The 16 Best Spring Shoes, According to the Fashion Crowd

Dainty ballet flats, designer boat shoes, and minimalist sandals are just some of the favorites.

street style, adidas sambas
(Image credit: Alamy)

Cute snow boots styled with fuzzy socks have endearing qualities, but the best spring shoe styles offer an inherent sense of freedom you can't match with winter footwear. If Katie Holmes' wedge sandal is any indication, it's time to expand your shoe collection for the warm-up.

While open-toe espadrilles are a quintessential style for al fresco season, several other standouts sway both trendy and traditional. "Spring is the perfect time to slip into a pair of ballet flats," says Lexie Chan, regional director of operations at VIVAIA, a sustainable direct-to-consumer brand that's won over the hearts of celebrities like Julia Roberts. There are so many variations, and they can be worn with just about anything. Ballet flat's equally sweet-natured cousin, the Mary Jane flat, has also seen a resurgence in the past year (with much thanks to brands like The Row and Miu Miu) and will be particularly relevant this spring.

While the classics will always win in the long game, a few newcomers will likely prove their longevity. Multicolored sneakers, fresh takes on mesh flats, and 90s-era fisherman sandals with new twists, like platforms and textured material, have steadily blossomed on the footwear scene.

Minimalists who shy away from pops of color and unconventional designs also have nothing to worry about. Tried-and-true styles like white sneakers, neutral-toned mules, and sleek slingbacks aren’t going anywhere. You can stick with what you know best or branch out and try something new.

Ahead, you’ll find the best sixteen spring shoe styles backed by Chan, a shoe-obsessed fashion writer and a New York-based Accessories Director who has seen practically every spring shoe in the market.

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Key Features of the Best Spring Shoes

  • Quality

While shopping for a pair of spring shoes, remember that quality is absolutely key—specifically, quality stitching. "The biggest thing I look for when shopping for shoes is quality stitching," says Graves. "If the shoe is glued instead of stitched, steer clear—it will fall apart after a few wears," she warns.

The ultimate goal is to have these shoes for the long run to build a sturdy collection that will last season after season. That said, investing in brands with a track record of excellent craftsmanship is best. You'll find that all of the brands listed above—from luxury fashion houses like Gucci to contemporary labels such as Sam Edelman—are renowned for designing their shoes with durable materials.

  • Shoe Type

Since we’ve officially entered the spring season, it’s time to bid a temporary farewell to your heavy snow boots. They’ve gotten you through frigid winter weather, but they’ll only cause you to overheat during the warmer months. Instead, opt for shoes that are more breathable—like sandals with a barely-there silhouette, sneakers made from airy fabric, or mesh ballet flats.

  • Comfort

Above all, comfort should be prioritized. "In the spring, you're likely spending more time outdoors on different terrain," says Frank. "Whether you're having a cocktail on the beach or attending a garden party wedding, you need durable and comfortable shoes."

You’ll want to ensure that your shoes also offer ample arch support, cushioning, and stability. The worst feeling is walking around in shoes that cause aches and pains, and that sense of discomfort can linger in extreme cases. But do not worry—Marie Claire's list of spring shoes was curated with comfort top of mind.

How to Style the Best Spring Shoes

The general category of spring shoes is quite expansive, which means there are a variety of styling options. Narrow it down by considering the occasion you're shopping for—casual, formal, or somewhere in between. We have a spring shoe style for all of them, and some can fit into multiple categories. Sneakers, fisherman sandals, and minimalist flats are great for casual outings, while ballet flats and Mary Janes, kitten heels, and pumps great finishing touches on occasionwear.

street style, white T-shirt, leather jacket, jeans, Adidas Samba

If you're leaning into a relaxed vibe, style your Adidas Samba sneakers with a T-shirt, a leather jacket, and jeans.

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Adidas Samba sneakers are inherently versatile, so there are plenty of styling options out there. That said, you can never go wrong with a classic white T-shirt and jeans combo. Finish off your look with an edgy leather jacket, cat-eye shades, and a bold belt.

street style, T-shirt, bermuda shorts, cardigan, blazer, ballet flats

Ballet flats are must-haves for your spring work wardrobe.

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Build your spring work outfit around a pair of comfortable ballet flats by wearing a basic T-shirt, Bermuda shorts, and a structured blazer. Layer a sweater over your shoulders in anticipation of chilly office air conditioners or just for fashion's sake—it's a fun styling element.

street style, dress, kitten heels

Peep-toe kitten heels pair nicely with a fitted LBD.

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Are you heading to an event that calls for formalwear? Style a pair of peep-toe kitten heels with a fitted LBD. You can opt for a monochromatic look by wearing black heels or adding a bit of pop with a contrasting white shoe.

Meet The Expert

Lexie Chan
Lexie Chan

Lexie Chan is the regional director of operations at VIVAIA, where she has worked for the past several years. VIVAIA offers high-end footwear that blends sustainability with luxury.

Jess Graves
Jess Graves

Jess Graves is a writer of a self-published newsletter called The Love List, which explores the topics of culture and shopping. She is also the founder of Graves Creative, an agency that defines brand language and identity via advertising production, creative consulting, and graphic design.

Graves' work has appeared in Vogue, Town & Country, Complex, Vanity Fair, Atlanta Magazine, and Southern Living.

Marissa Galante Frank
Marissa Galante Frank

Marissa Galante Frank is the fashion director for accessories and beauty at Bloomingdale's, overseeing handbags, shoes, fine jewelry, watches, fashion accessories and beauty. In her role, Marissa drives the Bloomingdale’s vision for the trends shoppers can expect each season in-store and online. She collaborates across departments to develop exclusive merchandise for Bloomingdale’s private brands, and translate trends into a one-of-kind accessories and beauty assortment, spanning emerging and established brands.

Lauren Tappan
Fashion Editor

Lauren is the Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, where she writes trend reports, shopping pieces, and celebrity news stories. Prior to Marie Claire, Lauren worked for Harper’s Bazaar and ELLE as a freelance editor with a specific focus on seasonal styles and coveted products. She also worked for Town & Country, where she developed a robust portfolio of fashion roundups and designer profiles.

Lauren graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in journalism. While attending Penn, Lauren contributed to the university's fashion magazine, The Walk, while also interning for Philadelphia Style Magazine and EveryStylishGirl.

When she’s not exploring the world of fashion, you can find Lauren sharpening her skills as DJ, discovering new restaurants in New York City (she’s a foodie), and spending quality time with friends and family. Follow her along at @laurenktappan.