From toddlers through to six-year-olds, our little helpers tried the best girls’ sandals for summer, available at Clarks, Kidly, Marks & Spencer and more
As the weather heats up and we begin to shed the layers, parents will be all too aware that their offspring’s sandals from last year are now getting a little tight. Replenishing the summer wardrobe is essential, so we’ve scoped out the best sandals for girls.
There’s no denying that girls’ sandals have always prevailed over the somewhat lacking choice for boys. With no shortage of designs from traditional leather buckle-ups to modernised unisex jellies, there’s something to suit everyone.
Whether you’re looking for a pair for a summer wedding, a beach companion, or simply something to hotfoot from pool to lounger we’ve found a selection to fit the bill.
As with any type of footwear, we know that comfort is key, but more so than ever with children’s – the last thing they want on a family holiday or special occasion is nasty rubbing or blisters. And that shouldn’t have to mean compromising on style.
It’s always important to measure your children’s feet when buying any new pair of footwear and to look at both the European and UK sizes because they can vary a little depending on the brand. Sandals should feel snug but not pinch, and they shouldn’t slip at the heel when walking. Many brands do handy half sizes for the best fit.
How we tested
With the help of a 15-month-old, four-year-old and six-year-old, we tried out a variety of sandals in different scenarios (beach, poolside, garden etc). We didn’t ask our testers to perform any tricks, just to go about their usual daily business – though skipping, jumping, running and play in general all featured heavily.
We looked at comfort, durability and how easy they were to take on and off again. We also considered the quality of materials versus the price tag, how breathable the sandals were, and whether they’d last the six weeks of summer. We kept an eye out for useful features, such as fast-drying materials and easy-access Velcro fastenings.
The best girls’ sandals for 2022 are:
- Best overall – Bobux tropicana II: £46, Bobux.co.uk
- Best value for money – Kidly Label jelly sandal: £6, Kidly.co.uk
- Best for toddlers – Igor starbrillo crystal sandals, agua/aguamarina: £21.95, Naturalbabyshower.co.uk
- Best retro design – Young Soles flo Velcro tassel sandal mink leather: £60, Youngsoles.com
- Best for adventurous kids – Clarks surfing tide kid pink combi: £28, Clarks.co.uk
- Best lightweight sandals – Liewood monty sandals, dark rose: £34, Liewood.com
- Best for comfort – Start-Rite coastal white leather T-Bar rip-tape sandals: £38, Startriteshoes.com
- Best fun design – Liewood blumer sandals, panda/sandy mix: £23, Liewood.com
- Best gender-neutral design – M&S collection kids’ freshfeet rip-tape sandals: £14, Marksandspencer.com
- Best for wide feet – Jojo Maman Bébé kids’ summer sandals: £14, Jojomamanbebe.co.uk
- Best smart sandal – Joules tessie multi-strap Velcro sandals: £19.95, Joules.com
Bobux tropicana II
Never mind feet, place a pair of Bobux in your hand and the soft leather and supple nature are instantly recognisable. And it’s precisely this that makes these an incredibly comfy pair of summer kicks. They’re crafted from premium full-grain leather and have reduced water absorption properties, so they’re fast-drying and perfect for a day by the pool.
The closed-toe keeps little feet secure, while the rip-tape fastening was a doddle for our six-year-old tester to sort independently. The metallic finish – we opted for seashell shimmer – looks stylish and elegant paired with the strappy design, and is the reason our tester calls them her princess sandals. The best bit is that they’re designed specifically for active kids without compromising on style. The high-grip pattern soles ensure lively play is the order of the day, while the flexible, durable, breathable materials keep sweaty, slippy feet at bay.
Kidly Label jelly sandal
Best: Value for money
Childhood isn’t complete without beach days and a trusty pair of jellies, and these are some of the coolest we’ve seen. While the concept of the humble jelly shoe is the same, it’s safe to say the comfort and design have come a long way.
The removable cushioned insole not only supports tiny feet but also dries quickly, while the imitation buckle, which has secretive Velcro hiding underneath, meant our four-year-old could take them off or put them on in seconds. The closed-toe offers protection and security, the rubber material is surprisingly soft and practically speaking, they’ll wipe clean. There are nine sun-bleached brights to choose from, so there’s something for everyone.
Igor starbrillo crystal sandals, agua/aguamarina
Best: For toddlers
Spanish brand Igor is certainly one to have on your radar. The brand has been crafting fancy footwear for kids since 1974, and we think its Igor starbrillo crystal sandals are summer in a shoe. While they’re heavier than other jelly styles we tested, our 15-month tester loved clocking up the steps in these. The tough, robust construction gives us high hopes that these will have multiple owners. There’s a handy removable insole, which is plush underfoot, and we found that as these are a little wider, putting these on our youngest tester wasn’t a battle, with the added bonus of a Velcro fastening. Born to be in wet environments, these are great for paddles in the sea or splashing in the pool.
Young Soles flo Velcro tassel sandal mink leather
Best: Retro design
Blending retro-cool with classic British heritage styles, Young Soles has been crafting luxury children’s footwear since 2014. With all footwear designed in east London, the flo Velcro tassel sandal is effortlessly cool, but as you’d expect with the premium price tag, the quality is irrefutable. The leather is super supple for ultimate comfort, which our four-year-old tester confirmed when she refused to take them off. She was able to put them on without assistance, thanks to the Velcro fastenings on both the central and ankle strap, which also makes them a great choice for wriggly toddlers (they’re available from a UK size four).
The beautiful detailing makes these a stand-out pair of sandals with adorable Brogue-style holes around the back and chic tassels at the front. We also found the natural rubber sole hardwearing and up for the challenges of daily wear by an active pre-schooler.
Clarks surfing tide kid pink combi
Best: For adventurous kids
Clarks isn’t merely a brand that fulfils our children’s back-to-school needs, and we were impressed by its expansive range of summer shoes. It has been crafting fine footwear for just shy of 200 years, so it’s safe to say you’re in good hands or, erm, feet. As the title suggests, these are the ultimate beach buddy. Made using a water-friendly neoprene, these sandals have a good level of flex, but we also found them to have excellent grip for our six-year-old’s rockpool expeditions. The double rip-tape made for quick turnarounds, and we were delighted to learn that they’re machine washable. They come in four colours and half sizes, so finding the perfect pair is a doddle.
Liewood monty sandals, dark rose
Best: Lightweight sandals
Scandi brand Liewood keeps our kids’ bedrooms, playrooms and wardrobes looking effortlessly cool while reducing our eco footprint. The brand is well versed in stylish summer essentials, and the Monty sandals are a fine example. While they’re wonderfully lightweight, the foam is high quality, so they’re ready for action. Our six-year-old tester loved the sporty style, and she was able to navigate the Velcro fastenings independently. The nylon material is soft with adequate stretch for a comfortable fit while being put through its paces by our active tester. And the weightlessness means carrying them across the beach it isn’t such a hardship – we only wish they did them in adult sizes.
Start-Rite coastal white leather T-Bar rip-tape sandals
Best: For comfort
We found these sandals reminiscent of special childhood occasions with their open fisherman-style design and classic white straps. It’s no surprise there’s a traditional outlook because Start-Rite is a British heritage brand known for its timeless designs.
Striking a balance between enough support for growing feet and sufficient flexibility to go about a kids’ daily business, the Coastal sandals fuse elegance with comfort. The padded collars and plush insole ensured there was no rubbing or wearing in required for our four-year-old tester, and we found that the leather lining and strappy design kept active feet cool and dry. The rip-tape fastening was a little more restrictive than others, which meant assistance was needed, but that’s a small price to pay for the adorable outcome.
Liewood blumer sandals, panda/sandy mix
Best: Fun design
Liewood yet again nails pretty and practical with its Blumer sandals, which come in various unisex prints. We loved the monochrome panda print, which looked oh-so-stylish on our four-year-old tester, and matched the sweet panda shape they imprinted in the sand.
There’s a good level of flex to these, which meant they performed well with our preschooler’s high energy, and there were no complaints on the comfort front either, thanks to the lightweight nature and soft EVA foam straps. While the Velcro fastenings allowed our mini tester to close them herself, they stick so well that adult help was needed for the undoing. Sea splashing and rockpool jumping weren’t to be feared as we found these dried at speed.
M&S collection kids’ freshfeet rip-tape sandals
Best: Gender-neutral design
Our 15-month-old tester looked gorgeous in these unisex sandals from trusty Marks and Sparks. The laidback look is similar to the popular Birkenstock style and they’re wonderfully lightweight, which is useful for a tester who is still finding their feet. The lining is soft on precious skin and feels leather-like, while the soles are plastic with a decent level of grip. Parents to young wriggly ones will appreciate the double rip-tape fastenings at the toes and ankles, and they even boast antibacterial Freshfeet technology for keeping feet fresher for longer. We did find the sizing comes up big, so it’s worth bearing that in mind when ordering.
Jojo Maman Bébé kids’ summer sandals
Best: For wide feet
If you’ve a summer family holiday on the horizon and you’re looking for a purse-friendly pair of sandals, these brightly-coloured Jojo Maman Bébé kicks are just the ticket. They’re incredibly lightweight, and the Velcro fastening makes for speedy donning, which our four-year-old managed with ease. It also helps that these are on the wide side, so there’s no squeezing. Sizing is a little unusual on these (we ordered an 8, which is a 26 EU size), so it’s worth measuring beforehand. The ankle strap is akin to a wetsuit neoprene that is soft on the skin, and we found them more than adequate for casual wear on the beach. However, they’re unlikely to withstand excessive use, racking up the steps with our infant, but we were more than content given the price tag.
Joules tessie multi-strap Velcro sandals
Best: Smart sandal
It’s time to shine with these multi-metallic Tessie sandals from Joules. We have to admit we were a little uneasy at the thought of a cork footbed for our six-year-old tester, but we needn’t have been. The footbed is fully moulded memory foam, which our tester found comfy. The sandals feature a rip-tape Velcro fastening, making them a doddle to put on independently. We did find our mini tester’s feet became a little clammy on a hot day, and the bottom could slip on certain flooring or by the pool (much to our tester’s glee). Overall, our mini tester seemed more than happy to spend time dancing, running and jumping in these, all the while looking super stylish.
The verdict: Girls’ sandals
We’re big fans of the New Zealand-born kids’ shoe company Bobux, and its Tropicana II sandals are a great example of how they design footwear with active kids in mind. Comfortable, breathable and super durable, we also love how these look. If you’re on a tighter budget, we highly recommend Kidly Label’s jelly sandal.
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