These Shoes Will Be The Protagonist Of Your Spring Style Story

·6 min read

We spent the bulk of the past year inside, devoting our precious closet space to matching sweatsuits and toiling over mattress reviews online — shoes were the last thing on our minds. But, now that we’re itching to spend a little more time outside, our appetite for fresh footwear is back. While we were busy trying out banana bread recipes and going to bed really early, designers and buyers were hard at work making sure we had pumped-up loafers, barely-there sandals, and woven slides to choose from when we emerged from our hibernation haze.

As Nordstrom fashion director Elizbeth Kanfer explained, “We were thinking about new ways of dressing that were driven by comfort and casual lifestyle, so we went into market [looking for] something modern, pared-down, but long-lasting and timeless.” And while the team was on the hunt for versatility, the ideal shoe was an “essential that did not look basic or boring — we wanted to start being optimistic through print and pattern.” Their intuition paid off — what’s trending at Nordstrom now, says Kanfer, “is anything that feels fun and emotional.” Adds Lisa Says Gah merchandising director Tori Freedman: “I think people are wanting to have fun with their shoes again!”

Personally, we couldn’t wait to step into some festive footwear again — so, in addition to consulting Kanfer and Freedman, we chatted with Zappos Style Room creative director Karrie Meiklereid and Katherine Theobalds (designer and founder behind the artisan shoe imprint Zou Xou), in an effort to determine which kicks to add to our wish lists this spring. They gave us a behind-the-scenes look at what’s on the horizon this season, from puffy leather slides to built-up bottoms and clogs (of course).

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

<h2>Soft Leather</h2><br>If it seems like this season’s sandals offer leather uppers manipulated into structured-but-soft silhouettes, you’re right. Our ongoing obsession with all things cozy has even touched a material that’s traditionally reserved for rigid footwear, and suddenly animal hide (and its imitators) is folding, inflating, twisting, and turning like its flexible fabric brethren. This season, says Kanfer, “minimalism was manifested through these very simple and sophisticated leathers — soft, supple, gathered; with tons of knots and tons of pleats.”<br><br><strong>Sam Edelman</strong> Garson Slide Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nordstrom.com%2Fs%2Fsam-edelman-garson-slide-sandal-women%2F5865358" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Nordstrom" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Nordstrom</a>

Soft Leather


If it seems like this season’s sandals offer leather uppers manipulated into structured-but-soft silhouettes, you’re right. Our ongoing obsession with all things cozy has even touched a material that’s traditionally reserved for rigid footwear, and suddenly animal hide (and its imitators) is folding, inflating, twisting, and turning like its flexible fabric brethren. This season, says Kanfer, “minimalism was manifested through these very simple and sophisticated leathers — soft, supple, gathered; with tons of knots and tons of pleats.”

Sam Edelman Garson Slide Sandal, $, available at Nordstrom
<br><br><strong>ROAM</strong> Puffy Slides, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.shopbop.com%2Fpuffy-slides-roam%2Fvp%2Fv%3D1%2F1513731918.htm%3FfolderID%3D66188" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shopbop" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Shopbop</a>


ROAM Puffy Slides, $, available at Shopbop
<br><br><strong>Dear Frances</strong> Tye Slide, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fdearfrances.com%2Fproducts%2Ftye-slide-black" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Dear Frances" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Dear Frances</a>


Dear Frances Tye Slide, $, available at Dear Frances
<br><br><strong>Sam Edelman</strong> Janis Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.urbanoutfitters.com%2Fshop%2Fcircus-by-sam-edelman-janis-sandal%3Fcategory%3Dwomens-sandals%26color%3D066%26type%3DREGULAR%26quantity%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Urban Outfitters" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Urban Outfitters</a>


Sam Edelman Janis Sandal, $, available at Urban Outfitters
<h2>Naked Sandal<br></h2><br><br>This scandalously strappy silhouette is not ashamed to make its triumphant return to our feet this summer — and our tootsies, having been cooped up in socks and shearling slippers all winter long, are ready to feel the air down there. Kanfer’s team embraced “the movement away from the mule and into that naked, square toe sandal.” She adds: “They’re not dressy, but they’re definitely for an occasion.”<br><br><strong>Stuart Weitzman</strong> Sawyer Slide Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nordstrom.com%2Fs%2Fstuart-weitzman-sawyer-slide-sandal-women%2F5820499" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Nordstrom" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Nordstrom</a>

Naked Sandal



This scandalously strappy silhouette is not ashamed to make its triumphant return to our feet this summer — and our tootsies, having been cooped up in socks and shearling slippers all winter long, are ready to feel the air down there. Kanfer’s team embraced “the movement away from the mule and into that naked, square toe sandal.” She adds: “They’re not dressy, but they’re definitely for an occasion.”

Stuart Weitzman Sawyer Slide Sandal, $, available at Nordstrom
<br><br><strong>Zara</strong> Heeled Leather Sandal with Thin Straps, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zara.com%2Fus%2Fen%2Fheeled-leather-sandals-with-thin-straps-p13892710.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Zara" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Zara</a>


Zara Heeled Leather Sandal with Thin Straps, $, available at Zara
<br><br><strong>Zou Xou</strong> Lagos Sandal in Black, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F822505411%2Flagos-sandal-in-black" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Etsy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Etsy</a>


Zou Xou Lagos Sandal in Black, $, available at Etsy
<br><br><strong>Urban Outfitters</strong> Cindy Strappy Heel, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.urbanoutfitters.com%2Fshop%2Fuo-cindy-strappy-heel%3Fcategory%3Dwomens-sandals%26color%3D030%26type%3DREGULAR%26quantity%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Urban Outfitters" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Urban Outfitters</a>


Urban Outfitters Cindy Strappy Heel, $, available at Urban Outfitters
<h2>Sport Sandals<br></h2><br>“As everyone started to escape to the outdoors, we saw a huge resurgence in sport sandals,” says Kanfer of last year’s rush on activity-ready footwear. (“Think sandals with a lug-sole type bottom,” explains Meiklereid of the style.) Good news: rugged open-air footwear is back this season, and it’s got even more of a footprint — the bigger the better, it seems. “I’ve gleaned that women are really gravitating towards chunky sportier styles,” adds Theobalds, “anything that gives visual weight to an overall look.”<br><br><strong>Merrell</strong> Alpine Strap Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zappos.com%2Fp%2Fmerrell-alpine-strap-mint%2Fproduct%2F9467781%2Fcolor%2F960" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Zappos" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Zappos</a>

Sport Sandals


“As everyone started to escape to the outdoors, we saw a huge resurgence in sport sandals,” says Kanfer of last year’s rush on activity-ready footwear. (“Think sandals with a lug-sole type bottom,” explains Meiklereid of the style.) Good news: rugged open-air footwear is back this season, and it’s got even more of a footprint — the bigger the better, it seems. “I’ve gleaned that women are really gravitating towards chunky sportier styles,” adds Theobalds, “anything that gives visual weight to an overall look.”

Merrell Alpine Strap Sandal, $, available at Zappos
<br><br><strong>Raid</strong> Chunky Heeled Sandals, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.asos.com%2Fus%2Fraid-wide-fit%2Fraid-wide-fit-chunky-heeled-sandals-in-black%2Fprd%2F22509428" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:ASOS" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">ASOS</a>


Raid Chunky Heeled Sandals, $, available at ASOS
<br><br><strong>Camper</strong> Oruga Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.camper.com%2Fen_US%2Fwomen%2Fshoes%2Foruga%2Fcamper-oruga-K201037-005" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Camper" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Camper</a>


Camper Oruga Sandal, $, available at Camper
<br><br><strong>Marni</strong> Track Sole Sandals, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.shopbop.com%2Ftrack-sole-sandal-marni%2Fvp%2Fv%3D1%2F1508478403.htm" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shopbop" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Shopbop</a>


Marni Track Sole Sandals, $, available at Shopbop
<h2>New Pastels<br></h2><br>During market, explains Kanfer, the Nordstrom buying team found themselves surrounded by “beautiful, low-key pastels; like butter yellow, beautiful lilac, baby blue.” Whether or not the reign of millennial pink is finally yielding to the neighboring tones on the spectrum, one thing is for certain: “This past year has been challenging, to say the least, and some of these brighter colors [offer] a mood-boosting effect,” says Meiklereid.<br><br><strong>Dolce Vita</strong> Zina Sneaker, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zappos.com%2Fp%2Fdolce-vita-zina-sherbet-multi-fabric%2Fproduct%2F9476506%2Fcolor%2F915676" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Zappos" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Zappos</a>

New Pastels


During market, explains Kanfer, the Nordstrom buying team found themselves surrounded by “beautiful, low-key pastels; like butter yellow, beautiful lilac, baby blue.” Whether or not the reign of millennial pink is finally yielding to the neighboring tones on the spectrum, one thing is for certain: “This past year has been challenging, to say the least, and some of these brighter colors [offer] a mood-boosting effect,” says Meiklereid.

Dolce Vita Zina Sneaker, $, available at Zappos
<br><br><strong>Charles & Keith</strong> Snake Print Clear Strap Mules, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.charleskeith.com%2Fus%2Fshoes%2FCK1-60050919_AP.PP.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Charles & Keith" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Charles & Keith</a>


Charles & Keith Snake Print Clear Strap Mules, $, available at Charles & Keith
<br><br><strong>Everlane</strong> The Forever Slip-On Sneaker, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.everlane.com%2Fproducts%2Fwomens-forever-slip-on-sneaker-citrus%3Fcollection%3Dwomens-shoes" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Everlane" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Everlane</a>


Everlane The Forever Slip-On Sneaker, $, available at Everlane
<br><br><strong>Birkenstock</strong> Arizona EVA Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.urbanoutfitters.com%2Fshop%2Fbirkenstock-arizona-eva-sandal%3Fcategory%3Dwomens-birkenstocks%26color%3D038" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Urban Outfitters" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Urban Outfitters</a>


Birkenstock Arizona EVA Sandal, $, available at Urban Outfitters
<h2>Craft and Natural Textures<br></h2><br>If a shoe has a hand-hewn feel, advises Meiklereid, it’s destined for cult status this spring. “Natural textures are a big trend,” she shares. “It goes back to wanting to be closer to nature and the desire to invest in craftsmanship and thoughtfully made pieces.” Kanfer confers that shoppers can expect nothing but “craft, craft, craft — and artisanal, woven effects in sandals.”<br><br><strong>Kaanas</strong> Bronte Woven Flat Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://www.amazon.com/KAANAS-Womens-Bronte-Fashion-Regular/dp/B07NQDWMYB" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Amazon" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Amazon</a>

Craft and Natural Textures


If a shoe has a hand-hewn feel, advises Meiklereid, it’s destined for cult status this spring. “Natural textures are a big trend,” she shares. “It goes back to wanting to be closer to nature and the desire to invest in craftsmanship and thoughtfully made pieces.” Kanfer confers that shoppers can expect nothing but “craft, craft, craft — and artisanal, woven effects in sandals.”

Kaanas Bronte Woven Flat Sandal, $, available at Amazon
<br><br><strong>Nomadic State of Mind</strong> Romano Sandals, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.freepeople.com%2Fshop%2Fnomadic-state-romano-sandal%2F%3Fcategory%3Dnew-shoes%26color%3D040%26type%3DREGULAR%26quantity%3D1" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Free People" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Free People</a>


Nomadic State of Mind Romano Sandals, $, available at Free People
<br><br><strong>Giovanna</strong> Ceres Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thisisgiovanna.com%2Fshop-1%2Fceres-slide-black" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Giovanna" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Giovanna</a>


Giovanna Ceres Sandal, $, available at Giovanna
<br><br><strong>Staud</strong> Mona Beaded Sandal, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fstaud.clothing%2Fcollections%2Fspring-21%2Fproducts%2Fmona-beaded-sandal-nectarine-multi-bead%3Fvariant%3D39324184969389" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Staud" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Staud</a>


Staud Mona Beaded Sandal, $, available at Staud
<h2>Loafers<br></h2><br>You already know that the loafer has been hitting the gym — we’ve spotted tons of newly <a href="https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/chunky-loafers" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:swole soles on this formerly dainty and diminutive shoe" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">swole soles on this formerly dainty and diminutive shoe</a>. It’s not stopping there, says Kanfer — this silhouette is letting its freak flag fly in the form of unexpected colors and eye-catching embellishments. “There’s loafers, there’s platform loafers, there’s chain details on loafers — they’re everywhere,” she explains. “We’re calling it ‘playful prep.’”<br><br><strong>Jeffrey Campbell</strong> Lenna Penny Loafer, $, available at <a href="https://amzn.to/2PXrtpF" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Nordstrom" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Nordstrom</a>

Loafers


You already know that the loafer has been hitting the gym — we’ve spotted tons of newly swole soles on this formerly dainty and diminutive shoe. It’s not stopping there, says Kanfer — this silhouette is letting its freak flag fly in the form of unexpected colors and eye-catching embellishments. “There’s loafers, there’s platform loafers, there’s chain details on loafers — they’re everywhere,” she explains. “We’re calling it ‘playful prep.’”

Jeffrey Campbell Lenna Penny Loafer, $, available at Nordstrom
<br><br><strong>Caverley</strong> Selina Loafer, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Flisasaysgah.com%2Fcollections%2Fshoes%2Fproducts%2Fselina-loafer-cow-print%3Fvariant%3D38086088163508" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Lisa Says Gah" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Lisa Says Gah</a>


Caverley Selina Loafer, $, available at Lisa Says Gah
<br><br><strong>Zou Xou</strong> The Pilar Mule, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F879040736%2Fthe-pilar-mule-in-black" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Etsy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Etsy</a>


Zou Xou The Pilar Mule, $, available at Etsy
<br><br><strong>Cole Haan</strong> Modern Classics Loafer, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.colehaan.com%2Fmodern-classics-loafer-bright-berry%2FW20816.html" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Cole Haan" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Cole Haan</a>


Cole Haan Modern Classics Loafer, $, available at Cole Haan
<h2>Clogs <br></h2><br>Last but not least, the slip-on shoe that became our standby during the endless housebound weeks of 2020 is ready to accompany us outside — and it’s popping up in colors and fabrication that beg to be seen. The growing clog-session with this grounded shoe, explains Theobalds, “is rooted in a return to the classics. There’s this desire for something long-lasting, really wanting to invest in [a shoe] that will live in your closet and stand the test of time.” There are a lot of clodhopping brands out there, but “the go-to is Swedish Hasbeens,” says Meiklereid. “They’ve been around forever.”<br><br><strong>Swedish Hasbeens</strong> Swedish Husband Clog, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zappos.com%2Fp%2Fswedish-hasbeens-swedish-husband-neon-green%2Fproduct%2F8725117%2Fcolor%2F3879" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Zappos" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Zappos</a>

Clogs


Last but not least, the slip-on shoe that became our standby during the endless housebound weeks of 2020 is ready to accompany us outside — and it’s popping up in colors and fabrication that beg to be seen. The growing clog-session with this grounded shoe, explains Theobalds, “is rooted in a return to the classics. There’s this desire for something long-lasting, really wanting to invest in [a shoe] that will live in your closet and stand the test of time.” There are a lot of clodhopping brands out there, but “the go-to is Swedish Hasbeens,” says Meiklereid. “They’ve been around forever.”

Swedish Hasbeens Swedish Husband Clog, $, available at Zappos
<br><br><strong>FitFlop</strong> Allegro Mule, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.fitflop.com%2Fus%2Fen%2Fshop%2Fallegro-buckle-leather-mules-p-CV8%23668" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:FitFlop" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">FitFlop</a>


FitFlop Allegro Mule, $, available at FitFlop
<br><br><strong>Hunter</strong> Play Clog, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zappos.com%2Fp%2Fhunter-original-play-clog-hummingbird%2Fproduct%2F9512929%2Fcolor%2F221765" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Zappos" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Zappos</a>


Hunter Play Clog, $, available at Zappos
<br><br><strong>Clogshop</strong> Topstiched Black Clogs, $, available at <a href="https://go.skimresources.com/?id=30283X879131&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etsy.com%2Flisting%2F95296406%2Fclogs-black-with-black-sole" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Etsy" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Etsy</a>


Clogshop Topstiched Black Clogs, $, available at Etsy

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