Trending summer footwear to invest in right now

Banu Ibrahim
May 7, 2018

Story highlights

  • It's finally the time of the year to invest in summer shoes
  • Top styles to shop this year include mules and lightweight sneakers

Summer is on the way at last. We've braved multiple nor'easters on the East Coast, record-breaking snowfall in the Midwest, and, for many, an unusually cold spring. But warmer weather is finally starting to kick in.

For a lot of people, that means throwing those sweaters back into storage and shopping for some new, lighter clothing for the season, definitely including summer footwear. This season, you'll want to invest in designs like moisture-wicking sneakers, breathable sandals and open-toed mules, which will keep your toes comfortable even when the temps hit the triple digits.

To get your search started, we've compiled a number of footwear trends for men and women that are stylish and comfy. Shop these seasonal picks before the heat waves kick in -- your feet will thank you.

Women

Mules

Mules are a solid option for the summer, as they don't fully enclose the foot, so your feet can breathe when the weather is hot, but they can also be closed-toe. They can be dressed up for the office, or down with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt for the weekend. And their block heels make them comfortable to walk around in all day long.

1. Nisolo Paloma Mule ($218; nisolo.com)

2. Steven Valent Mule ($69.30; zappos.com)

3. Dansko Maci Mule Sandal ($139.95; nordstrom.com)

4. Sam Edelman Ansley Embroidered Mule ($84; samedelman.com)

Sandals

Summer means sandals. They have the most open design, allowing for maximum breathability. They're perfect for beach trips or walking in the park. This season's offerings include bold pattern combinations and vibrant designs that can easily make sandals acceptable footwear for your 9-to-5 or any other time.

1. Dr. Scholl's Deco Sandal ($78; zappos.com)

2. Urban Outfitters UO Crossed Knotted Sandal ($29; urbanoutfitters.com)

3. Everlane The Bridge Sandal ($88; everlane.com)

4. Sorel Women's Ella Sandal ($80; sorel.com)

Wedges

Think of wedges as a cross between a mule and a sandal. Like sandals, they have more openness when it comes to the toe and heel areas. And like mules, they feature a block heel so you can walk around all day with maximum comfort. Since these pretty much equate to your summer heel, you can swap your more restrictive stilettos or pumps for a solid pair of wedges. It's a no-brainer for summer weddings, cocktail hours and more dressed-up affairs.

1. Sarto by Franco Sarto Niva Wedge Sandals ($128; anthropologie.com)

2. Topshop Williams Espadrille Wedges ($68; topshop.com)

3. Traci Espadrille Wedge Sandal ($109.95; nordstrom.com)

4. Lily Pulitzer Bridgette Wedge ($178; lilypulitzer.com)

Sneakers

You'll still need your sneakers for more comfortable everyday footwear and for your outdoor runs. The key during summer is to find pairs, both in the performance and casual categories, that are lightweight and moisture-wicking. These will help ensure your feet don't get overheated and sweaty while you're on the move outdoors.

1. Allbirds Women's Wool Runners ($95; allbirds.com)

2. Adidas Women's Swift Run (starting at $55.74; amazon.com)

3. Cole Haan 2.Zerogrand Stitchlite Wingtip Sneaker ($150; nordstrom.com)

4. Converse Jack Purcell Classic Low Top ($65; nike.com)

Men

Loafers

Loafers are the king of summer footwear for men. They can be dressed up for your business meetings and down for your everyday errands. You can pair them with a no-show sock for even more breathability. And a loafer's fail-safe design means you can wear it year after year. So if there's one pair you should have in your wardrobe this season, this is it.

1. Kenneth Cole Near D Mark Bit Detail Loafer ($59; kennethcole.com)

2. Mulo Suede Loafers ($225; mrporter.com)

3. Cole Haan Pinch Grand Tassel Loafer ($170; nordstrom.com)

4. La Milano Men's Leather Double Monk Strap Loafer (starting at $39.99; amazon.com)

Espadrilles

You can credit espadrilles' popularity to the fact that these shoes are really, really comfy. They're a bit more buttoned up than a flip-flop but definitely more dressed-down than a loafer, making them the perfect replacement for your summer sandal.

1. Soludos Waves Smoking Slipper ($65; zappos.com)

2. TOMS Blue Slub Chambray Men's Deconstructed Alpargatas ($49.99; toms.com)

3. Havaianas Orgine Yacht Cal Espadrille ($52; zappos.com)

4. Soludos Suede Slip-On Espadrille ($39.97; nordstromrack.com)

Boat shoes

Boat shoes are meant to be both stainproof and water-repellent. They feature rubber soles that have solid traction, making them perfect for moving around on the deck of a boat, and they're a popular footwear option for men in the summer, even if there's no yacht in the picture. This casual option is perfect with jeans or chinos for everyday wear.

1. 1901 Pacific Boat Shoe ($59.90; nordstrom.com)

2. Quoddy Downeast Two-Tone Suede Boat Shoes ($180; mrporter.com)

3. Sperry Gold Cup Authentic Original Boat Shoe ($160; nordstrom.com)

4. TOMS Culver Lace-Up ($37.95; zappos.com)

Sneakers

The key to summer sneakers is finding pairs that can stand up to the summer heat. When shopping in either the performance or casual category, look for features like moisture-wicking properties or lightweight designs.

1. New Balance 247 Decon Knit Sneaker ($89.95; nordstrom.com)

2. Nike Zoom Strike Running Shoe ($80; nike.com)

3. Supra Hammer Run Sneaker ($75; zappos.com)

4. YALOX Men's Lightweight Breathable Running Shoes (starting at $18.99; amazon.com)

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers' listed prices at the time of publication.