The Birkenstock Debate

Birkenstocks remind me of my sixth-grade science teacher, Ms. Tufo. She was the first person I knew that I’d consider a hippie, what with her waist-length, middle-parted hair and admirable dedication to saving the environment. She lived in a house boat. One time, her roommate went insane due to a lack of proper nutrients and tried to stab her with a carrot.

But Birkenstocks were everywhere where I grew up: at various SF farmers markets, all over the streets of neighboring communities like Davis, and Berkeley, and on the feet of practically everyone who worked in a coffee shop that featured fair trade beans and locally sourced sandwich sprouts. So when Céline sent the fur-lined iterations down the runway, it took me a minute to realize that they were meant to be worn with one’s most expensive white blouses — as opposed to being an ironic styling prop.

It was, however, immediately clear that they were the perfect solution to slouchy, wide leg trousers. They also worked well with baggy cuffed pants. And while the trend caught on immediately (though I laugh to use the word “trend” for a sandal that’s been around since what, ancient Jerusalem?), and I understood their sartorial worth, I worried that the very specific look would die out the moment I caved and bought a pair.

So I didn’t. I haven’t. Did you know, though, that it’s been almost four years since I’ve repeatedly thought about the same shoe? The last time I thought about a sandal this much was in Fall 2010, when I actually thought I was going to die if I didn’t own those remarkable color-blocked Fendi heels. This industry makes you fickle, and the second you love something, you’re sick of it. I look at so many shoes that just as soon as I declare something my new favorite — I’m on to the next thing, and both my wardrobe and physical self are able to survive.

But these Birkenstocks have stuck. I can’t get them off my mind and I have no clue why. They’re not attractive. They make my feet look large and flat, like Bilbo Baggins without all the hair. They’re also an annoying price. 100 dollars is technically cheap when considering I just compared my desire for them to Fendi. But 100 dollars is also kind of expensive for a pair of cork-bottomed feet luggers that are going to make me shlep and slouch like a hobbit. These won’t make my legs look leaner, and they won’t “jazz up” a pair of jeans. But I want them. I do.

So should I get them? And if so, should I get the original brand in honor of Ms. Tufo? Or should I be safe in case the trend suddenly dies and go with a cheaper pair? I need your help quickly before I do something rash, like purchase a designer version or worse, stab someone with a carrot.

— Amelia Diamond

  • Toune Saengsoury

    I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks since the 90’s. It’s funny how it’s a trend now. But I’ve been wearing them because of comfort more than anything. And if you wear ’em with the right outfit, it doesn’t look too shabby. I say, go for it!

    • Amelia Diamond

      OK BUT. I heard they are actually not that comfortable to walk in, or at least hard to break in. Any truth? Any tips?

      • Linds

        They take some serious time to break in (especially if you have a low arch — they are SERIOUS about arch support) but I’ve been wearing them for almost 20 years (I’m only almost 31 so I’ve been a Birkinstock enthusiast for awhile now). But they’re fabulous. I love them and I wear them in NON FASHIONABLE ways (cue my yoga pants and my Birkinstock clogs).

      • Not hard to break in at all, they’re very comfortable, you never get sore feet with them! And they’re very good for your feet too!

        Mafalda ❤

      • Liz

        Not true. Really comfortable but obviously get better with wear. They were my go to shoe through middle and high school, despite the “jesus” sandal mocking.

      • Toune Saengsoury

        They are comfortable, no doubt about that. But you’ll have to break them in just like every other pair of shoes/sandals. It didn’t take too long for me…probably because I wore them for a whole week non-stop. It breaks in quicker during the warmer months. As for comfortably walking in them, I’d say you’ll have to try on different pairs of Birkenstocks to see which style suits you best. I own the Arizona style. And the Mayari ones are pretty nice too. They also have soft footbeds for most of their sandals too. 🙂

      • Anamarie

        Feel like I’m stating the obvious, but everyone has different feet. I see some people say they’re comfortable right out of the box, but that was not my experience. I have low arches and had a two-week break in time for my recently-purchased pair. The soles of the sandals are very stiff and don’t flex much when you walk when you first start wearing them. So that was a huge problem for me at first. Just STANDING in them hurt at first, so I wore them for a couple of hours around the house every night for almost two weeks. One day I put them on and forgot I was wearing them. THEN they were awesome. I wore mine walking around in Vegas for a couple of days with no issues. So, you might have break-in issues, or you might not. I recently purchased a second pair which were just as stiff as the first, but now my feet are used to the feeling and I can wear them no problem right away. I bought black patent Mayari and silver Gizehs.

      • Annie

        They ARE comfortable. You adjust the straps to fit your foot. I usually wear a US8/Eu38 and I bought the 38. Their size conversion to American sizing is wrong. Go by what you wear in Eu sizing and they should fit perfectly.

      • Annie

        Also, don’t buy the Giambattista Valli version with the studs. Nice to look at but extremely uncomfortable. The leather is very hard. And they are over $800.

      • Sara

        Don’t worry — they are very comfortable.

      • They take a good couple of weeks to break in, and then they are LIKE LIL CORK CRADLES THAT CRADLE AND CRADLE AND SAVE AND CRADLE YOUR FEET

      • cupcake6

        Buy the soft foot bed, i have those and they are really good. I just got another pair of the regular foot bed and those are a bit stiff but they will break in. Your foot molds to them

      • hallifax

        I think they´re the most comfortable shoes I ever worn

      • Ariel

        Depends on your feet – I have high arches and they fit me perfectly almost immediately, and I find them extremely comfortable!!

      • Dana O’Neill Studer

        Put them on after getting out of the shower. The warmth of your feet will help them mold to your feet.

      • sarahsparkle

        I watched one of the creators of Birkenstocks selling them on QVC a decade ago… seriously…. and he explained that they are meant to mimic your footprint in sand. At first, they are stiff as HELL. You have to be dedicated, but the thing is, once you wear them in, no one else can ever wear them. There will literally be an imprint of your foot inside them (if you get the kind with a leather-on-cork footbed, the others with rubber-footbeds aren’t the same) At the broken-in stage, they literally become one with your foot. I consider them a bohemian classic and have been wearing them for years. They are simply irreplaceable. I absolutely recommend. Bonus points because they are made in responsible factories, not sweatshops.

        • Gail Donahue

          Agree bought mine from qvc about 5 or 6 years ago on “easy pay” lol best sandals/shoes I have ever worn still it great shape so comfortable

      • tamara winawer

        That’s your boyfriend and mother lying to you to put you off the scent

    • Sara

      Me too. I’ve been wearing them for 15 years (home, work). It is funny how suddenly Americans are crazy about Birkenstocks.

  • Fran Ellsworth

    Do it! They are so comfy, bonus that they’re “on trend” now. Can’t wait to see what you pair them with 🙂

  • jacky

    I just bought a gorgeous pair at H&M for about 20 € and they look a lot like the ones from Celine, except the fur. Give it a try. Your wallet will be happy as well 🙂

  • You either love them or you hate them! I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks since the 90’s, it’s my fourth pair and I still love them to bits. The thing when wearing them is to wear something chic, like a blazer, and boyfriend jeans, otherwise you’ll end up like Ms. Tufo!

    Mafalda ❤

  • Dido

    I am feeling weird as i’ve been thinkin Birkenstock are cool for the last 10 years. Now that it’s everywhere, i feel betrayed. What am I wearing now? Go for it, it will hurt, the first days for sure it will hurt – but maybe that’s the real hit. A flat that hurts – feels oh so fashionable

  • Sarah McCarron

    As younger teenager in the 90’s, I loved both my Birks and Doc Martens. I rocked the grunge and jam-band uniform well into college (likely way too long :)). My love of both types of shoes in my youth prevented me from doing it again as 33 year old woman. I looked wistfully at St. Laurent F13 and just couldn’t do it. I felt like a poser of younger self. Until. About a week ago, I tried on some of my favorite summer clothes and couldn’t help envisioning how most of it would look very “right” with Birks. I think they will strip my more feminine clothes of their prissiness. That is a look worth embracing right now. New pair is en route (high arch version). These sandals are a godsend for those with high arches. For walking, one with a back strap is preferred.

  • Anna Lila

    No, no, no. Absolutely not.

    • Paula McClelland

      Thank you voice of reason! 😉

      ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

  • Lauren

    You can’t possibly be serious. They’re heinous. Worse than sneaker shoes!

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Paulina

    I’ve always hated birkenstocks until recently, when I started seeing them styled with cool looks in editorials and runways… I also hate to think that I stopped hating birkenstocks because of peer pressure! People say they are comfy, so I will give them a try this summer.

  • as someone who is also on the fence regarding birkenstocks, I find myself debating whether or not I actually like them. Will I still wear them two summers from now when they perhaps will have been abandoned by fashion and reverted to being a wardrobe staple reserved for our collective great aunts and hippie neighbors? I want to think that my adoration of them will outlast this trend but then again, I hadn’t given Birkenstocks any consideration since the mid 90s. quite conflicted!

  • Christina Brathune

    I have wrestled with a similar debate. But then I caved, much to the disappointment of my boyfriend who thinks they make me look the quintessential hippie school marm you just described. In my opinion, they are fashion’s way of saying to women, slow down, its ok to wear shoes you can actually walk in. I opted for silver metallic ones that are the classic Birkenstock brand… and if you ask me, I am calling the look, comfortable and chic (in a Bilbo Baggins sort of way)


    • Amelia Diamond


    • John Kersh

      Hello everyone, I’m a man and I love birkenstocks. I love very many of the different types of pairs, and i wish to purchase 2 or 3 pairs. I’ve been considering getting the birkenstock mayari, and the floridas. I will repeat this, I am a man. Could this work and could i pull it off?

  • reasonable fellow

    Converse All Stars are WAY more comfortable than the dreaded BirkenFlop.

    • Cute feet

      Ack – they have zero arch support. I’ve tried two pairs now and gave up (even after I put in pads.

      I like orthoheels – most of their stuff looks old lady, but they have 2 or 3 cute styles. And I could walk forever in them.

  • Andrea Schmid

    YES. Purchase a pair of actual Birkenstocks because, you know what? Even if this trend dies down like tomorrow, they are so amazingly comfortable that on your lounging, hippy style days you can throw them on and feel the soft suede on your feet and ultimately feel happy. Happiness is the key here so let’s do it. Let’s wear these sandals.

    • Amelia Diamond

      girl you are so right

      • Hi Amelia, I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks for a long tie now, and you know what? This type of trend never dies it going around, disapear and reappears some year later… if you choose a designer one or the original one, at least you will be able to rock some vintage Birkies that will always be trendy. You make something trendy I believe, not the opposite…
        Go with you guts. Nice day to you.

  • YES&NO

    Birkenstocks are okay but only if worn at/during appropriate moments and places. If you wanna look chic while lounging, sure, why not? Wear them by the pool, beach, around your house, if you’re on holiday… But out and about in densely populated public spaces? At eating establishments? The museum? Shopping? No no no.

  • I only ever wear them at home: They are comfortable and I like them but there’s no need to wear them outside because I get all the Birkenstock experience I need chez moi 🙂 I guess if I had your craving I’d buy something adorned and lovely-ish and see to it that the soles are the real thing (they really are good for the arches, it would seem, and you get used to all the hardness).
    But maybe it would be better just to gaze adoringly at other owners (much like with the bangs) and love them, without having to wear the thing, too?

  • Olivia

    No! They make even the lovelist outfit look drab. They are so unflattering.

  • Erica

    I love em! I bought the Senso version, practically didn’t take them off all Australian summer.

  • Just go with the Disney-Dad velcro version. I think you may also be able to wear them in water?

    • Amelia Diamond

      My dad wore these an entire summer on the French Riviera. I just said FRENCH RIVIERA AND MY DAD WORE THEM.

      • That move defines YOLO.

      • Ugh…I used to have so many different colors of Tevas. #BayAreaKid = original normcore

    • oh myy, this is a no no for me, better go with a classic version with lether please!!!!

  • ItalianRules

    I’m wearing mine right now.. yes, very comfy…… but only at home with no one looking at me… or my feet…. go for it.. buy one…. honestly? wear it in public – I dare you!

  • David

    Amelia, Hi, I read your post and just had to respond. This is David Kahan and yes I am the Chief Executive Officer of Birkenstock USA. Now having gotten that discliamer out of the way, I will share my thoughts… While we at Birkenstock are flattered that many top “designers” now choose to create interpretations of our brand, and while we get a kick out of daily celebrity sightings ranging from Soho to Malibu, wearing their Birkenstocks…there is no way we see this as some “flavor of the month” type “trend.”
    Just the opposite. To us, the “fashionable” crowd is just waking up and coming to understand what many (like Ms. Tufo) have known for a long, long time…Birkenstocks FEEL GREAT ON YOUR FEET. So, what is happening now? Shoes that a while ago, many called ugly, they now say are “cute” and squeel with excitment when they now see at retail our classic styles, but revolutionized with fun updates like patent, metallic, all white, and exquisite wrapped leather detailing. And yes now, the “fashionable” girl (and many Guys as well) are finding our brand merchandised not only in the traditional comfort sit and fit shoe store, but also in the most fashionable and trendy ready to wear boutiques and the leading Department Stores. Birkenstock may very well be, the perfect footwear complement to more apparel outfits than other style in your wardrobe – from baggy “boyfriend” jeans, to pencil thin denim, to loose boho skirts, to the loose flowy “pajama” bottoms every trendy boutique is showing. It seems instead of wearing Birkenstocks when you may have taken a day off from being “fashionable”, or sure just spent a Sunday morning at the Farmers market, women now are finding ways to incorporate Birkenstocks into almost every wardrobe choice they make. Now I wouldnt say its appropriate to wear to a formal affair or a dinner at a four star restaurant, or maybe to the office if you work at an investment bank….but, demand is so darn high now because, once someone wears them, frankly, they have a hard time liking wearing anything else. Sure, every now and then, PLEASE put on a pair of six inch heels or wear a sky high wedge to go out and feel less “slouchy” – we are confident that the minute you walk into your house and kick them off, you will reach under your bed to grab your Birkenstocks….slip them on and say “aaaaaahhhh.” You see Amelia, we don’t believe there is any “debate”…instead there is validation. Validation that a brand that has been around since 1774 (maybe not ancient Jerusalem, but a long, long time), and a brand that still remains steadfast in our commitment to the highest quality materials and is still made each pair by hand in Germany, can be part of, dare I say, a fashionable woman’s wardrobe. If you need any nudging then ok so be it, on behalf of all the employees at Birkenstock USA, we say yes, go buy a pair of Birkenstock. Just don’t feel like you are catching onto a trend; instead feel like you are catching onto what we have known for a long, long time…..It is fashionable to wear footwear that actually makes you feel good when you wear them. Birkenstock IS THE HEIGHT OF FASHION…without compromising the DNA of our brand. Amelia, my only advice is act now for Spring….aside from our proven core/classic models, which may be easier to find, many of our new releases that are hitting the market, are selling out quickly in stores. Wear them proud…Amelia, sincerely, I appreciate and actually understand your “hesitation” in making this buying decision. All i can say, is get off the fence and wear them proud. And one last thing…this so called “trend” will for sure continue to gain momentum, not just over the next 30 days as Spring kicks in, but even bigger for Fall when our shearling lined Birkenstocks hit stores and yes NEXT SPRING 2015 when we introduce even more new styles. Consumers now are validating their LOVE for our brand, and in turn we show our LOVE for our consumers by bringing more exciting products to the market. THANKS –

    • Amelia Diamond

      SOLD! Thanks for reading, David!

    • Pam

      It is all about comfort. Save yourself from some foot pain in the future and take care of your feet, Birkenstock can help with that. Spiked skyhigh heels and pointy toes are not healthy for anyone to wear. These styles can cause permanent foot damage. Birks on the other hand save your feet.

    • I absolutely agree with this. As I said above, leaving in France, and now in Luxembourg, I use to wear Birkenstocks and to me it’s not an article that makes you trendy. You take an article and make it trendy. Birkenstocks feels to me like they are all by themselves “statement shoes” telling the world, I don’t mind what you think about me wearing those, I’m more then trendy: I’m making fashion. Nice day everybody! Love them.

  • frau musgrave

    get the real thing – super comfortable from the word go and very light on the feet. buy some brightly coloured ones, dress them up with a great hat and skinny pants – you won’t look back…

  • Personally we love the growing popularity of the Birkenstock! So comfortable, and so much more stylish than flip flops!

  • Annie

    I have the silver real birks, the all black real birks with the black leather straps & black covered sole, and I just got the Givenchy version because they have silver buckles. They are all instantly comfortable & I wear them mostly around my apt. But if you are up near Columbia U you might have seen me today running around in the Givenchys with white socks. Very MK&A! The key to not looking like an anthropologist or a 60s holdover is to wear them with something that is not usually seen with them, like a sweet dress with socks, or with a pair of wide legged pants and a silky, slouchy blouse, a la Celine. The reason that they are so popular is really because they are comfortable, and the fashion world has now given them their blessing. Go for them!

  • bossysheryl

    If you’re concerned about break in time, buy a pair with the Soft Footbed.

    I’ve been wearing Birks for 40 years, and the Soft Footbed is the best invention ever.

  • Mafalda

    its like you are on my mind! same self debate here! 😉

  • Harper

    They are very chic right now. Who would of thought they would resurface as such a high fashion trend. I went for the black Zara version. Very cool but cheap enough so as not to feel like you got robbed when the trend dies.

  • Paris

    – An angry frenchman

  • Melody

    Yessss. I mean, they’re better for spring/summer than flip flops are (anything is better than flip flops). I recently got the Steven Madden version– black pony hair ones with black hardware…. everybody hates them but they are so me, and they go with everything I own (black).

    • Melody

      and yes my phone just autocorrected “Steve” to “Steven” welp that’s embarrassing

  • Kristen

    I WAS JUST HAVING THE EXACT SAME THOUGHTS AS YOU. It’s as though we’re somehow spiritually connected. I’ve always hated them and expressed it openly to my cousin, to whom I said “birkenstocks are ugly” and she replied, “YOU’RE UGLY.” But now, seeing the way they’ve been styled and seeing them anywhere and everywhere have started to change my mind, and at the same time I’m worried that when I get it fashion will revert to its sneering and jeering at birkenstocks, as if they were joking all along or something. Alas, summer’s coming up and my feet need the support, so hear, hear to comfortable fashion!

  • Probably the dumbest fashion trend of all times. I just don’t get it… same goes with UGGs.

  • Margaret Ely

    just stop at my house, my mom has lots. even rubber ones. Lucky me huh?

  • Margaret Ely

    Amelia, if you are dreaming about them for 4 years. GETTTTT EM

  • Fashion Backwards

    I’ve been having the same internal debate! Thank you so much for this article. I look at them and see ugly, but I secretly desire them and it just makes absolutely no sense. Perhaps you should go try on a pair, and maybe give them spin with a couple if different outfits to really justify the purchase =).

    -Emily Oberman

  • Adelle – WTSTA blog

    I literally gag at them…hahahaha *GAG* It’s not going to win me favours as a blogger but I just can’t stand them.

    It’s like the trend when we thought reef sandals were rad, they had a purpose, to walk in water, nobody walked in water with them, they walked to the shops with their boardies and tank tops. Or Masseur sandals, meant to ‘massage your feet’ but at age 10 I wanted them so badly then only wore them when I felt it was necessary to be fashionable because they bloody hurt my feet! They were not massaging…they basically stabbed your feet, like you were crossing the gravel road with no shoes on! They’re ridiculous.

    The choice is up to you, but I did recently see a bus full of old ladies flock our local pub for friday night dinner and a little bit of KENO, majority of them wore Birks because they can’t wear heels anymore – just food for thought. haha


    • Joel handelman

      The reason why they wear Birks may be because they did permanent damage to their foot by wearing high heels for many years. Just food for thought.

  • Olivia

    Aussies have been repping the birks for ages. Just do it.

  • Ashley Aspinwall

    I. Just. Can’t. I get it…but I can’t.

  • The more I see them the more I crave them! I’ve worn them for years!

  • su

    As a (GERMAN!) child of the 80s I physically CAN’T wear them… I CAN’T…. My teenage-years were pure and completely Birkenstock’s. May the style goddess forgive….

  • Rosie

    Just purchased these from Zara, and I don’t regret my decision.

  • Ai-Ch’ng GB

    Such a funny post, because I was just thinking exactly the same thing (about my science teacher who wore the Arizona version with thick nubbly knee high socks – just like the “fashion” model in the first shot!) not half an hour ago when, I caught sight of myself in Birkenstocks, reflected back in a plate glass window. And such a true post about the ease of wearing them!

    I was also thinking: “I am so glad I’ve got rid of all my shoes that hurt my feet/have pointy toes/skinny heels/are higher than 3.75cm”. Left now with just flat ankle boots, a few brogues, two pairs of sneakers, I’ve discovered all that stuff about accupressure points in our feet is absolutely true: flat, wider footwear has made my feet – and hence – the rest of my body feel the best it ever has.

    My Birkies, however, dive deeper into “Nerdom” (The Kingdom of Nerd) than our old science teachers, though: unlike his (and the above model’s) Arizona Birkie version, mine is the visually unappealing and orthapaedically happy Milano Birkie version – which has a “small child-like” back strap across the heel.

    It’s not some kinky preference for wearing kid’s sandals that prompted me to purchase the Milano over another pair of Arizona. It’s because the Milano is unbelievably comfortable, because my feet don’t ever slip out of it – especially when I run (oh yes, that’s a mighty ugly look… but – like I said before – so comfortable)!

    Socks have not yet made it to light with either my Arizona Birkies or the infinitely nerdy Milano (which, in an attempt to make myself feel less “schleppy”, I bought a pair of the Milano in Black from Birkenstock’s “Exquisite” range – all covered black leather – including the inner sole and side bits, so there is not a bit of cork to be seen, so I can look like an upmarket science teacher).

    Sorry for the ramble down memory lane…

    So, if you’re going for comfort, Amelia, get the original version over the designer versions! You can re-sole them and they really are the most comfortable, ancient Jerusalem inspired sandal out there. And contrary to slouching, you’ll walk, run and stand so much better – making yourself appear taller and feel so much better – and who doesn’t like that!

  • T

    Got a pair of black patent leather Arizona’s earlier this year. Recieved several months’ worth of flack from my sorority sisters for my selection in arch-support sandals. Now not a day goes by when they don’t mention “OMG! ‘Birks’ at _____ [Zara, Nordstrom, Steve Madden, Forever 21 etc.] LOL…I might get a pair!” Fast fashion to theeee rescue

  • Anna

    THEY CHANGED MY LIFE. <– power period.

  • aebp53192

    Seriously lost 5lbs when I got them cuz all of a sudden I just wanted to walk EVERYWHERE #screwkalewearbirks

  • doublecurl

    aaaabsolutely buy them. but buy the real deal. if the fashion world forsakes them tomorrow, nobody’s going to bat an eye at you for wearing legit comfy german footwear. what would actually be embarassing is wearing a cheap knockoff or givenchy interpretation once they’re not trendy, right? buy them because they’re comfy and fantastic for your feet, and wear them like you’ve somehow missed the fact that they’re on trend and you’re just giving your fab feet the treatment they deserve. enjoy!

  • Tales on trends

    The same happened to me, I bought the Gizeh pair in the end last year.. and the important point to me was that they’re sooooooo comfortable, I know now why are they the shoe of a tourist, and Ive become another tourist in Paris since I wear them but I don’t care at all.
    This year, I bought another pair in a different colour, I did it via Amazon, and they were not expensive at all, so if you hesitate, get them on the internet and have no regrets because of the price… but anyway.. GET THEM!

  • Avanti

    Would love to have a pair of Birks!


  • girlinmenswear

    I bought some Birkenstocks and wore them yesterday with big wooly socks – my feet are now covered in blisters (ok I did walk like 5km in them…). I’ve been told to break them in around the house, but the whole point of owning marginally ugly shoes is to show them to the outside world, not just my cat! I say get them now and virtually sleep in them for a wk, but do it fast before they go out of fashion again.

  • annelie

    I’m ON IT. I just bought a white pair and have been desperately trying to wear them (my toes would be blue by 4pm, the skies may be clear where I am but it is not.warm.) Boyfriend’s old APCs, white linen t (teeny, minor nipple display), white birks, salty hair= summer yay

  • if youve thought about them for that long, get them LOL. i’m sure you have so many possible outfits for the sandals that it would be fine 🙂

  • Didn’t wear them back then, won’t wear them now.

    They look comfortable, but I’m a flip flop girl at heart. 🙂

  • Millicent

    They are fine. They aren’t horrible like crocs are. I still maintain that trend is worse of a word than the f bomb 🙂

  • Natalie Ast

    omg get them! Even if the trend dies, you can wear them for walks/travelling/backpacking. I grappled with this myself, and opted for a pair in silver, and went for seconds in my favourite colour – mint. I’m a huge ballet flat and heels devotee, but after stress fractures in my toes and another foot surgery on the horizon, my feet need some TLC. $100 is excellent, especially since they’re made in Germany! Granted, I would NEVER wear them to dinner/work but great for weekends or walking about. You could also buy a pair and jazz them up with rhinestones a la Zara/Jeffrey Campbell. xo, Natalie

  • esg

    they also last and last — one of my criteria for shoes these days; and as another poster stated, I don’t want a bunch of shoes cluttering up my closet. (Pair down). I now only select one pair of high-quality comfort shoes every year or so and am super picky — there are other brands also, granted not the most fashionable, but I run around an ad agency and require comfort with a little style thrown in. I can’t do flip flops (personally don’t like), Converse or Toms (both I do like) — but are too flat/unstructured.

  • Rachel

    Naot, the Israeli version of the Birkenstocks, are even more comfy!!

  • Laura Robinson

    Love my Birkenstocks. I didn’t get the classic pair. I got these in a pretty metallic blue:

    They are perfect with so many things and since I currently spend a lot of time running around campus they are my summer go to shoe. Unless I have to work in the lab.

  • kyla

    I think don’t get them. Its like sneaker wedges. Too popular, too fast. Once the fashion industry is over them, I bet you will be also. Are they something you would have wanted if they hadn’t become trendy? That is a good basis of judgement. If I really want something, I have to stop and ask myself whether I REALLY want it, or whether I want other people to know I have it.

  • belulopezchamba

    It’s super funny that no one knows that the “birkenstock-comeback” first made its appearance in Argentina in 2010. We also added platforms to ’em, a surely ankle breaker.

  • Christie Scuka Lawrence

    I have patent white and black. One Arizona, the other Gizeh. Love them. I don’t look at them like a trend, they are just comfy, and, I think, cute.

  • Zed

    If you want to ease into this, consider getting a pair of Bostons. I have a pair in a color called Antique Spice which turns out to be a really versatile shade of what I can only describe as dusty cranberry-ish. (I have yet to find a spice of the old or new world that is this color. And there may not be one. But keep in mind, the Antique Spice name comes from the same people who produce a shoe listed as Nutria, which could indicate either the color or the rodent leather from which it was made. Hard to tell without additional information.) The advantage of the clog is that it does not so brutally accentuate the toes in the way that the Arizona does (or, more extremely still, the Zurich). Less Baggins, more muffin-like in their aesthetic appeal.

    Also, Birkenstocks are available in narrow sizes. It turns out that unlike my early purchases, where I bought one size too small lest my forefoot absolutely swim in them, the narrow allows me to buy the proper length without all of the excess volume. Consequently, the narrow were much, much easier for me to break in. No, they aren’t really any sexier, but they are more like two wee loaves of bread instead of two muffins. Which feels sexier, at least to me.

    Moreover, with the advent of the soft footbed variety of Birk, you may have an easier time making friends with your new cork soles.

    Final note: the footbed will offer very strong opinions (although it may offer them softly, depending) about where your toes and arch belong. Try different sizes until you find an option that is well-suited to the anatomy of your very own foot. To do otherwise is to start an argument you will not win.

    Good Luck.

  • leighwhit

    Amelia-please report! Whaaa happened?! This piece came at an interesting time because I’ve also been struggling with the Birk or No Birk dilemma for a while. Reading this pushed me over the edge and I caved. They came today (overnight shipping, this is an emergency!) and I was reveling in their glory…then my husband came home , saw them, and said he wanted a divorce. Offered to buy me any pair of shoes with his personal funds if I would return them. Then he asked “who put you up to this, Manpeller?!” Busted.

  • ArgentineLisa

    I bought a pair of Black Birkenstock Clogs in Germany when I was 16… in 1992. I still have those same Birkenstocks and they have been re-soled 3x and a new footbed once. They are now due for another new sole. Not too bad for a shoe that is 22 years old and still looks brand new. I wear them everywhere.

    I will keep wearing them and treating them to a retreat at the “spa” for new parts every now and again and I am sure that these things will outlive me. I love them. The best $100 I’ve spent… wait a minute… probably closer to $300 in 22 years.

  • manler

    just do it. but if you must. go metallic.

  • amieK

    What a strange coincidence! Just yesterday I was looking at Birkenstocks online. I had absolutely no clue that Birkenstocks have become a trend, I was looking at them for purely practical reasons. I won’t repel the internetz with the unpleasant details, but a painful foot issue has recently manifested and my wee little piggies are in open rebellion against being stuffed into too narrow shoes. Flip flops aren’t a realistic solution in this climate, so I’ve been considering purchasing a pair of Birkenstock ‘Londons’, a full shoe style with a closed toe. They’re definitely clunky looking but comfort is the prime factor.

    I wore Birkenstocks all through the 90s and I still wear a pair of old ‘Bostons’ around the house. Right now, besides my trainers, flip flops and Bogs boots, the ‘Bostons’ are the only footwear that don’t cause tremendous pain. None of these are fashionable choices and it has grieved my girl heart to forsake all my cute flats and boots. Buying a new pair of Birkenstocks felt like giving up, until I read your post. I may be rather shallow, but now I feel that I can rock the Birks with confidence. I might even spring for a pair of ‘Gizehs’ once the weather warms up. I thank you and my piggies thank you!

  • Noel

    I say do it, but try the Italian version…Mephistos Helen Slide is much cuter and doesn’t make your feet look so big. Also, as a former Bay Area girl myself, I just couldn’t do the birks thing. Too many Ms Tufo like images, good and bad.

  • Sarah Burns

    You could start with a cheap pair, try them out and if you still love them, upgrade!

  • Kaali

    I hated the sweat stains on my Birkenstocks, and they’re actually not that comfortable. (The bumpy heels and shapes on the sandal did not fit my feet?)
    After 7 years having never even considered purchasing another pair now I regret throwing them away. Even the Olsens wore a (T-shaped) pair except that mine was (T-shaped) patent black. However, I would still never again buy another new pair of thick bottomed sandals; for flat sandals I would only buy those with “thin soles”. The thick ones may be more comfortable for cushions or for preventing pants dragging, but I just hate the heavy look. I hate those with saw-like slip-preventing bottoms even more. If I’m going for comfort, I can wear good-looking sneakers. (This personal preference is hard to explain in logic, because it’s ironic how I purchased wedge sneakers which also look heavy but I never buy creepers(?), those platform sneakers or boots… It’s not about being “feminine” for I also love men’s fashion for myself and “masculine designs” such as wide pants (without pleats!), and I even tailor men’s clothing for myself.)

  • I know! Totally understand the dilemma. I’m using my upcoming Asia trip as an excuse to invest in one but now I’m contemplating if I should just buy one from Zara since I can’t seem to find the originals in my size anywhere!! What to do??

  • TheRanta

    I love my Birks. I have wide, flat, size 7.5 little paddles for feet and they feel like a dream. I don’t do delicate heels because they look ridiculous on my feet (ain’t no Jimmy Choo or Manolo in my closet), and my wardrobe skews menswear-ish with bits of girlie stuff (lots of Rag & Bone, Equipment, and Isabel Marant Etoile here), and all of it works with Birks. Just go for it. Get a basic pair of black ones. They’re especially nice in the summer with a tent dress and a huge pair of sunglasses when you’re hungover and bloated and need to go out to buy Advil.

    • Michie Nakano

      That’s awesome. I just bought 2 pairs recently and I have been wearing them everywhere. I’m also wearing at home too. Just amazing this is still in a trend ever since I was in high school 25 years ago

  • Beetle

    I am a 59 year old Miami woman who has essentially worn nothing but Birkenstocks for nearly 30 years after visiting a podiatrist with foot pain and being told to wear nothing but Birkenstock or New Balance. I adore them and have had at least 100 pairs. I do have high arches and do find them comfortable right out of the box. I do wear them out. The conversion table for American vs. European sizes is way off for me. I wear a 35 or 36 normal (wide) in Birkenstocks and an American 7 or 7 1/2 normal/wide in New Balance. Supposedly I should be wearing a 37 Birkenstock but they are huge on me. I wore them to my office for 26 years before retiring and to any and all “dressy” events. There are lovely gold, silver, patent, and or beaded styles. And yes I am a hippie and men adore me and always have.

  • Dianne

    A few days ago I was diagnosed with the very painful plantar fasciitis, probably due to not wearing shoes while at home for the last 19 years. Dr. suggested that wearing Birkenstocks around the house would help give my feet more support than wearing slippers. Would the regular or soft foot bed be better for my foot condition? Thanks for any help!

  • Mel Shahen

    I just bought some and I have no regrets. Sure, they’re technically ugly and clunky but that’s on trend and I can’t help loving them. DO IT!

  • Better late than never, but never late is better. Leave it to Drake for insight he probably didn’t anticipate would resonate with my new Birkenstocks.

  • Rachel V

    How long do you think the Birkenstock trend will last? I’m going through the same debate of whether or not I should buy a pair of classic Birkenstocks. They are expensive and I don’t want to buy them to find out that in three months they are out.
    Any advice?

    – Rachel V

  • Mark

    The truth about Birkenstock. If you have a low arch or are flat footed, you have to take baby steps. Start off by wearing them around the house while doing chores for a couple of hours, then take a break. Repeat for a week and take longer durations from there.If it takes more or less time , then so be it. If you have normal or high arches, they will more than likely be comfortable immediately. Either way, the shoes are not necessarily being broken in, they are simply taking the shape of your feet. So….if someone asks to borrow them, politely turn them down as they are quite a personal shoe!! I am a Birki enthusiast of 25 years. I hope this alleviates some of your concerns.

  • SassySouthAfrican

    I have been wearing Birkenstocks for ever and will not stop because i believe in comfort and health above looking cute and uncomfortable plus i think they look awesome and always feel great in them.

  • Jesus Christ! They are horrendous! I’d rather use Havaianas! Confy, sexy and beautiful.

  • Anna-Maria Ivstedt

    Birk’s are amazing so comfy and lovely. Ive got a pair of Arizona in shiny patent black, never regret buying them! <3

  • Alan King

    I wore them for 2 summers and was perfectly happy then after a 4 year break they were the only shoes I took on a weeks holiday, however I had gained 2 stone in weight (28 pounds) and I was virtually crippled by day 3. Every step was agony weight and Birkenstocks don’t go together.

  • KC

    Just make sure to douse yourself in pachuli oil and don’t bother to shave your legs. Yes, they are comfortable – at least they were when I wore them in college in 1989. They are ugly and not stylish and they certainly do make a statement. That statement to me is just 1989-1992 Sonoma county hippy.

    My husband wears a pair with a dreaded back strap. Just bought my college kid a pair without at least. Mine retired in 1995 and will not return.

  • I bought a pair from Primark for £10 and wore them for a bit. Great but not really workable in London. Waiting for summer so I can wear for those 2 days of summer once again.

  • Commentycomment

    They don’t take long to get used to and they are better for your feet and posture – I love mine and wear them with cute summer dresses, jeans and have worn my black pair with a long evening dress which elicited some serious foot envy from women in heels – buy them, you can always wear them indoors if you want x

  • Simona Gorjan

    I was struggling with this inner turmoil myself, until I just admitted to myself that no, I don’t want to spend that much money on a sandal, and yes, I really do want them cause they pretty (and I mean that in the most non-ironic sense possible). So I bought a cheap rip-off (is it shamefull if I say they were under 20 dollars? Ups.) that looks like a motherf*cking original, and thus the love affair was born.

  • Paola Denice

    I had the same internal struggle until I remembered how long they’ve been around. Buuut just in case I lost interest I bought a cheaper pair. I have no regrets.

  • tamara winawer

    Buy them in gold or silver as a gateway, lol. That being said, you will also need black Arizonas. Then you will feel a surprising and inexplicable need for white.

  • cassie

    omg, i am the queen of ugly fashion, i just embrace it. 100%, you have to get them before summer starts. i’m already ordering another pair.

  • Natalia Guerra

    they’re the comfiest!!! i bought a pair when i was travelling in europe (lots of walking) and i have three pairs now. they might not be the prettiest, but they are the comfiest and if you style them up with a floral dress or something cute, you’ll be ok

  • claritt

    Im the shmuck that bought the 850$ Givenchy floral pair (for fashion and function, they happen to be super comfortable) and im HOPING this trend comes back so i dont look like a fool wearing them… In all honesty, most people think theyre totally heinous anyways- if your into it, get em! i got a ton of use out of mine!

  • Amanda L.

    Do it. I first asked my parents for a pair for Christmas when I was a junior in high school, and then when I didn’t get them, I straddled the fence for the longest time and finally bought a pair four years after that sad Christmas.

    That was two years ago. I still wear mine all the time, and plan to keep wearing them into eternity.

  • ChristenaR

    There is a reason they have been around since 1774. Consider it like the perfect white shirt, the black jacket you wear with trousers OR jeans….and stick with the classic Arizona – I find them the most comfortable. (The white is super fun for summer, the metallics don’t wear well)

  • Katie N.

    Two years later and I just bought a pair. I went with the pair Ashley or Mary-kate is wearing in the slideshow because they’re less jesus sandal looking. Really hope you didn’t wait as long as I did. I hate the look so much, but they pay back in comfort ten fold.

  • motanja

    Hi Amelia, please put your carrot down, I had the same dilemma last week about purchasing my second pair of Birken cause my old ones worked well just for my hillbilly hobbit walks, but I ended up with this model from Mango. They are made of real leather, comfy, cheaper then Birkenstock, silly enough to satisfy my needs for this season and hopefully to save my lazy summer “no-effort” style. Plus ☞ these are making my legs look leaner.

  • I can’t wear much else for shoes, and I do enjoy walking outside and going to work. So I have embraced them and search out the wonkiest, craziest ones I can find.
    Which led me to Trippen.

  • Rene Alexis Penaloza Munoz

    It doesn’t matter what you wear, the beauty will not be on the clothes or the shoes or whatever. If you feel unattractive because of one item of clothing then the problem is certainly in your mind. Sounds like some kind of minor trauma got ingrained into your psyche like suspenders and old men with big ugly bellies got stuck in my mind lol.

  • Sujana Raj Gurung

    Hi Amelia, I have been going through the same thing for the past four years. Every time I come close to getting it, I shudder at the thought of spending so much on a pair of “casual” sandals. Although, I know secretly, I would love them and will not leave home without them, once I get a pair.
    Additionally, as I live in India, the sandals are even harder to come by.

  • Suraiya Ali

    Okay i don’t get why people act like this towards Birkenstocks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them. I got my first pair of Gizeh’s at 9 and i’ve gotten a lot more since then. They’re comfortable and I always get compliments. Keep in mind that these are ACTUALLY made of great quality and last very long , i’d rather spend money on a pair of Birkenstock Gizehs than splurge on an unattractive pair of “trendy” shoes that only last one season because people think it’s “cool”. I’m not trying to be negative, I genuinely do not see any problems with Birkenstocks and i’m baffled by how people put them down. Why , because they’re not heels that elongate your legs and make you look like an ostrich ? Sorry I missed the rule where it states that we all have to be long and lanky . Birkenstocks don’t make you look slouchy , if you do slouch however , then fix your posture maybe . I will say however that the only style I wear are the Gizehs, I think they’re the most wearable and attractive , other than that I couldn’t care less about the other styles. So, give Birkenstocks a try , I promise you , it’s all in your head .

  • Kathy Cervantes

    Ohh Amelia, I haven’t laughed this hard in a looooong time. I’ve been forced to consider these “Jesus” shoes and I swore I would NEVER!!! As I’ve hit my 43rd bday I now have issues with my footsies. After 20+ years of wearing super sexy heels and tight pointy flats I am forced to seek out comfort shoes. Oh how I wish I would have known and worn these years ago. Now it’s too late!!! Well I tried them on in the store today for the first time (by the way they were completely sold out except for some super large size 11) but oh my!!! They felt amazing. Well if they’re good enough for Jesus they are good enough for me : )