Puma "Tekkies": $45, or $31-$27 on sale for select styles.
We just bought a pair of these ourselves (World Cup limited edition colors!), and we can absolutely vouch for the fact that they pack down to nothing and are generally extremely lightweight without sacrificing comfort or style. If you get on buying them ASAP, the Puma online shop has a few of the World Cup editions left over on sale, but otherwise we'd go for a solid black or red pair. Wanna try them on first? It looks like Nordstrom carries them too. We've bought these & these. Bonus points: unisex style.
Havaianas Sandals: $18-$28.
Travelers who've been to Brazil should know all about Havaianas, since they're practically the official national footwear. Throw out whatever Old Navy flip flops you have and invest in a pair of these, and you'll never look back. Unlike cheaper flip flops, Havaianas' patented rubber technology (which Nike has been trying to buy) means that these flip flips won't wear down and will remain spongey.
Poolside at trendy hotels, this is the brand to have anyway; the Havaianas name is highly respected. Our favorite women's "Fit" style is top left, and the classic Brazil flag men's style is top right. We own far too many Havaianas to link to here. Bonus points: completely made in Brazil.
Espadrille flats from Target or Urban Outfitters: $14-$17.
Above at left are two espadrille flat options from Target available now for women, and above at right are two men's options from Urban Outfitters. We have the former and can say that we've never spent $17 on a better summer shoe ever. And yes men, you can do espadrilles.
The rope (or bamboo) soles are extremely shock-absorbant and light, and the inner soles will quickly form to your feet like a good pair of Birkenstocks.
These are for when you're traveling to warmer destination and you can't wear flip flops everywhere, or you want closed shoes but not sneakers. We bought these. Bonus points: if you wear them into the ground, they're cheap enough to go ahead and buy a backup pair or another color.
Melissa jellies: $50-$130.
Who wants to pack and then have to wear heavy, leather dress shoes in 90-degree weather? Enter Melissa, a Brazilian brand of the most creative plastic shoes; Crocs wishes it was this good. Melissa shoes are made in Brazil of natural and sustainable rubber. And unlike the jelly shoes of your childhood memories, they are beyond comfortable and completely waterproof. Their shoes actually won the 2009 Design Award for Best Travel Accessory by Travel & Leisure.
While Melissa offers a ton of styles for women (including collabs with designers like Vivienne Westwood and Alexandre Herchcovitch), they've just launched a men's collection called M:Zero. One of the M:Zero styles is the gray flocked rubber number in the bottom right corner above. You can find Melissa at Epaulet and Alter in Brooklyn, as well as many places online. We've bought these & these. Bonus points: they clean up easily in a sink with soap and water.
Going camping or in for some long walks this summer? Swedish brand Tretorn may be the kind of unique yet functional footwear you've been looking for. They've got a couple stores including one in NYC's Soho, but a good selection sits online. We love the hints of Scandinavian design and unisex appeal. We have these & these. Bonus points: They often run sales, like right now.