by Christina Santos

In the wintertime, I am strictly a “these boots are made for walking” type of diva. But at the slightest hint of sunshine and warmth, I’m a bona fide Sandalista. Allowing my toes to break free from the confines of my closed toe clodhoppers, I slip into sandal flats all season long. Wear a pair of boring thongs? I wouldn’t dare. Here are my picks for this season’s sassiest sandals to sustain you through your sunny travels—without breaking the bank.

Birkenstock “Madrid”: Classic Reinvented.

I’ll admit–I used to think Birkenstocks were only for the hacky sack playing, granola eating and possessors of arch less feet type. To use the parlance of our times, hippies. Well call me a haute hippie then; I’ll be wearing my new Madrid sandals for seasons to come. Named after the very city I left my heart in, a walker’s city to boot, Madrid’s eponymous sandal tones the foot and calf muscles while improving circulation, making walking and sightseeing an enjoyable combination. I recently broke in a pair while attending this year’s Coachella Music Festival and the contoured footbed and shock absorbing EVA soles were exactly what my feet needed when I was standing (and dancing!) for 10+ hours a day. I was also pleasantly surprised to see many other fiercely fashionable divas wearing a wide range of Birkenstocks–clearly they’re all in on the same little known secret: Birkenstocks are a keeper.

Available in Birko-Flor™, a leather-like material, or Patent Birko-Flor™, a smooth high gloss finish in a wide range of hues. My favorite are the Birko-Flor™ in Golden Brown. Whole and half sizes available. Also note-worthy is the Gizeh.

Merrell “Milos”: Fashionably Functional.

The clever and fashionable design of these Grecian-inspired sandals conceal a hidden secret–they’re actually performance sandals! The rope wrapped footbed disguises the comfy, no-slip rubber sole (Artrek™ Sole Sticky Rubber in Merrell-speak) and the adjustable leather side straps connect to a toe thong and adjustable backstay, guaranteeing they will stay put for any action packed lifestyle. I highly recommend the Milos sandal to the trekking diva who doesn’t want to sacrifice style for usability. Their unique design will have heads turning for a second look and look like nothing else in your closet. Word to the wise–these sandals may feel a bit snug initially, but the more you wear, the more comfortable they become.

Brown or tan. Available in whole sizes only; size down if needed. Do your toes require more wiggle room? Be pretty in pink in the raspberry hued San Remo sandal.

Anthropologie “Point to Point”: Effortless Chic

It doesn’t get more classic or versatile than these elegant T-strap thongs. You can afford to splurge a little; they transcend any trend, any season. If you only have room for one pair of sandals in your suitcase, make it the Point to Point. Crafted of smooth vintage black leather and with an adjustable buckle, they go with almost anything.

Available in black. Whole and half sizes.

ModCloth “Andromeda”

Gladiator sandals are back this season. No just for the edgy type, they have hit the masses, hard. With every shoe company scrambling to design a mass-appeal pair and so many to choose from, the Andromeda gladiator sandals are a breath of fresh air in a sea of uninspired designs. Named after Andromeda, the Greek princess whose beauty earned her a place in the night sky, these beauties have earned their place in my wardrobe. Remember– this style of shoe is meant to be the point of attention in an outfit. Feel royal when you wear these sandals with an understated ensemble.

Black. Whole sizes only.

Seychelles “Passport Please”: Grecian Inspired.

The name alone will have you reaching your passport and begging for travel. From their Grecian styling to their vibrant Greek blue color, this fun-time seeking diva knows exactly where she wants to wear them. Featuring a functional toe ring and two wrap-around ankle straps, they’ll stay put as you dance the night away. Consider them “gladiator-lite” for your inner Greek Goddess. Pair the blue with a simple, feminine white frock for a look that is sure to “launch a thousand ships.”

Available in blue (my personal pick!) black and tan. Whole and half sizes.

ModCloth “Firework”: Retro Revival.

When I’m bored by the clothes in my closet or in need of some inspiration, one of my favorite things to do is look through my mother’s old photos from the 70’s. A former beauty queen in her native Mexico, my mother has never been afraid of bold colors and has a sense of style unrivaled by any other mother I know. The Firework sandal look exactly like the sassy number my mother was sporting while on a honeymoon holiday with my father in back in ’75. From their retro styling to the rainbow of faux-snakeskin stripes, these flats are the perfect accessory to brighten up any basic, solid color look.

Multi-colored. Whole and half sizes.

Ecote Hurache Sandal

When I was a young girl, we spent many a Summer at my aunt and uncle’s bucolic farm in Mexico. I may not remember much about the time I was kicked by a wayward burro or the seven stitches I received in my forehead, administered by a local woman in her kitchen, but I will always remember the shoes I wore. No longer just the preferred shoes of Mexican peasants of yore, huaraches are making a big splash this season. I like the Ecote Hurache (sic) Sandals by Urban Outfitters for their straightforward design–they remain the most true to what I used to wear as a girl. Plus they are easy to slip on and off, while being much more stylish than tiresome thongs. Now if only I still had my flouncy, off-the-shoulder Mexican dresses….

Available in gold, tan, orange and purple. Whole sizes only. They do fit on the small side–go a size up and the tightness around the toes will loosen up after a couple of wears.

NAOT “Ashley”: Orthotic Friendly.

These imported Israeli designer sandals are super comfy and styling. First spotted on a friend at a cafe in Santa Fe – I just had to have them. Great with jeans and easy to dress up for semi-casual evenings with just a hint of sparkle. Color is a worn metal stone with a rhinestone studded strap over your instep. You can move it up or down to fit. Looks great when your legs and feet are deeply tanned.

European whole sizes only; for 1/2 sizes, order next size up.

Jimmy Choo “Dakota Elaphe snake sandal”: A Diva can dream, right?

“She’s got Jimmy Choo’s, ooo’s, ooo’s. She needs Jimmy Choo’s, ooo’s, ooo’s.” A pop culture mainstay, Jimmy Choo has been referenced by everyone from fashion icon Carrie Bradshaw to indie pop duo Chester French. In honor of the Choo-centric book I am currently reading, this pair wins the award for being my most covetous sandal. Featuring exotic skin and bright yellow detailing, these sandals are also one of Tamara Mellon’s, co-founder of Jimmy Choo Ltd, personal picks this season.

Yellow and exotic skins. European whole and half sizes.

But wait divas–don’t cause a sandal scandal! Before your toes make their debut this season, make sure they are sandal ready with AB happy feet, a waterless pedicure. Waterless pedicures, which utilize glycolic acid to slough off dead skin on the thick layers of the feet, soothe your soles while also saving you money and H2O. In other words–cost effective pedicures mean more money for travel… and more sandals!

To browse the entire AB skincare line, visit the website at: