When “Nude” Just Doesn’t Match Up: Summer Sandals for Brown Skin Tones.

During my last closet clean-out, I ended up donating or recycling a bunch of my old flip flops and sandals. The lone survivors of the purge were a pair of bright red leather sandals. Unfortunately I can’t wear them with all my outfits, so a few weeks ago I started searching for a new, more versatile pair for the summer.

The three main criteria for my search:

  1. Not a completely flat sole, but preferably a comfortable walking heel no more than 2 inches high;
  2. A strap around the ankle for added security; and
  3. A neutral, brown color that matches my skin tone fairly well (to counteract the fact that the ankle strap would visually truncate my leg line).

Also: The most I was willing to spend for a pair of non-leather sandals was about $20; for a pair of leather sandals, about $60.

Criteria #1 and #2 were not hard to meet all. Honestly, the most challenging part of my search was fulfilling #3– all my queries for “nude”-colored sandals yielded pale blush tones that were definitely not a match for my tanned feet.

This predicament brings to mind vivid memories of being in kindergarten and crying because I couldn’t use any of the crayons in my box to draw my family. It wasn’t until a couple years later that my grandma bought me a whole box of multicultural crayons to fulfill all my family-drawing needs. Gosh, she was a great lady.

Anyways, the search for the right sandal took a bit longer than I thought (I ended up visiting a few shops in person to verify colors shown online), but ultimately the wait was worth it. Here are my two picks.

Old Navy Sueded Wedge Sandal in Tan: I picked these up in-store for about $22. The materials are 100% synthetic– the faux-wood wedge is about 2 inches high and the rubber sole has some small treads to prevent slipping. The brown straps and heel cover are made with a sueded fabric. There is a little bit of cushion in the footbed, but not a lot. These sandals only come in whole sizes; I took these in a size 6 and found them to be true to size. After some minimal walking in them over the weekend, I can attest to their comfort– the straps didn’t chafe my ankles or toes at all. However, since there are really only two straps holding the foot in place, I don’t recommend wearing these for walking long distances. Overall, this is a nice, simple design that can be dressed up or down.


Talbots Tehya Strappy Sandal in New Mink: Worn in this review post. I recently purchased these on sale for $55. The thin lizard-embossed straps are leather and the cork heels are 3/4″ high with rubber non-skid soles. The footbed is also made with cork. According to the website, this sandal has “breathable antibacterial lining” which must be a good thing, right? Whole and half sizes are available; I ended up taking these in a size 6.5. I had to break these in a bit (the right sandal straps seemed a bit tighter around the toe area than the left sandal), but I found these to be comfortable, i.e., my feet didn’t hurt or blister after walking around the city in them all day. Overall, I recommend these if you are looking for a delicate-looking sandal that looks as good with jeans as it does with dresses.



3 thoughts on “When “Nude” Just Doesn’t Match Up: Summer Sandals for Brown Skin Tones.

  1. Engineer L says:

    I love the idea of multicultural crayons! I didn’t have any growing up, but I wish I did. I feel like there’s a similar problem with makeup. There are a lot of shades for people with light skin but relatively few for everyone else.

    • fivesouth says:

      I absolutely agree, there is a similar problem with makeup! If you or anyone else has recommendations for makeup for Asian skin tones I would love to hear them. The closest I’ve come to a good match is Bobbi Brown BB cream, but it is quite heavy for the summer (and I tan really easily, so the color is already starting to look off).

      • Engineer L says:

        I’m kind of a makeup novice. I usually only wear concealer, and that’s about it. If you’re looking for a good undereye concealer, I really like the Lancome Effacernes. It doesn’t crease as much as other concealers I’ve tried, and Beige (Neutral) III is a good match for my skin tone. They only have a few other shades though. I’ve heard really good things about Korean skin makeup, but I haven’t tried any personally and I suspect that they might only have lighter Asian shades.

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