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Over the past few years, ‘90s and early ‘00s trends have been a recurring theme in fashion, with everything from Gap logo hoodies and Bratz-inspired styles to whale tails and belly chains making a comeback. Now, our collective psyche has unearthed yet another staple from the decade: the heeled thong sandal.
In their heyday, the style varied from uncomfortable jelly shoes and mall-ready foam platforms to nightclub-approved heels. Back then, celebrities like Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani championed the trend, pairing them with other staples of the era, like the low-rise jeans and mini skirts.
Today, the throwback trend has taken off with the help of runway designers like Prada and Bottega Veneta, as well as Instagram-popular brands like By Far, Cult Gaia, and Reike Nen. The Row’s Constance sandal is a particular favorite among the fashion crowd, counting Kendall Jenner and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as celebrity fans.
But the styles of today are a far cry from Cady Heron’s uniform of choice — though army pants are back in style as well. Gone are the thong sandals featuring bedazzled embellishments, foam material, and plastic-y details. Today, the style is looking sleeker with kitten heels, thin straps, and asymmetrical designs. Take, for example, Jil Sander’s spring 2022 collection. The German brand did a minimalist spin on the thong heels, with T-shaped straps. Meanwhile, The Row showed thong sandals featuring gladiator-style ties.
But while some might argue that the glorified flip-flop has been experiencing a resurgence for some time now — see: the runways and the street style of the past two years; see also: Rihanna — what’s new about the shoe style’s most recent comeback is the styling. Instead of denim shorts or mini skirts, thong sandals are now paired with work-appropriate pieces — white button-down shirts, flowing skirts, tailored pants, etc. — that elevate the beach go-to to corporate-chic status.
For the aforementioned show, Jil Sander designers, Luke and Lucie Meier, chose to pair the sandals with a floral-printed top-and-trouser combo and a monochrome jacket-and-pant outfit. For its latest collection, Burberry showed beige heeled thong sandals with an array of classic trench coats and dresses, looks that wouldn’t look out of place in a boardroom.
At a time when workwear is being reimagined thanks to the new hybrid office models, thong sandals offer a comfortable way to skip the constricting footwear of the pre-pandemic past. This follows other dress code-busting trends like leather harnesses, plunging V-neck blazers, and sneakers. And as spring rolls around, this trend will only accelerate, making thong sandals the next It shoe to pair with your office suit.
So before it’s time to head back, be sure to plan your heeled thong sandals with the options below.
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