Where to ﬁnd the art and sole of summer
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Sheer top, £10, skirt £15, belt £5, necklace £10, cut-out sandals £15, all by F&F at Tesco
Living in the UK, with its distinctly unpredictable summer weather, you need to be deliriously optimistic to buy even one pair of properly summery shoes, since there is every chance they may never be worn. Happily for the footwear industry, many of us take holidays in reliably warm, dry climates, thus necessitating the purchase of something flimsy and fabulous for sauntering along the seashore, while others of us are merely optimists/fashion victims (delete as appropriate) and thus wish to hoover up the most on-trend and desirable sandals on view from Brent Cross to Bowdon, regardless of practicality.
The über-fierce gladiator sandal is still around, often in flat versions and often in gold - a genius idea, since gold matchesg everything and thus reduces the necessity to take multiple pairs - a particular benefit with increasingly restrictive airline luggage allowances.
Some of the funkiest sandals are on the high street, notably at Barratts, the formerly rather naff chain which has been transformed by new owner Jonathan Ziff. Most styles are now in real leather, with on-trend styling, pricey-looking trims and excellent value. Their flat gold gladiator is not only totally a la mode, but versatile and terrific value at £45. Miss Selfridge also has a mini-wedge gladiator in dark gold, and French Connection has a very edgy gladiator in palest taupe suede, both of which are city- and beach-friendly. Other notably fab flats include Stella McCartney's raffia and rope sandal which alludes to a gladiator but is classic enough to outlast the trend.
The other big sandal trend is the ankle cuff, a gladiator/shoe-boot cross-over. Hobbs has a pretty, pair in pale yellow with rope trim, while Next has neat, ethnic pair with beads and tassels.
Ultra high heels are not, going away - at least not this season. Despite the pain, we crave them for summer evenings, cherishing the vain hope that our hotel will never be too far from dinner, and the resort will be a cobble-free zone. Christian Louboutin's delicious lilac/orange suede sandals would make a summer classic as would a pretty pastel-spot pair by Tabitha Simmons, (the only justification for paying an eye-watering £660 and £770, respectively), while for those who require versatility, Asos's cork platform sandal in bronze could be your sole holiday-evening shoes. ditto a nicely neutral taupe and gold pair by Linzi.
For those who want the extra height without the pain, the wedge is the perfect compromise. Three of the best are Pied a Terre's über-smart pair in brown leather, French Connection's ultra-desirable nude suede espadrille and Miu Miu's rope and leather mix.
And while we are being practical, clogs - which I began the season foreswearing - are beginning to make sense, especially with a maxi-dress or denim skirt. Rift have a brilliant collection, which are so authentically 1970s, I almost wonder if the firm found a cache left over from 1974.
Two footnotes to this summer's footwear story are the very cool Roullier White Bretagne slippers, in rattan trimmed with pretty nautical bows, which are perfect for pool, house or beach, and just £10 a pair (www.roullierwhite.com), and the suddenly iconic jelly shoe. Our favourites are the ankle-cuff jellies in hot shades at Barratts (£15) and a stunning ballerinas at Rift. At £50 they are not a cheap-as-chips impulse buy, but well made, comfy and, in gold, silver or black, they could be your, um, sole pair of daytime holiday shoes.