Poppy Barley Sandal Review: Ethical and Comfortable Shoes for Grown-ass Women

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Poppy Barley sandal review by Wardrobe Oxygen

I have been intrigued by Poppy Barley footwear for a long while. An online retailer offering high quality and ethically made footwear, Poppy Barley sounds like a great retailer for the Wardrobe Oxygen community. With summer here, I was especially curious about the brand's sandals but with my hard-to-fit feet, I didn't know if I could provide a quality review. So I reached out in the Wardrobe Oxygen community to see if one of you would be willing to write an honest Poppy Barley sandal review.

From the dozens who applied, Jackie was picked by random and I think she did a fantastic job! In exchange for this honest Poppy Barley sandal review, Jackie was able to order any pair of Poppy Barley sandals that appealed to her, and was paid a fair rate for this post. To get the true customer experience, Jackie was provided a promo code to use as checkout so they were free, but still went through the traditional customer experience.

Thank you Jackie for this detailed and helpful review of Poppy Barley sandals, I know I am not the only one who appreciates you sharing your experience to help us become more informed consumers! And thanks to your review, I may have to try out some of the wide width styles of Poppy Barley footwear!

Click here to read previous footwear reviews and shoe advice on Wardrobe Oxygen!

Poppy Barley Sandal Review

My Quest for Stylish Sandals for Mature Professional Women

How does a mature professional woman find affordable sandals that will last more than a season? And by “mature,” I mean a woman in her mid-forties hovering right at the top range of “straight” sizes who has sworn off Target footwear forever. A pair that I could keep in my closet for years and wouldn’t aggravate that nagging case of plantar fasciitis but cute enough to wear to a summer wedding.

I don’t consider myself a particularly elegant dresser, but if I’m going to invest in a pair of shoes, I want classic. Timeless. No ruffles or flowers or beads or anything that looks destined to disappear after a few wears. I need to be able to wear them with pants and a range of dresses, and when I try to wear anything like a stiletto or kitten heel, I get wobbly. I love the smell and feel of real leather, but I don’t love a sweaty foot, especially living in the Baltimore, Maryland area, known far and wide for our sultry swampy climate.

Building a Shoe Wardrobe

Beyond investing in a single pair, I’m also trying to build a solid inventory, aiming for the day when I feel like I already own a good pair of shoes for every occasion and don’t need to make a last-minute assault on my local department store when invited to an evening event. My go-to flat shoe is usually the Allbirds Tree Breezer, which I own in black, sand, olive, and brown, but I’ve also noticed that they aren’t quite as durable as a leather shoe might be and I wouldn’t call them dressy either.

Check out Alison's review if Allbirds fit wide feet

What Makes Poppy Barley a Great Shoe Brand?

Poppy Barley founders
Sisters Kendall and Justine Barber, co-founders of Poppy Barley

A Canadian brand with certified B-corp status, Poppy Barley was co-founded in 2012 by Justine and Kendall Barber to offer a range of shoes and accessories that they aptly call “luxury for the people.”

I was pleasantly surprised to see some standards and policies I had never seen from an apparel brand before. Each of their three Mexican factories is profiled on their website, including owners, demographics and number of employees, and the Poppy Barley Factory Code of Conduct Tool is highlighted as well and based on standards from the International Labour Organization core labor standards.

They believe in “reformed pricing,” avoiding the higher mark-ups commonly practiced by both luxury and mass market brands, and their Poppy Perks and referral programs reward loyal customers while also making it easier to build your collection. Throw in free returns for a brand that clearly knows how customers today want their online shopping experience to perform.

While this review focuses on sandals, Poppy Barley carries a range of footwear in sizes 5-12 including made to order tall boots in a range of calf circumferences to fit most anyone. Poppy Barley also carries accessories like backpacks, handbags, and other small leather and vegan accessories made as ethically as their footwear.

Poppy Barley Sandal Review

black leather flats from Poppy Barley and showing how she can easily fold them in two.
From the Poppy Barley website: “EverEase technology pares comfort down to its simplest form by eliminating stiff shoe structures. The result? Shoes that feel like slippers, essentially.”

Poppy Barley advertises their EverEase comfort technology, promising that their shoes will be comfortable immediately, without needing a breaking-in period. This was especially enticing to me, as I’m the kind of shopper who wants to be able to wear her purchase out of the store (or package) and get some instant gratification. I went to check out what style and color of Poppy Barley sandals I wanted to review.

Choosing the Cross Town Sandal from Poppy Barley

Cross Town Sandal from Poppy Barley
The Poppy Barley Cross Town sandal is available in black, white, and praline and sizes 5-12

Knowing that I wanted a black leather option, I also thought carefully about what I’ve loved in sandals in the past. The streamlined look of the Poppy Barley Cross Town sandal appealed to me, as did the adjustable strap at the heel to keep the sandal securely on my foot. The toe is somewhere between rounded and pointed for a shape that naturally follows the foot, and the touch of gold at the ankle buckle was just enough for me.

Black Cross Town Sandal from Poppy Barley

Once the sandals arrived, I did need to adjust the strap to fit my somewhat narrow ankles, and I was happy to see that the strap did allow for this function instead of being secretly elasticized as many such straps are.

Styling Poppy Barley Sandals

Black Cross Town Sandal review

For a work ensemble, I chose to pair the Poppy Barley Cross Town sandal with some summer-weight cropped black pants, red top, and long gold necklace. On this day, I crossed campus a number of times and gave several presentations to different groups of students, and the Cross Town sandals felt like I’d worn them a dozen times before in the best way.

Poppy Barley Sandal Review

Styling the sandals with this knee-length black dress and denim jacket, I could feel comfortable heading out to dinner or in a casual work setting indoors or outdoors, no small feat in a mid-Atlantic summer.

how to style Poppy Barley Sandals

Another time, I styled the sandals with a longer skirt and more casual t-shirt to wear the sandals for a walk through the historic district of a neighbor town to mine.

Would I Order from Poppy Barley Again?

Poppy Barley Sandal Review

Would I shop Poppy Barley again? In a word, absolutely! I almost chose one of the other great sandals for this review, and I’ve been thinking about a couple of styles ever since. For a closed-toe option, I’ve also been a little obsessed with the gorgeous Comeback Oxford.

Poppy Barley shoes are definitely investment pieces, but in my experience, being able to feel satisfied both ethically and fashionably is worth the price.

Poppy Barley Promo Code

I asked Poppy Barley if they would provide the Wardrobe Oxygen community with a promotional discount code. These shoes are a bit of an investment, but have been reviewed by many beyond Jackie as being well worth the price. But it may be easier to budget with 10% off!

Use promo code WARDOBEOXYGEN10 at checkout for 10% off your order at Poppy Barley. This promotional code is only valid until August 31, 2023.

You may also like: do Allbirds fit wide feet?
A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Love these flat sandals — the leather looks to be of such high quality, they look like they’ll mold to your feet and last several years. I also like the squared toe and the tan and black combo. But not sure why/when/how we’ve started referring to shoes as “investment pieces.” Even the highest quality shoes last a few years and then we replace them.

    1. Hi Bette! I use the term for myself to help me move out of “paying how much for this shoe?!” to “this shoe is going to give me a good return on the amount of money I am spending.” It’s a mindset shift tool as much as a financial one for me.

  2. Great review – I’m wondering if the tan bottom of the sandal is eventually going to show a footprint. I tend to shy away from sandals that don’t have black bottoms for that reason. I hate to see toe marks on my shoes. I have beautiful handmade sandals from Greece that I tend not to wear (stupid, I know) because toe marks are starting to form on the bottoms.

    1. Molly, my sister is the same way. I give her grief all the time about her footprint obsession, LOL, but once it’s been pointed out, I can somewhat see her/your point. If it bothers you, I definitely would go with a dark brown or black insole!

  3. Thanks for the great review. I always appreciate good flat (ish) sandals. These are lovely. I do wonder how the leather would hold up to the Florida thunderstorms that one cannot avoid. But these look pretty and dare I say practical.

    1. Krista, I see your point about the leather, you would probably want to try some kind of protective spray in that case

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