If the current heatwave has taught me anything, it’s that the men of Britain need new summer shoes. Cast your eyes down at your next barbecue, or in the beer garden at your local pub, and you’ll see untold horrors: over-the-hill hiking sandals; battered boat shoes, those somewhat dodgy Reef flip flops with a bottle opener in the sole.
While men may pay vast amounts of attention to their trainers and dig into the details when it comes to finding the right brogue, when it comes to summer shoes it seems to go haywire. But there are more stylish solutions for men in warm weather and none of them are the kind of scary, directional styles that you’ll only see at fashion week.
First things first: if you haven’t bought any new summer footwear for several years, go into your wardrobe, take out those €10 sandals that you bought in a Greek minimarket 15 years ago when your old ones broke and throw them in the bin. Yes, I know you can still put them on your feet, but don’t.
Then assemble your new summer footwear arsenal, which should include at least one pair of sandals, a pair of proper shoes (eg a loafer) and a trainer or plimsoll. Steer clear of pool slides unless you’re in the vicinity of a pool; ditto hiking sandals unless you’re going hiking and running trainers unless you’re going for a run.
You’ll be gratified to hear that expensive does not always mean better. Birkenstocks, for instance, are well priced and timeless. Espadrilles, which the Spanish have been wearing since the 14th century, are a safe bet for those who prefer a closed toe. A sleek trainer with athletic-style socks (avoid anything funny or novelty) will work with most things. For smarter occasions, you can’t go wrong with a brown leather loafer.
My last piece of advice? Don’t dismiss the idea of a pedicure. It’s basic grooming and nobody should be baring their toes in public without some sort of tidy-up. You might even enjoy it…
Step into summer with these shoes
1. The classic Birkenstock
Easy to slip on, can be worn with pretty much anything, and will never date. Wear with socks if you dare.
Leather two strap sandals, £95, Birkenstock
2. The fisherman sandal
A modern classic with more coverage and support than a slip-on sandal. Go for a grown-up take on the style to wear with rolled-up chinos after sundown.
Leather and grosgrain sandals, £125, Russell & Bromley
3. The espadrille
The rope sole and canvas upper makes for a relaxed look that’s stylish and summery without trying too hard.
Canvas espadrilles, £60, Toms
4. The plimsoll
Your everyday summer shoe, which can be teamed with jeans, shorts, chinos, you name it. Just don’t wear them with black socks.
Leather plimsolls, £120, Veja
5. The trainer
The so-called “dad trainer” has become a wardrobe staple that nods to the 90s. This style strikes a nice balance between nostalgia and modernity.
Trainers, £100, New Balance
6. The loafer
For work, weddings and any smart summer event, decent loafers will stand you in good stead. Suede is more low-key than leather – but always use a protective spray.
Suede loafers, £89.95, Massimo Dutti