Cozy slides, sneakers, and slippers have anchored most outfits over the past year and a half, but with summer officially in swing, it’s time to switch gears and lighten things up in the footwear department. Sandals are undoubtedly a warm-weather staple, as are strappy heels and wedges for an elegant lift. But when you’re craving more polish and comfort at once, it’s all about the summer flat.
“As we start to return to school and work, we will be looking for styles that are appropriate and professional while still embracing that sense of comfort that we’ve adopted in the past year,” says Marissa Galante Frank, Bloomingdale’s fashion director for accessories and beauty. “Flats are a great extension of this mindset, and there are various interpretations, making it easy for shoppers to find a pair that matches their personal style.” Since the category is all-encompassing, you can embrace everything from a loafer to a ballet flat to transform your look. Keep an eye out for silhouettes that won’t pinch or rub, and that can add a simple sophistication to warm-weather looks.
For 2021, the most popular flat trends have an artisanal feel — think woven details or supple leather. Then there are quintessential styles like espadrilles and loafers, both of which have emerged with a new-season spin; espadrilles include vibrant colors and cheerful prints, while loafers range from ultra-minimalist designs to chunky soles á la the ’90s and early Aughts. A few unexpected hits are on deck, too, such as clogs and fisherman sandals. Though both slightly veer from conventional flat designs, each boasts comfort with added cool-factor in tandem with summer dresses, easy basics, and lightweight separates.
Suggesting neutral colors like soft pink, camels, and flesh tones to start when building a summer collection, as “they’re easier to incorporate into your daily rotation,” Galante Frank attributes the abundance of summer flats to the return to prep as an overarching seasonal trend. While you can fully lean into the aesthetic with a quirky knit, loosely tailored shorts, and flats, the fashion director highlights several outfits that simply nod to the aesthetic. “You cannot go wrong with the classic look of a striped top, straight leg denim, and a ballet flat — it’s an essential outfit formula that everyone should have in their closet,” she tells TZR. “Another way of wearing ballet flats, which I personally love, is pairing them with a destructed denim style as the flat offers an unexpected, sophisticated twist.” Flats also work well for special occasions, says the fashion director. “You can easily dress up in a fun pair while staying comfortable, as they take embellishments and sparkle well. I love hosting dinner parties in a chic closed-toe flat or mule.”
Keep scrolling to discover 10 summer flats trends taking over the season, and shop the edit for options at every price point.
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Ballerinas are the epitome of a classic flat, and this season, modern iterations abound from minimalist designs with square toes to knitted silhouettes and so-cute ballet slipper-inspired styles. “They’re easy to dress up with a dress or down with a classic striped shirt and straight-leg denim,” Galante Frank says. “The Jimmy Choo Ade ballerina flats are currently on my wishlist. They have this beautiful classic pearl touch which makes them the perfect shoe for the office or a casual weekend brunch.”
Woven leather boasts a hand-crafted feel and is utterly quintessential in the heat. Go the ultra-modern route in a square-toe mule, keep things classic in an airy loafer, or master modern femininity in a lace-up ballerina.
Though they’re synonymous with fall, loafers are a stylish finish with summer attire when you’re after a not-too-precious look. For added toughness, ‘90s-inspired lug-sole styles bring an added freshness to your look, especially in fun colors and prints. “The loafer trend prioritizes comfort and can be an easy workwear staple,” says Galante Frank. “They look chic with everything from trousers to printed dresses and give you flexibility in terms of what to wear them with. I love how the slingback design of Ganni’s lug-sole style makes it feel modern and transitional through the seasons.”
From minimal and dainty to airier versions crafted from natural materials, mules are a refined finish with summertime outfits of all kinds — think gauzy white dresses, linen separates, and loose denim pared-back to easy tanks and tees.
Like minimalist sneakers, pared-back flats feature a streamlined sensibility that effortlessly melds with casual and elegant attire. Try yours with a shorts suit for work, or offset a feminine dress with a bold square-toe ballerina.
“Overall, a retro ’70s moment is happening right now, and clogs fit perfectly into this trend,” Galante Frank explains. “While some aren’t perfectly flat, they certainly have the comfort aspect of a flat and are easy to walk around in all day. I love the slip-on clogs from Swedish Hasbeens. Loeffler Randall also has a beautiful style with studding details that work well in any setting.” To keep this trend from skewing a little too retro, try styling with denim cutoffs or a crisp white dress.
Colorful flats are the season’s most joyful flat trend, combining summer’s cheerful color palette with the continued need for comfort. Ease in with a sweet pastel such as blush or lilac. Or, really go for it in a punchy shade of yellow, orange, green, or fuchsia.
Espadrilles are quintessential in the heat. Refresh your assortment with a pair in a bright color, playful print, or effortless slip-ons. While canvas styles work well with casual staples and resort wear, leather iterations read effortlessly smart with polished pieces and work attire.
Though they’re technically a sandal-flat hybrid, fisherman sandals offer more foot coverage — a stylish middle point between skimpy sandals and too-toasty flats. “The Fisherman sandal is the perfect trans-seasonal shoe,” says Galante Frank. “It feels effortlessly chic and adds a classic touch to any outfit.”