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The first time I laid eyes on jelly sandals, I ignored them. Because they seemed like one of those ‘90s relics that could only ever skew juvenile. But jelly sandals—in all their seemingly elementary glory—have managed to endure, only growing in pervasion since they first trickled into the zeitgeist in 2016. And now, I’ve gotta say, I kind of love them.
I feel about jelly sandals the same way I feel about many of the early aughts trends that have seen a resurrection in 2019: They’re so ugly, so tacky, so inherently cringe-worthy that they’re actually kind of delightful. Since we can all agree the aughts were a regrettable time as far as clothing goes, we can now pull from the era’s fashions without fear of being judged. Because everyone surely knows that we’re being ironic, that we’re self-aware enough to understand that whatever heinous thing we’ve put on is genuinely ugly, and that we’re only wearing it because we’re fun enough to treat fashion as a realm for play, not for self-seriousness.
Jelly sandals—like tiny sunglasses, and lettuce hems, and fuzzy shoes, and so many other retro revivals—are just another trend we love to hate-wear. Because we know they’re not particularly chic or hip or cool, but sometimes, being chic or hip or cool isn’t the point. Sometimes, we want to play dress up the way we used to as children. Sometimes, we want to adorn our bodies with mesh tops and bejeweled jeans and semi-transparent, clunky AF, colorful shoes. Because it’s just a fun thing to do. And really, couldn’t we all use a little more fun in our lives?
1. Time Travel Jelly Sandal, $85 at Free People
The most stunning jelly sandal specimen I’ve ever laid eyes on.
2. Flax Jelly Flat Sandals, $18 at ASOS
If you were averse to last year’s slide trend, maybe seeing them in super-fun jelly form will change your mind.
3. Caged Jelly Sandals, $14.90 at Forever 21
Definitely would’ve worn these as a 5-year-old. Definitely would still wear them as a 24-year-old.
4. Wide-Fit Fern Jelly Sliders, $16 at ASOS
Why shouldn’t your go-to slides be as comfy as your favorite leggings?
5. Gem Embellished Jelly Slides, $11.99 at Forever 21
I mean. They’re literally covered in glitter and fake gems. How much more delightful can you get?
6. Kelly Jelly Flat, $38 at Free People
More into flats than sandals? Don’t you worry—the jelly shoe movement has your back, too.
7. Glitter Jelly Thong Sandals, $8.99 at Forever 21
Slides that won’t fly off your feet the moment you get a little sweaty. (You know that’s a real concern you have.)
8. Veronica Jelly Strap Sandal, $39 at Urban Outfitters
A touch of jelly for the person who wants to have fun—but not too much fun.
9. Strappy Jelly Sandals, $12.90 at Forever 21
Wear these to the bar this weekend—I dare you.
10. Jeffrey Campbell Mini Heel Thong, $50 at Revolve
Someone looked at flip-flops and thought adding a kitten heel and rendering them in clear jelly would make them better. And I’m honestly not convinced they were wrong.
11. BC Footwear for You Sandal, $45 at Urban Outfitters
A still-totally-extra way to do the jelly shoe thing without doing the all-over jelly shoe thing.
12. River Island Stud-Detail Jelly Sandals, $40 at ASOS
Because the only thing that could make jelly sandals more fun is iridescent studs.
13. Lunar Jelly Ballet Flats, $19 at ASOS
Probably the comfiest, sparkliest sandal on the market right now.
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