The first time I saw Birkenstocks on the feet of someone fashionable was while waiting in line to get into the BCBG show at New York Fashion Week last September. The woman (who looked familiar but I’ve never been able to put a finger on who she was), had on a flowy, bright-white pants and top, and white, patent-leather Birkenstocks. I’ll admit she looked chic, but I as soon as I saw her I also had this very dramatic “DUN DUN DUN….they’re baa-aaaack” moment, because really, I dislike Birkenstocks. As a shoe, they’re just fundamentally unattractive. And they remind me of middle school, when I was also fundamentally unattractive.
After the sighting, I even promptly tweeted:
A month or so later when I saw a spread on them in Marie Claire, I publicly reaffirmed my dislike.
Except now…like a lot of ugly or unflattering fashion trends–Uggs, skinny jeans, nail art–this one has kiiiiiiiind of started to grow on me.
Worn in the right context, they’re actually kind of almost OK.
I still don’t personally own a pair of Birkenstocks … maybe it’s because I grew up in New England, but I can’t help but feel like a college professor from Vermont when I try them on…. but if you don’t suffer from the same association …. here are a few of the actually kind of almost OK ways to wear them, along with a few definite DONTs.
1. With an all white or all black outfit. A la the mystery woman from fashion week. All white or all black basics + Birkenstocks = a chic look with a boho twist.
2. With “edgy” pieces. Historically, Birkenstocks have been associated with hippies and, well, Vermont. So pairing them with pieces that are completely on the opposite end of the style spectrum, like skinny leather pants as Sincerely Jules does below, makes them seem modern and cutting edge.
See also, these girls:
3. The casual way. The one thing that truly makes Birkenstocks a good summer shoe is the fact that they’re comfortable. Pairing them with denim cutoffs and a button down, or a cotton sundress with a chambray shirt throw over it looks cool and easy.
Now for the DONTs:
1. I shouldn’t have to tell you this. But don’t ever wear Birkenstocks with socks, like in the Marie Claire photo above. Models can get away with this. The rest of us will just look bad, bad, bad.
2. Be cautious about wearing them with boyfriend jeans. Celebrities and models can get away with it, but IRL, it’s too easy to cross the line into frumpy territory.
3. Don’t wear them with maxi dresses, unless you want to look like you’re going to Woodstock.
Think you’re on board with the trend? Shop the look here:
Hate it? Discuss in the comments section.