The Many Faces of Sandals - Sandal Types Defined

Published: 13th August 2008
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You will see a lot of confusing terms thrown around to describe sandals - here is a short glossary that will have you keeping your friends on their toes with your impressive knowledge of the world of sandals! In addition we will tell you where to wear these styles.


This sandal often has many straps on the sole to hold the foot to the upper sole, and one thick band that goes around the ankle. They are so named as gladiators wore this type of sandal when fighting. Perfect for the nightclub.

Sport Sandals

Any sandal specifically designed for hiking or other activities. Most of the more "comfortable" sandals fit in this category. You will frequently see them being worn by men and students in the summer - these more casual sandals are best kept to casual settings and out of the office or the dance floor.


So named for the sound that they make when the wearer walks, the flip-flop or zori sandal is loosely secured to the foot by means of a strap in between the toes. The flip-flop originated from the Japanese zori, which was formally worn with white socks - at least they weren't black! Flip-flops are best reserved for the beach or around the house only.

City Sandal

This popular term means a sandal that you would not take hiking - effectively the opposite of a sport sandal. They are made for getting around sidewalks without getting stuck and are usually quite dressy in their design. Work appropriate sandals.

Evening Sandals

An evening sandal is meant to look hot. Choose an evening sandal with a thicker heel if you plan to spend some time dancing - a thinner, more sophisticated heel is perfect for dinner and casual conversation with friends.

Special Occasion Sandals

This term usually applies to bridal sandals, but can refer to a dressier evening sandal as well. A very dressy occasion or a wedding call for these sandals.


A flat sandal with a flexible sole and fabric upper. Good for a more casual office or an outing with friends.


A sling-backed sandal with a small heel and an upper consisting of woven leather strips. Again a more casual sandal.


A heavy sandal with a thick sole. The popular clogs on the market today incorporate a cork heel. Depending on the dressiness of the upper, these sandals can be work, dinner, or even dance appropriate.


A T-Strap comes up between the toes and hooks onto an ankle strap to hold the foot firmly in place with minimal coverage of the foot. Perfect for days at the beach or those first few days of summer when you want to get some sun on your feet. A casual sandal meant for evenings and weekends out, not an office option.

Toe Loop

The toe loop or toe ring sandal will keep the little toe firmly in place; also a very popular style this season! Similar to the T-Strap, the casual nature of this sandal usually mean it is best confined to areas outside of the corporate cubicle.


A wedge sandal sports a wedge heel, a heel that incorporates a thick sole capped off with a small heel. This is more of a style for a dress sandal, and one that is quite fashionable due to the pleasing shape of the wedge. As per the clog, the wedge's suitability for a particular spot all depends on the dressiness of its upper. Wedges are frequently made into dressier sandals - there isn't that much that is casual about them!

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