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Don’t get me wrong, I love a high heel or a statement boot as much as the next girl—but sometimes, my feet need a break. That doesn’t mean I’ll allow myself to wear shoes I don’t love, though! Over the past 12 months, I’ve upgraded my loungewear from ratty college sweats to stylish two-piece sets, so who says I can’t give my comfortable footwear a fashion-forward glow-up, too? Cue this year’s comfortable shoe trends, all five of which are already in my online shopping cart.
Comfort and style are not mutually exclusive. I repeat: comfort and style are not mutually exclusive! There are tons of silhouettes on the market right now that feel as good on your tired feet as they look on your Instagram feed; you just need to figure out which ones suit your personal style the best and stock up.
No surprise, our favorite sneakers always come to mind when we think of comfortable footwear, but this year, it’s all about channeling a retro feel with muted colorways and vintage-inspired shapes. If you’re looking for a slightly more formal feel, try loafers edged up with chunky platform soles. Who says workwear can’t double as street style?
My favorite comfortable shoe trend of the moment is the ballet flat, an underrated slice of heaven all dolled up with fun details like hardware and chain detailing. That said, I’m pretty damn impressed with the comeback of the Birkenstock sandal. I never thought I’d be buying them for anything other than a camping trip, but suddenly, designer iterations have me changing my tune.
Last but not least, ditch the slippers you’ve been living in for the past 12 months and get a pair of slides you can actually wear out of the house. Don’t worry! They can still be comfy AF thanks to shearling lining and fluffy soles.
Read on for the top five must-try comfortable shoe trends of the moment, plus a few styles to shop right now.
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Tap into your outdoorsy side with slide sandals inspired by the iconic Birkenstock silhouette. Go for classic Birks or updated takes with fun patterns and materials—or, opt for designer sandals that pay homage to the classic camp-ready look, like a tie-dye take from Alexandre Birman that’s a must for spring and summer.
Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle Slide in Vermouth
If you’ve never had a pair of Birks before, this is the year to treat yourself. My faves feature gold hardware and this dreamy dark red nubuck leather, which can be styled as a neutral and worn with everything.
Freedom Moses Two Band Slides in Blue Jeans
At just $50, these Freedom Moses sandals need to be your summer pool slides. I love the faux-denim print and the waterproof, non-slip footbeds make these perfect for a day of beachy adventure.
Alexandre Birman Clarita Slide in Tie Dye
Want some Birks-inspired sandals worth a splurge? Tie-dye lovers will do wild for these Alexandre Birman slides, with feature bow detailing in lieu of the silhouette’s signature buckles.
Funky Ballet Flats
Whether or not you’re a prima ballerina, it’s time to add a pair of ballet flats to your collection. No, not those worn-in Tory Burch ones you’ve had since college—although an updated take with a logo print will do. In 2021, ballet flats combine sweetness with some edge via chain details, gold hardware, ruched materials and unexpected prints.
Vince Camuto Latenla Ankle Strap Ballet Flat in Biscuit
These beautiful Vince Camuto ballet flats are a wear-with-everything dream, made extra-special by the gold chain ankle strap, which almost passes as an anklet. We love a built-in accessory!
SCHUTZ Emmie Flat in Black & Gold
For a little more hardware and a big statement, this elevated take on the ballet flat by SCHUTZ is a steal for under $120. The gold grommet detailing really adds a luxe look, and the backless heel provides a little more freedom than the traditional flat.
Tory Burch Logo Ballet Flat in Pink Caning Logo Geo
Don’t lie—we all had a pair of Tory flats in high school or college that we wore until we couldn’t justify them any longer. They’re just so well-made and go with everything! In 2021, the classic style gets an upgrade with this fun logo print.
Before you fall prey to sneaker trends that’ll be over before you know it—like dropping $500 on a pair of already-dirty Golden Goose kicks—look to the past for retro-inspired silhouettes and colorways that are as cute as they are timeless. Think muted hues with pops of color (no neons, please!) and athletic logos front and center. Whether you go high or low (high-top or low-top, that is) this look won’t ever get old.
Nike Daybreak Sneaker in Summit White/Pale Ivory
What do you get when you mix nylon, suede, and Nike’s 1979 Tailwind marathon silhouette? The perfect neutral kicks for 2021, that’s what. These Nikes look great with everything from ratty denim to dreamy summer dresses.
HOFF Brussels City Sneaker in Rose
HOFF makes some of the coolest sneaker colorways I’ve ever seen, and these kicks are no exception. This chocolate-covered-strawberry-esque color scheme lends itself perfectly to this year’s brown trend.
New Balance 997 Classic Sneakers in Grey
New Balance had a trendy revival last year, and they aren’t showing signs of slowing down. These cowhide and mesh sneakers have just the right amount of color, grounded by a grey and neutral base you could pair with anything.
Finally, the fashion-forward update to everyone’s favorite office footwear is here! This season, loafers are getting a major upgrade to take them from workwear to street style chic, and there are tons of different ways to play them up. Swap simple and subtle for funky colors, chain detailing and even extra-chunky lug soles or platforms.
Vagabond Shoes Alex Penny Loafer in Off White
The contrast between the white uppers and the black soles on these Vagabond Shoes loafers gives them an edgy twist that isn’t too wild to style for meetings and appointments. That said, you could totally pair them with an all-black look on the weekends for an unexpected pop.
Vince Camuto Jorda Loafer in Stone Snake Print
Printed loafers are all the rage right now, and this Vince Camuto pair features a gorgeous blue snake print guaranteed to turn heads, although they do offer two more muted snake print styles if this one feels too over-the-top for your taste.
Steve Madden Meadow Loafer in Cognac Patent
Steve Madden is killing the chunky loafer game this season, so check them out for thick lug soles and chain detailing. They offer a few bold colors, but if you’re still easing in to this exaggerated look, try this safer (still-fab) cognac instead.
It may be time to swap your slippers for something you can actually wear out of the house, but that certainly doesn’t mean you need to say goodby to comfortable footwear for good. Slides of all sorts are trendy this season, from sporty silhouettes by brands like APL to fluffy UGG styles so soft, you won’t want to take them off when you get home. Up your sandal game and make your flats so cute, heels are never necessary again.
APL Lusso Slides in Rose Dust
APL is known for their stylish sneakers, but these sheepskin quilted slides with rubber soles are definitely some of my favorite footwear from the brand. I love that the silhouette is sporty, but the light-as-air pink and quilting details give a girly flair.
Madewell Patty Crisscross Lug Sandals in English Saddle
If you’re looking for a slide sandal with a bit more support, go for these Madewell sandals with a thicker lug sole and stylish cross-band leather detailing. Expect these to become your new warm-weather staple.
UGG Cozette Genuine Shearling Slide in Black
This one’s for those of you having trouble parting with your favorite slippers. UGG’s Cozette sandals are just as fluffy and soft, but they have a durable sole for outdoor wear, so you won’t end up ruining them after one stroll.