Anyone else feeling the sneaker fatigue lately? Faced with the daunting prospect of securing the latest drop each week, even the staunchest sneakerheads are getting a little burnt out. So if you’re ready to hop off the unhinged merry-go-round that is sneaker culture in 2022, we’ve got great news: there’s more choices than ever when it comes to summer-ready, decidedly non-sneaker footwear. As it happens, the same things that make sneakers so covetable—limited colorways, eye-grabbing designs—also animate their slightly more formal counterparts. Which means this summer, you can easily ride out the season without taking a single L on the SNKRS app—or wearing sneakers at all. (Unless you’re headed to the gym. We’re not lunatics.)
To help you build out a starting lineup of capital-S summer shoes, we spotlighted the styles in your rotation that probably deserves some well-earned time on the bench, along with a few non-sneaker options to sub in their place.
White Sneakers → Penny Loafers
Few shoes are as endlessly versatile as white sneakers, which might be why the style continues to spawn countless iterations, each claiming to be better than the last. But that also means every person on the planet has a pair, so helping you stand out isn’t really their forte. Luckily, penny loafers are just as timeless, but instead of conjuring images of the anodyne, white-walled interior of a millennial-heavy marketing firm, they bring to mind 1950s sock-hops, 1960s Ivy League campuses, and 1980s Wall Street power lunches —in other words, some of the most stylish (if not exactly welcoming) settings of all time.
You can wear your new loafers with everything you would your crispy white kicks (faded jeans are a great place to start) with the extra perk of being able to sport them with a suit. And yes, shorts with loafers are definitely a move (one we highly endorse, in fact).
Slip-On Sneakers → Mules
If you’re feeling discouraged by the relentless, unforgiving churn of the Sneaker Industrial Complex, rejoice: mules are just as casual as your favorite slip-on kicks, and an easier way to get your feet into—in every sense. If you simply can’t resist the urge to flex, there’s tons of-the-moment options out there, including ones from the folks who know the limited-edition garment game better than anyone. (We’re looking at you, Prada.)
Mules look killer with short-length shorts, but their laid-back vibe also clashes nicely with hard-wearing gear like cargo and double-knee pants. Pair with a tote bag and a retrofitted Yankees hat to guarantee yourself primo placement on Instagram mood boards all summer long.
Retro Sneakers → Huaraches
Retro-inspired sneakers come pre-loaded with style history—whether you remember them from the hardwood champions of the ’80s or favorite action movie from the ’90s. But they’ve got nothing on the rich history of authentic huaraches. The Mexican sandal has been a favorite of farmworkers native to the region since long before Columbus sailed (read: brutally colonized) the ocean blue, and their breezy open-weave uppers are designed for all-day comfort.
Huaraches come in a ton of shapes and sizes, but as an introduction to the silhouette, we dig the loafer-y versions most. The right pair will sync up seamlessly with a pair of relaxed khakis, and Pull double-duty as a comfy dress shoe alternative with your beach-wedding-iest tux. The only thing you need to worry about? Upstaging the bride and groom. (But if they don’t bring it, is it really your problem?)
There’s a lot of shoddy imitations out there, so best to go straight to the source: plenty of options are still made in or near Mexico, and often cost less than 100 bucks.