I Live in NYC : Here Are the Shoes I’m Wearing This Summer

Slim sandals and city sidewalks? No, thank you.

fisherman sandals
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Shoes are to city commuters what cars are like to everyone else. They serve a real utilitarian purpose of getting you where you need to go, but they can also be stylish and distinct. When we’re talking about summer, however, finding a shoe that straddles this line while keeping you cool, comfortable, and protected is no simple feat. My first year living in New York City a rat ran over my foot on Bowery street. A trauma rendered all the more horrific due to the fact that I was wearing a pair of slim, strappy sandals. I wish I could say this was a freak incident, but I can think of least three other New Yorkers who have recounted a similar tale to me. You see, us city folk don’t enjoy the same privileges of wearing barely-there footwear like everyone else. On any given day, I might encounter broken glass, dog poop, trash, a rodent (living or dead), and a myriad of other apocalyptic obstacles that are not well-suited for exposed feet.

The solve? A lineup of shoes that speak to a summer spirit, but can withstand a crowded subway commute. “A sneaker is almost always the comfiest shoe for walking, I like to opt for a pared-back style in a summery fabric,” NET-A-PORTER Market Director Libby Jane Page tells me, who points to Alaïa’s recent collab with Superga as an example. “Following that, I love a city flat; boat shoes (we’re launching Bally’s viral Plume shoe on July 22), ballerinas, loafers, and Mary Janes all feel relevant this season, particularly those that have a summery twist, like raffia or mesh.”

When building out a summer-in-the-city shoe wardrobe you’ll need styles that are polished enough for the office, and others that can match a weekend vibe. For stylist and creative consultant Stefania Chekalina, a silhouette that’s imbued with elegance always tops her list. “I prefer classic shapes like loafers and sandals, though I am not a big fan of sandals with no sock, I like it cozy." And while most commuter-friendly shoes won’t have heels, there are always exceptions. “If I am wearing shorts (always Bermuda’s, never hot pants for me!) I love to add a walking-friendly kitten heel for a little bit of extra height,” Page says, nodding to Manolo Blahnik’s Turgimod style that comes in seven colors.

Ultimately, the recipe to a perfect summer city shoe is equal parts durability, comfort, and style. Though I can’t resist the siren call of a really slim, sleek sandal from time to time, for the days when I know I’ll be walking around the city for several hours, the five silhouettes ahead are what you’ll find me in. Continue below for a shopping guide to surviving the heat in style.

Retro Sneakers

I’ve most certainly been bitten by the retro sneaker bug — it’s the style all over my Instagram feed right now. I love the look of a slimmer silhouette, but with a playful color palette, particularly desaturated hues of green, blue, and red. Since their first collaboration in 2020, Wales Bonner and adidas Originals sneakers rarely stay in stock for long and I’m currently obsessing over their SL76 baby blue pair. For a budget-friendly pick, I’ve always loved the heritage sneaker from Feiyue, which was first introduced in Shanghai in the 1920s. Whichever style you gravitate toward, consider adding in a little white sock (as seen above), which helps tie the sneaker in with whatever else you’re wearing up top.


The season’s most feel-good fashion comeback? Jellies, of course. This nostalgic footwear staged its return just in time for summer, and while they are designed for days at the beach, recent iterations from The Row and Ancient Greek Sandals have made styling this PVC icon easy to translate to the city. I’m currently wearing this recyclable pair from Plasticana, which are imported from France, made from hemp and plastic, and are truly the most comfortable shoes in my closet right now.

Mesh Flats

Few trends have taken hold as strongly as mesh flats — they are ubiquitous at this point. Mesh flats also happen to be the perfect alternative to leather ballerinas, which when it’s 90 degrees and humid they aren’t all that enticing to wear. I gravitate toward styles similar to my skin tone for a nude effect, but also love the idea of Khaite’s gorgeous floral embroidered pair that would surely make every outfit feel that much more put together. There’s also Alaïa’s wildly popular fishnet flats, which were inspired by traditional Japanese shoes.

Fisherman Sandals

Is there anything better than fisherman sandals? They feel like the perfect mix of heritage and modernity; beautiful construction and an incredible amount of versatility, it’s a footwear silhouette that makes my heart sing. And I’m not alone. “Definitely fisherman sandals with socks, it’s such a classy relaxed look,” Chekalina tells me when prompted to share her favorite shoes for summer. Her favorite version is from Campers, which she deems as a brand that produces the most comfortable shoes ever. And if leather still feels too much for you in the heat, consider a woven raffia pair from Prada or Loeffler Randall.


Espadrilles date back several centuries, giving them a romantic, old world feel. For flats, these Mary Janes from Stuart Weitzman are so charming, as is Rothy’s lace-up pair. If you’re looking for a bit of height, turn to Rouje for their French girl espadrilles that always style seamlessly with a floaty dress and swipe of lipstick, or Castañer, which has been around since the ‘20s and created the first espadrille with a wedge alongside Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s.