The words “Birkenstocks” and “stylish” are not mutually exclusive. Yes, Birkenstocks have a reputation for being popular among hippies and German tourists, but they have developed something of a renaissance in popularity and new sales among young and old alike. How is this possible? We’d need to examine what keeps drawing people back to them again and again….
Are they really comfortable? Yes, they are. They have had a reputation over the years for being less than attractive, but the comfort makes up for style. And these days, there are all sorts of variants on each style (as well as a few new styles). We’ll get to style shortly. But for now, what makes them so comfortable? It’s all about the footbed.
Birkenstocks have two distinct types of foot beds: the regular Birkenstock footbed, and the Soft Birkenstock footbed. They have many features in common, but the biggest difference between the two foot beds is that the soft one contains a foam layer between the top layer of the footbed and the layers of cork and jute that make up the rest of the footbed. If you like cushioning in your sandals, you might want to look into models with the soft footbed. If you don’t care about cushioning so much but really require support, either footbed would work well for you.
Features of both foot beds include: a wide toe box so that your toes have room to move, a raised toe bar to encourage the natural gripping motion of your feet while improving circulation, a contoured footbed to support all of the arches of your feet and provide even weight distribution, high sides and a deep heel cup to help keep your feet from pronating, a shock absorbent sole, a latex and cork footbed that molds to your feet for a custom fit, and jute fibers to wick away moisture and add strength. So yes, they are indeed comfortable.
But what about style? The uppers aren’t just variants of brown leather anymore. You can get uppers with patent leather, snake skin patterns, nubuck in a variety of colors, and even Birko-Flor ™, which is a soft fabric with a leather-like feel (made of acrylic and polyamide felt fibers).
So how do you style Birkenstocks (meaning, how do you incorporate them into your wardrobe)? For men, this is pretty straightforward: wear them with any casual clothing. They work well with or without socks, although I would recommend you wear them with socks only when you wear long pants just for aesthetics. One of the most popular styles is the Birkenstock Arizona. I have numerous friends who won’t wear any other type of shoe because they are so easy to wear.
Women, the sky is the limit as to how to best add them to your repertoire. I personally think that any of the Birkenstocks look best with maxi skirts or dresses. You get all the casual comfort as well as having these coordinate well with those types of outfits. If you are looking for a feminine look, consider the Gizeh, the Granada, any models with thinner straps, or models with light-colored uppers. Birkenstocks always look great with shorts or jeans; just wear socks when you are wearing long pants or a long skirt.
Don’t forget that Birkenstock shoes, Birkenstock sandals, and other products are all available online at footwearetc.com!