An Honest Discussion About Birkenstocks
Big announcement over here—and let it be known that I type this with a mixture of fear and joy—I think I’m ready for my second pair of Birkenstock sandals.
My first pair? Aw, thanks for asking. I was probably about 16 or 17, slightly anti-Establishment, on a vacation with my family to the peaceful little town of Galena, Illinois. I don’t know what came over me on that vacation—maybe all the perfect white houses and softly falling snow exacerbated my inner hippie—but when I found a pair of suede Birkenstock clogs in a local store, I snatched them up immediately.
I don’t know where those crunchy clogs ended up, because I haven’t had them for years. I do know, however, that I wore them to threads. And now that the Birkenstock is back—or “back,” said with a certain degree of skepticism—I’m starting to feel more and more like it’s time for pair #2.
Surely you’ve noticed that the “ugly sandal” is a trend today, thanks partially to some serious Free People styling and thanks partially to what I can only refer to as Coachella culture (you know, all things crunchy-lite). But maybe the most compelling reason to believe that Birkenstocks are fashionable in a serious way is the fact that a lot of famous people have picked up on the trend.
This iconic photo of Kate Moss in Birkenstocks is probably what started the fashion world’s reluctant obsession. You can hate Birks with all your heart and soul, but you can’t deny that Kate looks like the epitome of casual summer youth here, WHICH IS ALL ANY OF US HAVE EVER WANTED.
Birkenstocks have also been spotted, more than once, on the Olsen twins—and everybody knows those two are in charge of the fashion laws of the land. And the sandals have been seen even more recently—as in, this month—on verified It Girl Dree Hemingway. At this point, who are we to protest their triumphant return?
A life truth: it is really, really easy to make the Birkenstock ugly. If you don’t pair it with just the right je ne sais quoi (in other words, a perfectly beachy/pulled-together outfit with cuffed jeans and devil-may-care hair), you will look like an aging hippie or something dragged out from the Salvation Army castaway bin. Wearing them with socks is a huge no, and personally, I think anything other than the classic Arizona silhouette is a big mistake. Colors, on the other hand, I’m willing to negotiate. Maybe.
We all know that the Birkenstock is not for the faint of heart or the un-experimental of wardrobe, but that’s why owning a pair puts you in such a cool—if kinda weird and questionable—club. So...should I take the plunge again?