Many fashion trends are hard to explain — why they’re popular when they are often seem unmoored from whatever else is going on at the time. But the ascendant popularity of the mule for men just makes sense for right now. Because bending down to properly fit your shoe to your foot is so two years ago.
Of course, mules have been a closet staple for women for a long time, but men are finally catching up to the appeal of this laid-back style. When many of us are spending more time at home, there’s a value to a shoe that’s versatile enough to wear around the house and on a daily sanity walk.
Of course, that the mule is a practical shoe for the Zoom era might imply it only cropped up in 2020. But mules for men have been growing in popularity for a while now, and many of the popular options today arguably draw their inspiration from three shoes in particular, which have spearheaded the popularity of the style — the Birkenstock Boston, the Gucci Horsebit backless loafer and the Crocs Clog.
There’s the Birkenstock Boston, a stylish, hippie-ish shoe made of suede with a comfortable cork footbed. On the dressier end, Gucci’s iconic horse-bit loafer has gotten a louche upgrade in the form of a backless style, a look that’s simultaneously so luxurious and so casual that it feels like the kind of shoe you’d wear in a suite at the Chateau Marmont. Finally, there’s the dark horse of the bunch, Crocs, which are technically considered clogs, a close cousin of the mule. They’re a decidedly ugly shoe that’s gained a remarkable amount of fashion clout. All of these shoes radically diverge in design, yet they all have comfort in common.
Much like the animal it shares a name with, the mule is an interesting hybrid of two different things. Many men’s mules combine traditional outdoor shoe styles with details from house slippers. The best mules for men will be made from luxurious materials like leather that make it impossible not to want to wear them outside the house. And because men’s sneakers are still dominant, you can even find backless takes on popular styles from brands like Adidas and Vans. As great as all of these shoes are around the house, they’ll be even better for your post-pandemic hangs.
These are some of our favorite men’s mules to buy online right now. And, trust us, with any pair of these you’ll always be the most fashionable walking down the street.
1. Birkenstock Boston Soft Footbed
If you’re going to buy a single mule, make it the Birkenstock Boston. It may be a little adventurous if you were raised on a fashion diet of simple sneakers and dressy boots, but the Boston is enough of a classic that you’ll be able to work it into your wardrobe — it wears well with jeans, work pants and it can be worn with shorts, too. This shoe has a soft cork footbed and a supple suede upper. You can also choose leather options from this listing.
2. Vince Alonzo 2 Woven Suede Slippers
These slippers from Vince are made from tan suede with a basketweave pattern on the upper, giving the shoes the look of a Frankensteined hybrid between a pair of Minnetonka moccasins, checkerboard Vans and a Bottega Veneta wallet. And as weird as that sounds, these shoes look surprisingly stylish. The upper is suede and the bottom is grippy rubber. If you want a dressier version of these, there’s a black leather option as well.
Vince Alonzo 2 Woven Suede Slippers
3. Greats The Foster Slipper
FOR COZY TOES
Greats built their brand making the kinds of sneakers you could wear with a suit, but they just so happen to make one of the best casual slippers around. The Foster slipper is a stylish option with a nylon upper and a thick rubber sole. It’s built for indoor wear, but it’s a great option to wear around town, too. True to their commitment to sustainability, the upper is made from recycled nylon and the sole is made from natural rubber.
Greats the Foster Slipper
4. Reebok Beatnik Shoes
The Reebok Beatnik Shoes are set to fully release in their full-color line on August 17th, but there are already some of these brand-new, effortlessly cool men’s mules available right now on Reebok’s website. Like the mules prior, these mules are topped in a quilted upper that brings a camper sleeping bag-esque kind of vibe to the backless design. Instead of being fully backless, though, the shoes are complete with a buckled strap to keep your feet snug inside at all times. We love these in orange, but you need to see some of these colors to believe them.
Reebok Beatnik Shoes
5. Vans Checkerboard Slip-on Mule
Speaking of Vans, there’s a good chance that if you own canvas sneakers, you sometimes step on the backs to wear them around, instead of actually slipping them on the right way. This slip-on mule from Vans makes it easier by doing away with the back of the shoe entirely. Vans also make mule versions of their other iconic sneakers like the Authentic and the Old Skool. It’s worth noting that these are unisex, so the sizing is limited in larger men’s sizes.
Vans Classic Slip-On Mule
6. Gucci Elea Slipper with Horsebit
If we’re going to include a ludicrously expensive shoe, we’re going to include the most ludicrously expensive version of that shoe. This mule, based on Gucci’s classic Horsebit slipper, was introduced by visionary designer Alessandro Michele. This mule screams opulence and will keep you looking in tip-top shape.
Crocs Classic Clog
8. FitFlop SHUV Leather Mules
With three layers of cushioning at the bottom, the SHUV Leather Mules are some of the most comfortable we’ve seen But once you slip them on, you’re unlikely to want to take them off. At the toes, expect medium support to help you push off when you walk, in the middle, you’ll feel a soft material to maximize coziness and at the heel, your foot will experience a firmer cushioning for impact. Not only that, but these leather mules are seriously good-looking. They come in a deep black color and look as if they were sculpted by hand. What more could you want?
FitFlop SHUV Leather Mules
9. H&M Suede Mules
If you love the Birkenstock Boston Soft Bed but don’t know if mules are necessarily your style, H&M has an awesome alternative that won’t cost you too much money. These suede mules are only $35 and fit like a glove. Pair them with a pair of socks for an effortless look that will look great on errands like laundry and supermarket runs. Ready to tone them up? Wear these suede mules near the coast with rolled jeans and an open buttoned-down shirt.
H&M Suede Mules
10. Skechers Sport Equalizer Coast to Coast Mule
BEST FOR WALKING
It’s safe to say that almost everyone’s owned a pair of Sketchers at least once, right? They’re an American classic. They might not be the most “trendy” sneakers in 2021, but by transforming them into men’s mules, you’ll be right on top of the trends. The same way Crocs are trendy for the sheer fact that they’re heinous, you can make Sketchers trendy for the fact that they simply are not. Try it. We dare you. Given that they’re only $50, you have nothing to lose.
Skechers Sport Equalizer Coast to Coast Mule
11. ASOS DESIGN Backless Mule Loafer
Alright, so you’ve got a formal event to attend in the coming weeks? It’s time you outdress the bride and groom with a pair of backless loafers that will have everybody turning heads. These floral-printed backless loafers from ASOS aren’t just good-looking, they’re completely affordable. Trust us — you’ll have the best footwear out of everyone.
ASOS DESIGN Backless Mule Loafer
12. KOIO Fuori Mules
Cool, comfortable and luxurious. What more could you need? The KOIO Fuori Mules should be on everyone’s shoe rack right now. These mules are handcrafted in Italy from a soft, handsome-looking suede everybody will look good in. Each mule has a cushioned footbed that morphs to your sole over time. They’re complete with a top buckle for added fashion.
KOIO Fuori Mules
13. adidas 032C GSG Mules
This men’s mule from Adidas looks like it was made for a very laid-back apocalypse. The chunky wedge sole gives traction, and the upper is made from neoprene. These shoes were made by Adidas in collaboration with 032c, a magazine and design studio. They still have Adidas classic three-stripes branding, although these won’t be confused for your standard Superstars anytime soon.
adidas 032C GSG Mules
14. Balenciaga Track Mules
THE ONES THAT LOOK LIKE SOCKS?
Sadly, no, these are the ones that look like socks. Cardi B was wrong here and Balenciaga hasn’t mastered the sock-like mule as of yet. Other than that, these track sneaker/mule hybrids are totally handsome for anyone who doesn’t want to ditch out on the street style trend when wearing mules. They will cost you an arm and a leg, but given how premium these sneaker mules are, we think they’re worth it.