In her defense of “ugly shoes” last week, the borderline omniscient Heather Cichowski wrote, “They’re not streamlined, they’re not sleek, they weigh about 13 pounds and they definitely don’t make your feet look dainty, but you still want to spend your money on them. They’re the shoe version of The Bachelorette. You don’t understand why you watch the show, but every week you’re watching it with your bottle of wine and popcorn.” And ne’er hath truer words been typed.
I have spent the past month repeatedly trying on shoes I barely liked, and then gasping in horror at how massive, orthopedic, or similar to the building blocks at a pediatrician’s office my feet looked in them. Yet still I find myself inexplicably desirous of these clunky, unflattering bricks. I walk around Manhattan every day scanning the sidewalk for chunky sandals and the girls who are pulling them off. Truly, I marvel at them.
As much as I covet these shoes, with a size nine and a half foot I’ve found it difficult to fall in love with the sight of my foot inside them. As ever, it’s a balancing act. You want a shoe that scratches the odd, unavoidable itch that only the aesthetically unappealing sandal can, but that will not cause you to recoil in horror every time you glance down at your feet. These are the ugliest sandals of summer…but in a good way.
1. & Other Stories Leather Flatform Sandals (
$120 SALE $60) Full disclosure: I was so obsessed with these shoes that I tried them on in the store, hated them on my feet, tragically left them behind, ordered them online two days later, wore them around the house, again recoiled, and had to return them. I simply could not stomach the sight of my size 9.5. boats clomping around in heavy white platform sandals that my grandma would call orthopedic. And at the same time, I absolutely adore these shoes. Someone. Please. Finish what I started.
2. Circus by Sam Edelman Riley Lace-Up Sandal (
$80 SALE $60) Black, clunky, strapped up platforms with an unexpected shimmer and a streak of cerulean, these sandals are at once off-putting and mesmerizing. And yet, thoroughly wearable.
3. & Other Stories Wide Strap Sandals ($85) What puts these bad boys solidly in the “ugly sandal” category is the rounded, squishy sole that any good orthopedic surgeon would recommend. The extra-supportive ankle strap doesn’t hurt either.
4. Dr. Martens Clarissa Chunky Strap Sandal ($110) Thought process upon seeing these shoes: 1. Yikes 2. Must order immediately. Am I brainwashed? What is this sorcery??
5. Cos Contrast Wedges ($175) These wedges are very close to being some hyper-patriotic nonsense, but with the black they are actually pulling off whatever this is.
6. ASOS Future Two Buckle Sandals ($37) If you had told me five years ago that one day I would think that someone wearing Birkenstocks was actually trying too hard, I would have told you you were trying too hard and to cool it with the ridiculous trend forecasting. But seriously, I cannot get behind purchasing ~$135 sandals that everyone has in some misguided attempt at seeming like you’re too cool to care about fashion. Birkenstocks are now both certifiably hideous and certifiably trendy, so let’s just stop pretending. Anyway, if I was going to snag a pair of sandals in the Birkenstock style, it would probably be something like these.
7. Madewell The Sightseer Slide Sandal ($59) I recently purchased these sandals in “warm sand” (that’s the color, not store location) and they have quickly become the only shoes I wear. They go with just about any summer outfit, and I’m comfortable wearing them to work and then to the beach in a three-day span. This is the perfect ugly-but-not-too-ugly catchall sandal this summer.
8. ASOS THIS IS IT Leather Lace Up Flatforms ($73) Yo these are pretty damn ugly, and I am a huge fan. I’m not entirely sure what to make of the ripcord shoe trend happening right now, but if you’re gonna get on board might as well throw in snakeskin and platforms too right?
9. NastyGal JC Play by Jeffrey Campbell Follow Low Sandal ($38) Ah, the fashion-y version of the Adidas sandals every kid in town wore to swim team practice. You’re welcome.
10. ALDO Dwaressa ($70) Who knew tribal, cork, and platforms made such a happy marriage? Personally I think the colors make these beauties, but if you love the style and not the price, try the black and white versions that are on sale for $35.
11. NastyGal YES Agate Patent Leather Platforms $155 SALE $65 The queen of all ugly-awesome sandals requests your presence at the foot of her throne.