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The Difference Between $50 and $500 Sandals

Flat Leather Sandals for Women – How to find good quality summer sandals  

Today I’m talking about how to recognize good quality flat leather sandals for women.

I’ve never found it easy to find good quality sandals at a great price.

Often especially sandals are poorly made or have an unflattering shape.

Shoe shopping is never easy. If you get it wrong you’ll either end up with blisters or your shoes fall apart after one season.

And shopping for women’s sandals is especially tricky.

Given the little leather that’s being used to make sandals, women often believe a premium price is not justified. After all – why should they cost as much as a pair of boots?

So today I want to share my top 5 tips for buying good quality shoes this summer.

flat leather sandals

1 – Choose good materials, such as high quality leathers

Particularly if you want your sandals to be a perfect mix between ‘great looks’ and ‘comfort’ you need to pay attention to the materials. 


Good quality flat leather sandals for women are usually made of leather. Leather is breathable which means air can pass through to cool your feet and stop them from smelling. Another reason I prefer real leather is better fit as leather kind of molds to your feet after a little wear giving you more support and comfort than synthetic shoes.

Luxury brands mostly use nappa, calf or goat leather. Lower quality sandals are made with untreated cow or swine leather or even PU leather. Good quality leather has a beautiful feel. It is very durable and the quality usually improves with age. I still love the intoxicating smell every time I walk into our design studio with leather samples. The next time you’re in a shoe shop smell the sandals you want to buy.

PU (Plastic)

PU leather is a manmade synthetic material. And PU basically just imitates the look and feel of genuine leather, and costs a lot less. To tell the difference, you can check the sole of the shoe to see which materials are used.

Here is an example:

1 Upper leather is made of natural leather

2 Textile lining

3 PU sole

Icons On Soles Flat Leather Sandals For Women

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Vegan leathers

Of course there’s always a good argument when you are vegan and don’t want to use animal leathers.

In Italy leathers used for leather goods and footwear are generally a by-product of the food industry.

Mostly vegan leathers are actually made of polyurethane (PU). However there are some brands that work with a variety of different vegan leathers.

Unfortunately the two most commonly used – polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU) – are also two of the worst. (source: PVC is made with highly toxic ingredients neither of these products are environmentally sustainable.

With any choice of manmade or genuine leather we have to acknowledge that there is a downside to it. In my opinion it’s about weighing up what’s worse.

ROCCAPINA uses only high quality leathers sourced in Italy. Italian leather is mainly made of cow leather that is then treated with traditional methods to create a high quality product. With good care a good quality leather shoe will last for a very long time, if not forever. That’s a plus point for me. Therefore your womens leather sandals should always be treated before you use it with a leather protection spray to avoid getting water stains.

2 – Inner leather lining

Generally with shoes, poor quality shoe lining can lead to sweating and unpleasant smell. That’s especially the case if the shoe lining is made of synthetic material. (check the shoe sole for details on materials!) Synthetic materials are used by economical shoe brands for their shoe linings in order to keep costs low.

Even though womens leather sandals are not closed shoes it’s still worth taking a closer look at the lining.

With a good quality pair of flat leather sandals for women and you’ll see that the inner upper leather is lined with leather, rather than fabric or no lining at all. It makes the sandals more durable and creates a more elevated polished look. I consider this generally an indicator of high quality.

Good Vs Poor Quality Flat Leather Sandals For Women

3 – Good quality craftsmanship

When it comes to determining good quality vs poor quality in flat leather sandals for women it’s important to look at the craftsmanship.

A first indicator is already where your shoes are made. Italy, France and Portugal are first choice for many luxury brands. Certainly not far behind is Spain and you’ll find great footwear coming out of Germany, the UK and made in the US. If “Made in China” Luxury Goods are just as luxurious as the rest, I leave to others to decide.

You can easily see the difference if you compare the way a shoe is stitched. With high quality footwear you can see the stitching is much finer than that of cheaper sandals. The lines are fine and more accurate. With poor quality sandals you can sometimes see the lines being crocked or stitching even coming apart already. (Below photos show different stitchings and craftsmanship.)

Another indicator is high quality hardware, such as premium YKK zippers or embellishments like premium glass crystals vs cheaper plastic stones.

With a pair of flat thongs there are little details that make a big difference in comfort. A more cost-efficient approach shows the leather strap inserted into the sole flat and as is. However if you sew another piece of leather around the thong, it offers extra support and more comfort when walking. 


4 – Leather or rubber shoe soles

When shopping for new good quality flat leather sandals for women, take a good look at the construction and how the sole is attached. It can be either stitched or glued. Both is acceptable. Although with glued soles make sure you look at the finishing and that you can’t see any glue residue – that would be a sign of poor quality.

Different materials are used for soles. The best quality sandals general feature leather soles and high quality leather sandals often have a velvety feel to them. However with summer sandals, brands often consider using rubber soles. This is simply for practical reasons. They are not as slippery and offer more grip. They are also more practical at the beach on wet surfaces.

Sidenote: For some of the womens leather sandals I own I got a shoe repair store to add a rubber sole for these exact reasons.

5 – Comfortable footbed

If you only buy one pair of womens leather sandals you should think about what you need it for most. Do you need a stylish-looking pair of flat sandals for the city or do you need a good walking sandal that you can travel with?

Sandals that feature a padded insole and are made with memory foam footbed and a flexible sole will make you feel more comfortable.

If you’re shopping for a walking sandal go for extra cushioned footbeds, a low heel to reduce pressure on your forefoot and make sure your foot is well supported and adjustable straps offer perfect fit. A style that provides support to the arch is also ideal.

Final thoughts

Essentially with shoemaking it’s all in the details. A higher quality pair of shoes is made with nicer linings or finer embellishments. The use of high quality crystals (instead of plastic stones), rhinestones or embroidery can have a way of elevating a pair of sandals (and your whole outfit) if they are made of good quality materials.

I hope this is a helpful little list for you when you’re out shopping for a new pair of flat sandals this summer!

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PS. Shop our Elegant Flat Sandals here

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