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How to Survive Sandal Season With Only 6.5 Toenails

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It’s a common affliction among runners, dancers, and plenty of people who are always on their feet.

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Runner lacing up shoes Photo: JGI/Getty Images

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I run a lot and have a common runner's lament: bruised, broken, and missing toenails. I have about 6.5 of them on any given day, so sandal season is not my time to shine. Same for dancers, soccer players, and my friend who dropped a box on her big toenail, which is now deceased.

This has been embarrassing, especially when I started running trail races, which meant more stubbed toes, which meant more bruised toenails. I couldn't get by with dark nail polish to cover up what was there (and bruised) anymore because so much of the skin was damaged, or there to sort of fill in what I had lost. The return of the pump has made things easier, but for years, everything was open-toe: fancy shoes, casual shoes, even boots that were supposed to be for that transitional season between summer and fall.

So I made a roster of what I called my cover-ups. My captain is a pair of shiny nude flats that look like patent leather but aren't (I mean, they're Mossimo from Target). I bought them in a panic when I had to go to a fancy outdoor party, but they’ve worked with just about anything: I've worn them to meetings, on dates, even with dresses I've worn as a wedding guest.

That shoe's more casual backup option is a pair of blush pink Børn loafers. I'm not a fan of pink, but this one is just about a neutral. They can class up a pair of jeans, or make a light gray dress that I usually wear with tights in the winter summer-appropriate for the three times a year that I have to go into an office.

Speaking of clothes for all seasons, cap-toe shoes are my footwear equivalent. My main go-to is a caramel and black cap-toe ballet flat by AGL. If I wasn't about to set out on a cross-country road trip, I'd be getting the white and navy version that Nordstrom is selling right now. On the rare occasions I wear a heel (see: runner), I opt for one of my best vintage buys: ivory and black cap-toe Chanel heels scored from Decades in Los Angeles.

When I went to Italy in 2014, I brought one pair of shoes: a lemon-lime green pair of Mizuno Mushas that I used to wear when running. They worked just as well running through the streets of Rome as they did at a nightclub in Capri. (I may sound fancy, but it was a budget trip. My best tip for Capri: When the bouncers tell you the cover charge is 20 Euros, tell them to fuck off. They'll let you right in.)

But my main ally is DNGAF. No, that's not a shoe, but an attitude. In April I met up with some friends in Cape May, New Jersey, in my beach shoes, which are black Sanuk yoga slings. As I sat on the sand and looked at the water, my bruised and broken toes on full view, one of my friends said, "Those feet have carried you many miles and places, so who cares?"

Got any favorite closed-toe shoes of your own to carry yourself through sandal season and beyond? Let us know in the comments! And meanwhile, here are a few of our picks:

Everlane Pointed Slide, $145
Topshop Softy Ballet Shoes, $26