Facebook Group, and they were supremely helpful in coming up with new brands and styles to feature.

Also, if you need wide or narrow styles, Zappos has more options than most. You can search these styles and/or brands, and then drill down into narrow or wide widths using the menu on the sidebar.


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