It's finally the perfect time of year to let your feet breathe again. They've been cooped up in boots and galoshes all winter and are craving a bit of that spring sunshine. It's sandal-shopping time, and there are a ton of new fashions to try on for size -- for men, women and children.
In this economy, price is a big factor in selecting the right shoe for you. When it comes to cost, Target hits the bull's-eye. The simply designed women's Merona Leyla flip-flops retail at $2.78. In the mood for something a little more colorful? Check out the Merona Lissie paisley pattern ($4.54) or the Xhilaration Lana tie-dye flip-flops ($6.99). For men, the $9.99 Mossimo Supply Co. Layton tattoo print flip-flops are a popular selection.
Sometimes, merely cost-effective footwear won't cut it for kids. They tend to seek something that'll dazzle them. Among the most appealing sandals for the little ones are from Reef. Kelley Bruemmer, girls footwear category director, says her company's shoes are bringing smiles to the faces and footsies of children around the world.
"We have a great kids business. That one is where innovation is the most important," she says. "For this season, we had a style called A-Maze ($24), and it has a fully functioning maze at the bottom of the sandal. We have one called Little Glowie ($20), which has stars all over it that glow in the dark. Comfort is key there, as well."
Reef, based out of Carlsbad, Calif., aims to promote not only comfort and innovation but also philanthropy. All three are embodied in the women's Ugandal, as Bruemmer explains: "(It's) a collaboration that we did with an organization called 31 Bits. We use paper beads on the sandal. Those beads were handcrafted by displaced women in Uganda. They were bought at fair trade prices (and) help support that community, and they can send their children to school, get clean drinking water. It's a fantastic story, and the sandal is beautiful, too. The response has been great." The Ugandal retails for $58.
Looking for footwear that'll make you feel like a big kahuna? Head on over to SurfWearHawaii.com, which sells products straight from the Land of Aloha. Shelley Masui, wholesaler for the site, recommends Scott Hawaii sandals, especially for men. "On the men's side, there's a Scott 'slippah' called Makaha ($26)," she says. It has just a solid color and a solid strap, "but it's been known to last 25 years, maybe even longer." For women, Masui touts the Torch and Sanuk brands, which lean on the trendier side of sandal fashion. SurfWearHawaii.com offers free shipping for any purchases that cost more than $85.
Spring sandal mania has sprung, but that might mean sprains and other maladies, warn some medical professionals. Dr. John E. Mancuso of Manhattan Podiatry Associates said in a 2006 Forbes article that prolonged use of these shoes can lead to tendonitis or, worse, pronation. That's because sandal design tends to cause the feet to roll inward as they hit the ground, opening the arches and releasing the natural locking mechanism, which can cause severe pain.
Additionally, beach footwear can be a breeding ground for germs. A study conducted last year by the University of Miami found that on one pair of flip-flops worn in New York City, there are more than 18,000 bacteria. There's a time and place for everything, and urban areas just aren't it for this kind of shoe, said Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr. of NYU Langone Medical Center to NBC last year. He said to save them for seaside fun only.