3.03.2014

foundations: the chic guide to wearing Birkenstocks

via Vogue UK

in light of the the comfy-chic movement, 2013 was The Year of the Birks. love them or hate them – they're longtime wardrobe foundations in my book.

here are my tips on how to choose and wear birks in a minimalist chic way.

1. the shoe – you can't go wrong with the classic arizonas (also herehere and here) or gizehs. both offer the most stylish simplicity and functional comfort of the entire birkenstock lineup.

wearing my gizehs in 2012. // simple silk cami + slouchy jeans + birks = the perfect travel outfit

2. the color – choose black or white. think modern, monochrome, vintage Kate, Celine-esque.

iconic: young Kate + birks by Corinne Day

3. the material – i prefer the leather or patent leather birks over the synthetic (birko-flor, birkubuc) versions. black suede birks are much easier to style than taupe/brown versions, which tend to look a lot more 'granola'. it's all about sleek/clean lines here.

4. the styling – neutrals, monochrome and clean lines work best. i'm really into wearing mine with black on black on black, but a flowing, feminine dress would also provide a nice counterpoint.

Ashley Olsen: a fan of arch support
via tumblr

5. the footbed – birks come in two footbed versions: regular and soft. i have the regular gizehs and a pair of the soft-footbed arizonas. the regular footbed takes a little breaking in and getting used to, but will mold to your feet wonderfully in time. the soft footbed is cushier, with a slight memory-foam-like give that requires no breaking in. it's also a bit more expensive than the regular version, and the leather uppers are softer as well. i find both very comfortable; it just depends on your personal preference and foot/arch needs.

6. the sizingbirks run large and wide, so size down and go with the 'N'/narrow width if your foot is a narrow-regular width. i wear a 6.5 US/37 EU, so my birkenstock size is always a 36 N (even though the birk size chart states the 36 = 5/5.5).

i hope this is helpful if you're just getting into birks. from a wardrobe longevity (and foot health) perspective, they're the epitome of reasonably priced, ergonomic, well-made sandals that will last for years. (P.S.: if you do end up wearing out the soles, an authorized birkenstocks repair shop can replace them with brand new footbed/soles.)

what's your stance on birks? do you have a favorite pair / how do you wear them?

8 comments:

  1. I have a pair of brown patent leather Gizehs that I bought when I lived in Germany (they're significantly less expensive there, I think I paid $45). I prefer wearing them with summer dresses - many years ago Scott Schuman posted a shot of a woman in a delicate just-above-the-knee sun dress + light scarf + Gizehs that has guided my styling ever since. Generally I switch to brownish neutrals for summer footwear because they offer less contrast with tanned summer skin (that and I just don't wear black outside of F/W). Although after looking at your inspiration photos, I'm wanting to pick up a black patent pair to wear a la Ashley.

    To extend the life of the cork itself, you should reseal it when the cork finish changes from shiny to matte. Birkenstock sells its own sealant, but I use a nondescript brand I bought on Amazon.

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  2. LOVE the Birkenstock revival. I have a pair of Birkenstock-ish sandals from back when I had a summer job in home care for the elderly and they are the comfiest sandals ever. Kicking myself for not bringing them with me to NY last summer, I would have been so ahead of the curve ;)

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  3. I bought some talian equivalent of the Birkenstock Gizeh a couple of years ago in Greece, and they always get a lot of wear during the summer.

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  4. I am all about it- I have been wearing a pair of black patent Gizehs and am ready to fully commit to the look with a pair of Arizonas. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I'd be wearing Birkenstocks again, I'd have thought you lost your mind. Dr. Martens also suddenly look good again, to my eye- thinking of getting an oxblood patent pair to wear as "going out" shoes during snow (almost as indestructible as Sorels but slightly less clunky).

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  5. I grew up in Germany so I have been wearing Birkenstocks for close to 40 years now - they were real comfort shoes though back in the days and I found it quiet funny when they all of a sudden became the latest thing.... probably a bit how Australians feel about the rise of the UGG Boot.... however.... they are still my favorite summer sandal for running around all day and travel - the Gizehs don't fit my feet well and the Arizonas are for me a bit too clumpy - my favorites are the black Madrids - and I love the vegan Birko-Flor material

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  6. I haven't had a pair of Birkenstocks in a long while. That Mary Kate photo is convincing me to get a new pair.

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  7. I'd love some extra tips on sizing the Arizonas. I'm a US 7 / EU 37 andwear a regular width although my feet are slightly narrow. Would you still recommend I size down and get the narrow size of 36 N, or should I stick with 37 N? Thanks in advance!

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    Replies
    1. i wear 36.5/37 EU and i always get the 36N in birks, and my feet are normal to slightly narrow width. hope that helps!

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