Get the handle on mandals and sandals

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 June, 2010, 12:00am

These days dressing up isn't so much about wearing what you like, than it is about pleasing others. This is especially true for the fashion flock, who next week will attempt to get photographed by style bloggers as they take to the streets of Milan for men's fashion week. As it's the start of summer in Europe, expect the men to be baring flesh in too-thin T-shirts, mid-thigh length shorts and of course, sandals in all shapes and colours.

A pair of Givenchy men's gladiator sandals in black patent leather and adorned with gold studs is sure to rouse varied feelings among the fashion pack. On a design level, they are outstanding but it takes a certain kind of guy to transport them from the sales floor to everyday wear. Maybe one who is not afraid of societal labels or aspires to the androgynous, I'm-a-man-wearing-women's-trends look. For those who aren't so brave, the same style comes without the studs for a more manly look.

The same look-at-me quality applies to a pair of mandals (as men's sandals are affectionately called) from the late Alexander McQueen (6). The sole comes in a camel shade with blue skulls stamped all over it. The tops of the feet are covered in lattice-like leather from both sides and are joined by laces. I imagine this being the appropriate footwear if they were to make a gay grown-up version of The Lord of the Flies because of their tribal feel.

Other examples of mandals worth mentioning for men who are daring are those from Juun J and Undercover, both sold at Joyce. The pair from South Korean designer Juun J look like high-top trainers, only the front part is cut off to expose, one hopes, pedicured toes. Undercover's are strappy in neon orange with a rubber sole which remind of a similar design from Jil Sander a couple of seasons back.

Will I be lining up at the stores to purchase any of these mandals? Not quite. They are for a guy with enough confidence and conviction - and perhaps a flair for the flamboyant. There will be many who can pull them off; unfortunately, I am not one of them.

I am of the less-is-more school of fashion. I like simple, lasting designs, that are season-less and that I can wear this summer and the many summers thereafter. Because of this, I am drawn to the leather T-strap sandals with a sling back from Gucci (4). The design is fuss-free which makes them easy to pair with just about everything - shorts or long pants, a T-shirt or dress shirt. As I have never been a fan of the suit and sandal combination despite it appearing every spring/summer season, I advise you strongly against wearing these sandals, or any sandals for that matter, with your summer suit.

At Ralph Lauren (3), there is a gorgeous pair of sandals with web-like weaving on the big toe. And Hermes (2) has a pair of espadrilles with a rope sole and calfskin body. Both the Ralph Lauren and Hermes sandals straddle the fine line between modern design and traditional notions of masculinity.

Yves Saint Laurent (1) also has a fancy and dressed-up version of the flip-flop. They are made from black calf leather and the strap is in rubber with leather piping. Consider them the grown-up siblings of your rubber Havaianas, but unlike your Havaianas, they won't look out of place when worn in places other than the beach.

But if you must insist on a pair of sandals that echo the same sporty and casual look of your Havaianas go to Puma (5) and get a pair of its Urban Mobility rubber and leather flip-flops. Just don't expect the bloggers to be running after you asking if they can take your photograph.

Shopping list:

Alexander McQueen and Givenchy from Lane Crawford, IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 3388

Gucci, The Landmark, Central, tel: 2524 4492

Hermes, The Galleria, Central, tel: 2525 5900

Juun J and Undercover from Joyce, New World Tower, Central, tel: 2523 5944

Puma from Harvey Nichols, The Landmark, Central, tel: 3695 3388

Ralph Lauren, The Landmark, Central, tel: 2869 0388

Yves Saint Laurent, Alexandra House, Central, tel: 2868 0092