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Maybe it’s because I’m a Los Angeleno, but I deliberately avoid closed shoes as much as possible. And when it comes to sandals, I always prefer a practical slide. Why should I bend over to buckle my shoe, when the best alternative would be…well, not do that?
This is especially true when I travel. I like being able to easily take my shoes off as soon as I buckle into my seat on the plane and then need to be able to easily put them back on for bathroom and landing (when my bags and kids keep my hands full). So I was incredibly thrilled when I found a pair that is just as ideal for transit days as it is for almost any use in a warm weather destination.
The Naot Santa Barbara sandal is my travel essential because it’s stylish, comfortable and versatile. This shoe really does it all – it works for city tours, hitting the beach or the pool, and can even easily transition into the night. If I’m really dressing up, I’ll also toss an espadrille wedge heel in my luggage – but my Santa Barbaras alone do the trick in most warm weather scenarios (especially the kind where even fine dining is laid on the sand) .
I got my first pair in white about a year ago and have worn them everywhere. Months later, I added rose gold to my personal inventory. Both are neutral hues that go with just about everything in my luggage for a warm-weather vacation; rose gold adds a bit of elegance to shh things in place. I can wear them for hours and hours on my feet and never feel tired.
From a foot health perspective, an ideal summer sandal is a sandal with a contoured footbed in which the heel sits well on the sole of the shoe and the shoe provides arch support, Elizabeth Daughtry, DPM, a certified podiatrist in North Carolina, tells Travel + Leisure. Not only should support and cushioning be considered, but microfiber-lined insoles can also “help wick away sweat,” she adds. Sandals made of plastic or synthetic materials, such as hard canvas or synthetic leather, can cause feet to sweat excessively, making this type of shoe a no-no for foot health in the summer.
In terms of fit, “the sandal should fit your feet well and have a wide enough toe bed so that the toes don’t get cramped or hang off the edge of the sole of the sandal” , emphasizes Dr Daughtry. Plus, the adjustable straps and buckles provide stability and control of foot movement,” she notes. slipping while walking and formation of blisters.”
Naot Santa Barbara is an ideal choice for all these reasons, says Dr. Daughtry. It has two buckle closures for maximum fit, plus “the suede insole is cushioned but supportive and will allow excess sweat to be wicked away from the skin to prevent chafing and slipping”, and the EVA sole supports with an anatomical cork and latex footbed that “allows arch support and molding to the individual’s foot structure”.
If you think these sandals share a resemblance to an internet famous pair, know that they are not just counterfeit Birkenstocks. On the contrary, Naot is a well-differentiated brand and has its own well-established history. It dates back to 1942, when members of a small collective farming community in Israel began making shoes in a one-room workshop in a kibbutz.
Today, 80 years later, Kibbutz Naot Mordechai still produces the widely distributed Israeli product, handcrafted by various artisans and produced ethically using sustainable methods. (If your total awareness of kibbutz life thus far has come from WeWork’s barefoot ego-maniac Adam Neumann, as portrayed on WeCrashed, allow these wear-everywhere shoes to broaden your horizons.)
Beyond all the podiatrist-approved qualities, the Naot Santa Barbara sandals are simply practical, lightweight and completely compressible – flat with flexible uppers that can be compressed into a suitcase without altering their shape. For all these reasons, these are my go-tos when I travel – and should rightfully become yours too.
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