Once summer hits, you need shoes that feel just as breezy and beautiful as the weather—enter the dressy sandal.
Sandals are the ultimate lightweight footwear, but they’re not just for the beach. From wedges to leather slides, there’s a sandal to match just about any dress in your closet. Whether you’re heading to a backyard cookout or a formal dinner, you can let your feet breathe in an array of women’s comfortable sandals. Keep reading to find out what sandals to wear with dresses, including:
#1 Timeless Gladiator Sandals
Classic yet fun, gladiator sandals never go out of style. Boho, traditional, and even full-glam styles can benefit from these look-boosting shoes. Their winding straps accentuate your feet and legs, with a range of short and tall designs. Depending on your dress length, you can pick a height that fits best:
- Short (ankle or below) – These are your all-purpose gladiator sandals. An ankle-height sandal can go with any dress, from flowy, maxi designs to short sundresses. For a seamless look, stick with neutral browns that match any outfit.
- Medium (mid-calf) – If your sandal straps go up to the mid-calf, pairing them with a short dress is best. That way, your dress, and shoes can both be the stars of the show, instead of one overpowering the other.
- Long (knee-length) – Want legs that look longer than summer days themselves? A pair of tall gladiator sandals is your best option. Rock a confident look with a short dress that’s flowy or fitted. Thinner straps in neutral colors work as a more subtle accessory to commanding dresses, while thicker straps are the ideal option for a head-turning statement piece.
#2 Fun Beaded Sandals
It’s time to say goodbye to winter gloom. Once summer rolls around, it’s about celebrating all things light, bright, and bold—like colorful beads.
Beaded heeled or flat sandals can make your outfit pop from head to accessorized toe. From geometric rainbows to elegant white pearls, beading turns any dress sandal into show-stopping footwear. Turquoise and rainbow are popular colors, but there’s a beaded sandal to match just about any bohemian dress in your closet.
#3 Simple Slide Sandals
Easy to slip on, easy to wear—consider slide sandals the dressed-up older sister of flip flops. With their minimal design, these sandals work perfectly with casual day dresses. However, you need a slide sandal that still offers decent support. For proper women’s slide sandals, look for comfy features like:
- Arch support – Sandals shouldn’t leave your feet aching. With flat slides, seek supportive midsoles that cushion your arches. Orthotic sandals for women will leave you standing tall and striding with ease in your slides and dresses.
- Cushioning materials – Forget blisters and bruises. Your slide sandals should feel cushy both underneath and on top of your feet. Padded uppers, stretchy synthetics, and soft materials (think mesh or foam) will prevent any redness or scratches.
- Traction – Slide sandals mean easy-on and easy-off, not a slip-n-slide with every step. Outsole traction, or textured rubber, will stabilize your feet and have you stepping into summer adventure with comfort and confidence.
- Proper fit – With only one loop, your slide sandals need a secure fit. Check that the upper holds your foot in place, so that your feet don’t slip out when walking.
#4 Classic T-Strap Sandals
Looking for dressy flat sandals for wedding? A T-strap flat sandal offers an elegant design. The vertical line elongates your feet, and the simplicity of the straps complements any outfit—including dresses.
Pair them with timeless, feminine silhouettes like:
- A-line dresses
- Sheath dresses
- Blouse or shirt dresses
- Circle skirts
#5 Dressy Heeled Sandals
If your summer schedule is packed with seaside soirees, keep your feet breezy and fashionably adorned with a pair of heeled sandals.
Heeled sandals are formal footwear that provides the perfect opportunity to strut your fashion sense and place your personal style on full display. To pump-up your footwear collection, consider these types of dressy sandals:
- Block heel – A block heel looks exactly like it sounds—a heel in the shape of a block. For beginner heel wearers, you’ll make a seamless transition thanks to this sturdy and classic design.
- Stiletto – Thin and elegant, stiletto heels are the epitome of formal footwear. For that fancy summer event, throw on sandals with this ultra-feminine heel. If it’s your first time wearing stilettos, consider a shorter heel height (under two inches) for easier walking.
- Ankle strap – From ribbons to leather, an ankle strap locks your foot in place and adds a girly touch to any sandal. Ankle-straps works best with shorter hemlines, so they can really shine on sandals during the summer.
- Mules – Simple and charming, mules are like heeled slide sandals, with one or more thick straps running across the tops of your feet. Mules complement summer business attire or casual dresses.
- Slingbacks – Like a hook for your ankle, slingbacks have a loop that circles your entire heel. This strap secures your foot and elongates its appearance. Closed-toe slingbacks are popular for office wear, but you can find cute sandal varieties for a boho summer outfit as well.
- Flared – Narrow at the top, wide at the bottom, a flared heel is a groovy look. If you want a whimsical or retro-chic style, choose a strappy sandal with these curvy heels.
#6 Cute Wedges
Flirty, fashionable, yet oh-so-comfy, wedges are like a heeled sandal hack. You get the stability of a full undersole with the height of a heel—and paired with a dress, they look especially cute.
With so much extra surface area, the sides of wedge sandals matter just as much as the straps. From beachy to romantic, pick a wedge material that matches the feel of your dress, such as:
- Stacked wood
- Snake skin
- Satin or silk
- Espadrille (woven straw)
- Weave knit
#7 Retro Platforms
Similar to wedges, platforms balance the formality of heels and the comfort of flats. Not to mention, they’re just plain stylish.
Thanks to their fashion history, platform sandals pair beautifully with retro dresses across the decades. Check out platform sandal styles that are call-backs to these past eras:
- The 1990s – If you love a retro-futuristic look, combine platform shoes with some “space” elements of the ‘90s, like foam or plastic materials. The all-black platform mule was a popular look, but you can find them as flip-flops, thin-strapped, and other styles. To match the decade, wear them with a slinky slip dress or fitted midi dress.
- The 1970s – Curved and elevated, a 1970s platform sandal is always groovy. Brown leather straps around the ankle and front create an authentic vintage look—the ideal pairing for a flowy maxi dress and wrap dress.
- Ancient Greece – While not a recent decade, Ancient Greek actors originated the modern platform sandal.1 Replicate this classic look with an even platform, thick straps, and neutral leather tones. This footwear looks best under a shirt dress or blousy dress.
#8 Refined Leather Sandals
If you need a sandal that can travel from the lake dock to the office to the party, pick leather—the all-purpose sandal material.
Genuine leather shoes can last for years, holding their style through wear and tear. Even the simplest leather sandal stands because of its elegant material. However, you’ll need to take some extra care to keep your leather shoes in tip-top shape:
- Break them in – Real leather shoes (even sandals) require a breaking-in process. Otherwise, you risk scratches, blisters, and aching feet. After buying your leather sandals, pull them on and wet your feet.2 The damp leather will stretch more easily and conform to your foot shape. If you’re afraid of damaging the leather, there are other ways on how to stretch leather sandals quickly as well.
- Keep them clean – Leather sandals can be more vulnerable to dirt than closed-toe shoes. When frequently used, you should clean your sandals about every two weeks.3 First, brush off any visible dirt. Then, apply a leather cleanser, diluted dish soap, or a vinegar-water solution with a washcloth to spot-clean any areas. Last, wipe the leather sandals clean with a separate damp washcloth and let air dry.
- Apply a conditioner – While optional, a leather conditioner can preserve the elasticity and glow of your sandals. Only apply a conditioner after you’ve cleaned and dried your leather shoes.
#9 Comfy Post Sandals
They might look alike, but post sandals and flip-flops are not the same. Both sandals have a toe-post that sits at the middle of a V-shaped strap. However, a flip-flop doesn’t have much going for it when it comes to ankle or foot support. A quality post sandal, on the other hand, cushions and secures your foot with each step. Over time, you’ll feel the difference.
Whether on the boardwalk or city streets, post sandals make excellent walking sandals. Pack a pair of these comfy slip-on shoes to wear with a sundress on your next trip.
Walk, Run, and Play in Style with Vionic
Who says sandals are just for the sand? When planning your summer wardrobe, you have tons of dress sandal options to wear no matter what kind of summer dress you’ve got at hand. The best part? With Vionic, you’ll never have to choose between cute or comfy.
Our sandals are light on the foot—not light on support or style. Keep your feet breezy all season long with our biomechanical designs, crafted for maximum arch support and to support proper alignment. From fun platforms to all-purpose slides, we have women’s sandals to fit any summer outfit.
Step into your most comfortable summer yet with Vionic.
- Smith, Kendall. “The Use of the High-Soled Shoe or Buskin in Greek Tragedy of the Fifth and Fourth Centuries B. C.” JSTOR. https://www.jstor.org/stable/310339
- Lamrantz Lester, Tracey. “A 60-Second Tip For Breaking In Your New Summer Sandals.” 9 July, 2012. https://www.glamour.com/story/a-60-second-tip-for-breaking-i
- “How to clean your shoes” Shoepassion. https://www.shoepassion.com/shoe-encyclopedia/shoe-care/how-to-clean-your-shoes/
- “13 Types of Heels and How to Pair Them With Your Outfits.” MasterClass. 25 February, 2022. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/types-of-heels