How to keep your feet cool & covered this summer

We tend to think of summer as “sandal season,” and may look forward to the feeling of fresh air and sun on our toes. But for those who either need or prefer a closed-toe alternative to sandals, here are a few suggestions for summer shoes (that won’t make your feet swelter).

Susan B wears Clergerie Birdie raffia oxfords. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This post was published at an earlier date and has since been updated. I’ve left prior comments in place.

Above: these raffia oxfords (similar on sale) are comfortable even on the warmest days.

Shoes with breathable uppers, open sides, and/or cutouts will be the most comfortable in the heat. I found a good selection this season, and had a hard time narrowing it down to just a few styles to feature! There are a bunch more in the widget at the bottom of the post, so be sure to have a look.

More closed-toe summer shoes

Madewell closed-toe fisherman sandals.

Fisherman sandals may or may not count as “closed-toe” in your world, but this style does provide good coverage. (Also available in black.)

Farm Rio raffia fisherman sandals.

This style in raffia is fun and very summer-y.

Seychelles woven leather d'orsay flats

These more huarache than fisherman, but still pretty cute! Two other color combos available.

Ilse Jacobsen tulip flats light blue.

Here’s a cute slip-on flat that’s very well-rated for comfort and comes in a bunch of colors. (I had a pair a couple of years ago and can co-sign on the comfort, am thinking about trying this sneaker style.)

Soludos canvas espadrilles with lemon print.

Espadrilles are a timeless summer shoe style. Lemon prints are on trend this season, and how cute are these? (I have a similar pair that I wear often in summer.)

Talbot's d'orsay espadrilles in red.

The eyelet on these d’Orsay espadrilles is a fun detail that provides a little extra ventilation.

Eileen Fisher perforated leather espadrille sandal.

If you prefer espadrilles with a leather upper, here’s one that still allows plenty of air circulation. (Also available in Chili and Black.)

Chocolat Blu gold perforated leather slip-on flat

I find metallic footwear to be incredibly versatile in a summer wardrobe. These perforated leather slip-ons would look great with pants or dresses/skirts.

Gentle Souls perforated leather ballet flats coral

If you’re a fan of ballet flats, these might pique your interest. They’re available in 4 colors, and are currently marked down.

Alfani open weave leather horsebit loafers.

Need something that can go to the office? These budget-friendly loafers have a swanky horsebit detail. (Also available in Black.)

Franco Sarto open weave leather classic loafers.

Here’s another office-appropriate loafer style, also available in gold metallic.

Talbot's raffia slingback flats, blue

Need something dressier? These raffia slingbacks might be just the thing.

Impo raffia kitten heel mules, natural

Here’s a pair of raffia kitten heels that could dress up or down. Also available in black and white.

L'Amour des Pieds Wavan mule in metallic snakeskin finish.

I purchased an earlier version of these funky mules a few years ago. Still have them, still love them, still wear them often. I find them quite comfortable and easy to walk in.

Karen Scott Carolton slingback rope sandals.

These slingbacks are VERY budget-friendly, and available in several colors, including navy.

More closed-toe shoes for summer

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  1. Love the closed toe…espec. when pedicures do not seem possible in the near future but wish more had removable insoles. I only saw one that said they had this and OF COURSE…HAHA… they had to be the AGL which are over my budget.

  2. Very timely. I’ve been thinking that when we do go back out that I am going to want something to cover my feet. It’s a dirty world out there.

  3. Do you wear the Clergerie platforms? It seems as if they would go with everything in the spring. Do people comment on them as they would certainly stand out!

    1. Hi Holly, yes, I wore them often last summer, and plan to again this year. They do go with everything, and I do receive lots of compliments on them. (They’re also comfortable as heck! 😉 )

    1. I don’t think of raffia as particularly trendy, more seasonal. But now I shop for my style personality rather than trends, and I know I’ll get years of wear from these shoes.

  4. Thank you for this post. Since I have to wear heavy medical stockings all the time, I also have to wear closed toe shoes. I struggle a bit to find summer styles that don’t weight down whatever I’m wearing. You have give me some great examples to peruse!

  5. I learned about my favorite closed-toe summer shoes (besides my multiple 8 Euro espadrilles/alpargatas from Madrid) on this very blog! Ilse Jacobsen, Tulip style. I knew my espadrilles wouldn’t work for our trip to Ireland last summer and the Tulips were a wonderful replacement. Extremely comfortable and I got all kinds of compliments last year while in Ireland – I packed them again when I headed over in March, knowing I was probably here for a while. The style I’m referring to is called “flats” on the website. I’ve seen them referred to as “Tulip” in the US. Huge THANK YOU to the original commenter last summer who pointed me in this direction!

    1. Hi Ann, thanks for the reminder! It doesn’t look like that website ships to the US, but I’ve found them at Zappos HERE

  6. If you are like me, ballet flats never went away. I agree with the other reader about this summer being a good time for closed-toe shoes. I’m also thinking about sitting on public benches and chairs. Do I want my bare legs to touch public surfaces? No. Other people’s sweat…Hemlines for dresses will be midi or longer for me. Bare arms? No. I’ll add a lightweight layer to my sleeveless tops. This is the summer of dressing modestly, for self-preservation. Style may change because of this, at least for a few years. And yes, I plan to Lysol my outdoor footwear after each use.

  7. I like the look of these “air conditioned shoes” but I am wondering about how they would feel on my foot…..are they rough on the inside? I sure do not want blisters from the surface inside being rough….just can’t tell by looking what I would feel sticking my foot inside…

    1. I’ve found my raffia pair quite comfortable, no blisters or rubbing. I think it depends on our individual feet, and the fit of the shoes. Many of the styles I’ve shown here have good reviews for comfort.

    2. I also have these Clergerie rafia brogues and love them. My feet are very fussy but no rubbing or blisters from day one.

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  8. Love the post…Of course, I’ve never met an oxford or a loafer I didn’t fall in love with.
    I adore the cork – I think that was my favorite. And personally, I’m not a sandal girl.
    Although I did read about wearing socks with certain sandals and flats, ala the 1940s.
    I like the look with the right outfit!.
    Great blog, thanks

  9. This Southern Hemisphere summer I had two pairs of open-weave oxfords with thick comfortable soles and one had cut-outs on the sides. They were soo comfortable that I hardly wore sandals. I wore them with everything and they looked just as good with dresses as pants or shorts.

  10. I can recommend the Ilse Jacobsen shoes. I’ve bought these in different colours the past 2 summers and worn them almost constantly. Plan to buy the above colour this year, and replacement navy ones. Incredibly comfortable. Much admired. I would suggest buying a size down – they do stretch a bit.

  11. I just ordered the oxfords you’re wearing in the big picture. They only had a couple sizes left, and I snagged the last pair in my size!!!

  12. 40% off of any AGL shoe is a must buy!!!!
    If I didn’t already have pink and red summer shoes, those pink ones would be going in my cart.

  13. My favorite shoes last summer were my Toni Pons espadrille wedges (closed toe). The criss-cross elastic straps give you good stability, and the lack of ankle strap visually lengthens the leg. Nordstrom has them, many on sale. Trying to choose which color/pattern to get for this summer!

    1. You say that like it’s a bad thing… 😉 Seriously though, I really wish we could get away from using “old lady” as a term of disparagement. There are far more accurate and descriptive words aren’t ageist.

  14. I meant to comment on this post. I would urge everyone to check out Allbirds for some fun colors in their Tree Birds! I have 3 pairs of the wool and one pair I just bought of the tree and will buy the gorgeous blue color that just came out. I don’t have any relationship with this company….I have fussy feet and these are great. Perfect “drop” for those who can’t wear flat sneakers.

  15. Ooh. Shoes. I love shoes. Even though I wear the unicorn size of 10.5, I can always find shoes to love! Right now, and thanks for mentioning, my favorite summer shoes are Eileen Fisher Lee espadrilles. They are true espadrilles, — with jute insoles and fabric or leather uppers — and feel so good on bare feet. I have an assortment from years past, but probably love the platinum color the best — although each year’s offerings seem to get better and better.

  16. I have such a hard time finding shoes in summer. Fortunately I just received low heeled (4 cm) slingback pumps with a pointy (covered) toe. On my flat feet with low instep I still prefer the look of high heels but I cannot do that anymore.