When thinking of summer footwear, thong-style flip-flops and strappy sandals likely are the first shoes to come to mind. But what about when you’re in between pedicure appointments and your chipped polish is not something you particularly want on display? Or if accumulating and carrying around street grime on your feet (city-livers, if you know, you know) isn’t something you want to deal with on a blisteringly sweaty day? Enter: the best closed-toe summer shoes. These options offer ventilation, keeping your feet cool as an open sandal would, all while being a more modest, covered-up option that still exudes a laidback and inherently summery feel.
But before you wade aimlessly into the vast market of closed-toe footwear, Taylor Tomasi Hill, creative and fashion director of THE YES, advises you first to consult summer 2022’s shoe trends. “While many apparel and accessories trends are looking back just a couple decades to the ’00s, shoes are headed back much further — all the way to the ’70s,” Tomasi Hill tells TZR. She herself is partial to retro-inspired clogs, saying, “the chunkier the heel and the higher the platform, the better.”
And perhaps controversially (depending on what side you fall on for the Great Croc Debate), Tomasi Hill also says rubber closed-toe shoes are poised to be a standout style this season. “It’s my favorite [shoe trend] of the summer. Practically indestructible, you can wear [rubber shoes] everywhere and then rinse off when you’re done. And — bonus points! — the rubber styles from Balenciaga’s collab with Crocs come with built-in ventilation,” she points out.
So, if you’ve never abided by a suns-out, toes-out mentality, opt for shoes that keep your feet enclosed this summer. Ahead, find a greater breakdown of the trending closed-toe shoes, along with more insight from Tomasi Hill and an expert from The RealReal. Oh, and an edit to shop, too, of course.
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Noelle Sciacca, senior fashion lead of women’s, fine jewelry, and home of The RealReal, shouts out espadrilles as an obvious closed-toe shoe option for summer. In particular, she invites you to try a lofty flatform style — “like these espadrilles from Miu Miu, that are a little bit Y2k and a little bit sport and are trending as well.” In addition, Sciacca says a wedge espadrille achieves a similar elevated effect if you don’t trust your mobility in a sky-high, level platform design.
“Clogs are just about the only closed-toe shoe I can get behind in the summer, probably because they’re so easy to slip in and out of,” says Tomasi Hill. “Who can fuss with laces and buckles at every road-trip pitstop or when you hear an ice cream truck?”
Now, onto shopping the polarizing, “ugly” shoes: “Ulla Johnson has some perfect neutral options, while LABUCQ makes a statement with extra-large metal studs. Tasseled and buckled offerings from Maje are also at the top of my list because their hardware details add a more dressed-up element,” the creative and fashion director shares.
Sciacca reports that “sneakers are replacing sandals as the summer shoe amongst Gen Z’s trendsetters. In fact, looking at May and June of this year compared to last, we’re seeing search demand for sneakers is up nearly 30%.” As for specific pairs she expects to be ubiquitous this season, The RealReal expert shouts out, “retro styles like the Adidas Samba, along with slip-ons like those offered by Maison Margiela, which give the tried and true classic sneaker a fresh take.”
Tomasi Hill says backless mules are another easy, no-fuss closed-toe option to consider. And for those unafraid of an eccentric statement, she encourages you to go full-tilt maximalist with Bottega Veneta’s Rubber Flash Mule. “They’re not a shoe; they’re a whole moment! I adore mine, and the friends that teased me at first now have pairs of their own,” she tells TZR. “They’ve been in constant rotation this summer in my garden and, I suspect, for summers to come.”
Huaraches, a handmade Mexican sandal with a flat sole and intricately woven leather straps, are another enclosed option to consider inviting into your summer footwear rotation. As for styling the artisanal shoes, Sciacca says they “can easily be paired with a breezy cotton dress for a versatile look that will take you from day to night.”
It’s essential, though, to understand and appreciate the shoe’s legacy, which predates the European colonization of Mexico. Derived from the Tarascan word kwarachi, which is spoken by the Purépecha people of Jalisco and translates to “sandal,” traditional huaraches specifically refer to the craft of leather-weaving and must be made by hand.
Lastly, and perhaps the most effortless shoe on this list: the humble slipper. From a Venetian style to a canvas lace-up to a luscious leather slide, 2022's edit of trending slip-ons come in various silhouettes, meaning you can certainly find one that suits your taste and needs. For one akin to your at-home pair, opt for Scarosso's hand-crafted velvet slippers, which can be worn both indoors and outdoors. Meanwhile, the leather options from Victoria Beckham or Sergio Rossi boast a more refined feel, giving them a much more luxe and opulent vibe than your worn-in bedroom slippers.