What Shoes Should I Wear? The Best Pairs For Every Outdoor Spring Activity

The arrival of spring and everything that it entails — longer days, rising temps, melting snow — inevitably invites the sartorial conundrum we face every year: What do I wear?

Mastering the winter-to-spring wardrobe transition usually, obviously means the swapping of thick sweaters for lightweight cardigans, wool dresses for sundresses, puffers for trench coats and denim jackets. But there’s a key element to any outfit that requires a little more thought: shoes. Warm-weather footwear tends to be synonymous with sandals, but those won’t always be the most practical option for every situation you’ll find ourselves outside (and based on personal experience, we strongly recommend against kitten heel mules for a day at the farmers’ market).

That’s why we partnered with SHOE DEPT. to narrow down the best shoes to wear for some of spring’s most popular outdoor activities, like attending a whimsical outdoor wedding or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, getting our hands dirty in our own backyard gardens. Your complete guide to spring footwear, ahead.The Activity: Garden Party Nuptials
The Shoe: A Strappy Platform Sandal

Wedding season is here, which means an endless string of outdoor weddings, receptions, showers, and other nuptial-adjacent activities. Deciding what to wear for each daunting is enough as it is, but figuring out what to wear on your feet is half the battle. Simplify things by having one reliable, versatile pair that can work for a range of dress codes and venues, whether it’s a casual backyard garden soirée or a black-tie affair at a literal castle. A platform sandal (one with an on-trend flared heel, at that) is a no-fail option, and when they come in an almost-neutral shade of blush pink, you have a shoe that’ll match practically anything (and perfectly on theme with outdoor, bloom-heavy locales).

I.D. Required Quinn, $, available at SHOE DEPTThe Activity: Breezy Morning Jogs
The Shoe: A Practical Running Shoe

Thanks to spring’s typically mild temperament (read: neither too cold nor too hot), it’s the perfect time to swap the treadmill for an outdoor running routine — and what better way to kick off the day with a dopamine boost than a morning jog around the neighborhood? Throw on an activewear set that makes you feel your best, like cute leggings and a light sweatshirt or windbreaker, and couple it with a pair of pastel-hued running sneakers that are not only practical, but match your blooming surroundings.

New Balance WARISEP4, $, available at SHOE DEPTThe Activity: Beachside Line-Dancing Lessons
The Shoe: A Heeled Cowboy Boot

Move over, coastal grandma — there’s a new buzzy TikTok aesthetic in town. Meet #coastalcowgirl, the latest trend to gain traction that, as the name implies, blends a traditional Western aesthetic with a laid-back, beachy air. With this newly trending hashtag, we’ve also seen an uptick in yeehaw-inspired activities like line dancing. If you’re one of many opting to give lessons a try this spring (or would at least like to dress like you are), cowboy boots are pretty much a non-negotiable. Choose a pair that leans more trend-forward than traditional, like a white boot with Western embroidery and a stacked high heel. To keep things in line with the coastal feel, pair yours with a breezy sundress or a bikini top and denim maxi skirt.

Mia Frankie, $, available at SHOE DEPTThe Activity: Day Trips To The Farmers’ Market
The Shoe: A Comfortable, Casual Sneaker

Paying a trip to the farmers’ market is wonderfully unique in that it sits at the intersection of partaking in a social activity and running errands (you’re buying groceries but it’s fun!). And during the spring, you’re buying organic veggies and fruits, fresh-baked breads, homemade jams, and other edible odds and ends while spending time in the sun. But now’s not the time for fancy footwear (the priority is hauling home your goods, not stressing about sore feet). Hop from produce stand to bread bin to food truck with practical-yet-stylish footwear, like this vibrant, comfortable pair of platform sneakers.

PUMA Karmen Rebelle, $, available at SHOE DEPTThe Activity: Weekend Music Festivals
The Shoe: A Chunky, Lug-Sole Sandal

Festival season is upon us, with plenty of outdoor concert plans on the horizon to fill our calendars through the end of summer. This means it’s time to start planning outfits, or more specifically, footwear. Shoes will dictate how good of a time you’ll have (i.e., they must be comfortable, breathable, easy to walk and dance in, and, most of all, look cute). A chunky, lug-sole sandal with a bit of height will be your saving grace. Ideal for navigating all sorts of terrains and easy to dance in (and run from stage to stage), they’ll greatly reduce the risk of sore, achy feet so you can actually enjoy the music. 

Timberland London Vibe, $, available at SHOE DEPTThe Activity: Gardening-Filled Afternoons
The Shoe: Sensible (& Fun) Clogs

Will 2023 be the year you pick up gardening? Yes. Yes, it will be. Turn your backyard into an oasis by planting all the things, like beets, carrots, parsnips, leafy greens, and various flowers. Wear shoes that are both comfortable and waterproof, and — why not — on-trend. As chunky clogs continue to trend, have some fun with your horticulture-ready ensembles: Reach for a pair that’s practical design-wise in a dopamine-boosting shade of blue.

Crocs Classic Clog, $, available at SHOE DEPT

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