It’s one of those big fashion dilemmas that all of us will face at one time or another. On the one hand, we want to be comfortable. We have busy lives, valuable time, and more important things to worry about than whether our arches are aching or our heels are going to get stuck in brick streets until we fall on our faces. On the other hand, we want to look good. It sucks to see a beautiful pair of shoes at the mall, fall passionately in love with them, and know that they’re going to drive us crazy the whole time we’re wearing them.
When someone hears the word” Birkenstock,” what usually comes to mind are 60’s, long-haired girls. Nonetheless, Birkenstock has become a staple for a fashionable modern woman. The Birkenstock has re-vamped itself. After this winter’s Céline’s fur-lined Birkenstock from elevated the grandma shoe to ultimate glam, we realize that they’re not only is uber-comfortable but a must for our summer wardrobe in order to be fashionable. Fashion powerhouses like Givenchy, Giambattista Valli, Céline, and Marni re-invented it, proving that comfort never looked so chic.
Personally, I make different choices on different days. If I have PMS or a blister from working out, there’s no way in hell I’m wearing anything that doesn’t feel like an enchanted pillow on my feet. If I need a pick-me-up or to feel confident in a big meeting, though, I’m all about the heels. I think a lot of my fellow ladies feel the same way. But here’s the REAL question: How do we feel about ultra-comfy shoes that are just flat-out… ugly?
It seems like every single season; someone comes up with a new design that’s supposed to be the ~ultimate solution~ for the bad reputation of comfortable shoes. Sketchers put out a line a few months ago that is supposed to look like cute boat shoes despite actually being grandma shoes. TOMS are trying to reinvent themselves by being available at cheaper prices and in more convenient places. People are trying, and I appreciate that. But we still haven’t really nailed it. Shoes that hurt are still hot. Shoes that feel good still look bad.
So I’m wondering, dear Blufashion readers, what you think. Do you wear Crocs? Or Birkenstocks? Or any of the other classic ugly-but-comfy shoes? Do you think they’re worth it? Do you actually like the way they look? I’m interested in knowing. Drop us a comment below to tell us how you feel, and maybe we can solve this mystery together, once and for all.
First of all, I hate most of these shoes and how they look. I just do.
That said, I am planning on finally buying Crocs because my feet hurt all the time, and they actually have a few decent options (they just choose to continue producing really ugly ones, too).
My mom and I both have awfully high arches in our feet, and it makes them hurt all day, so flats suck, boots suck, and heels suck to wear–even with insoles a lot of the time. I think the health of your feet and their comfort far outweigh the importance of looking good, so I’m all for people wearing these if they need to.
ETA: Except with socks.
Charmless: “Crocs makes some very cute rubber flats that I considered when I was looking for poolside shoes. I opted for a pair of cheap jellies instead, but I wouldn’t have thought the others were Crocs if I hadn’t seen the label.”
Gemma Kim: “I like wearing Birkenstocks outside of the city. They’re comfy. And I don’t have that same repulsion that others have for Birkenstocks.”
Heather: “I have never been tempted to wear Birkenstocks, with or without socks. I didn’t mind the gazillion dollar Givenchy ones paired with $$$$ designer sportswear.”
Elizabeth: “I adore my Birkenstocks. This summer, I was looking for sandals I could walk in forever that didn’t hurt and wouldn’t fall apart, and when it came down to Merrils that were not aggressively ugly but also not nice looking and Birkenstocks, which are, well, Birkenstocks, I went with the “these are so ugly that obviously, it is an intentional choice” option. Fuck the haters.”
Sarah: “I have extraordinarily wide and square feet (seriously, they’re wider than most men’s feet), which makes cute skinny shoes physically impossible to even put on, let alone wear comfortably.
Crocs are too weirdly sweaty, but I have definitely reveled in Keen, Birk, and wider Tom’s knockoff trends in summertimes past. Winters are really rough because seemingly no company is making truly wide footwear anymore. (I have a pair of black Merrell leather boots, but even though they’re in size “wide,” they’re not wide enough though the length is right.) Diss ugly shoes all you like, but for some of us, they’re literally all we can wear.”
Charmless: “I judge Crocs clogs the same way I do flip-flops: there is a very narrow window of places that you can wear them without looking silly.”
“For some reason, Birks get more of a pass than other ugly shoes. I’d buy a pair of Birkenstock-style sandals to try out a look if I liked the way a blogger or celebrity had styled them.”
Sarah: “I have a seriously cute pair of thong-style Birkenstocks. Not ugly at all. This is only the second pair I’ve owned since I was 14 because they hold up so well. I love my crocs when I’m gardening. Easy to hose off. But I don’t wear them anywhere else.”
Elyne: “I wear ugly black slip-ons currently, but they are comfortable. My feet hurt after about a 100m walk with even 5 cm heels. I really don’t have many other options. I envy people who can wear high heels so much. No crocs here, but I do have their flip-flops, though. They are pretty comfortable and of decent quality.”
Dani Eaton: “I fell madly in love with my first pair of Birkenstock’s this July. I, too, have high arches and was experiencing so much pain in my feet. I wore the Birks for a day, and the pain went away. I also started doing Baptiste Power yoga and developed and strengthened the muscles in my feet. It has helped a whole hell of a lot.”
Marie: “I will wear my Dansko’s until someone pries them off by cold, dead feet. They are ugly, expensive, and did I mention hideous? But I love them. I bought them as a Christmas present for myself last year, and they changed my life. I’m a PA in an ER, so when I’m at work, I’m always on my feet, and my knees/feet/back were always killing me until I bought Dansko’s. And they “work” with both my scrubs and the occasion that I have to wear dress clothes to work bc they are shiny and have swirly patterns on them.”
“But I never wear them outside of work. And I secretly judge people when they tell me my shoes are cute.”
Sydney: “I have Birks, and I didn’t think they were that ugly! They just reminded me of summer camp.”
“But I think you can find a happy medium. I think the Dr. Scholl line is super comfortable, and you can find some cute styles! I actually get compliments on them all the time from all sorts of people. So I go to them or Cole Haan (back when they had the Nike Air, which I don’t know that they do anymore?) for comfortable and not hideous flats/heels.”
“Boots, I find Frye’s very comfortable, so I wear them.”
“Flip flops are terrible for your feet, so this summer, I just went with Topsiders for shoes that were lightweight, cute, and kept my feet away from the mysterious puddles on the subways.”
“I think inserts go a long way to making uncomfortable shoes comfortable, though.”
Anne Marie Hawkins: “It’s all about appropriateness: Crocs are ok for a grocery run but less so for casual Friday. But then I frequently wear ugly shoes, so I’m probably not a great judge. I have a really hard time walking in skinny heels, so the return of the stacked heel has been good for me. But up until recently, my work shoedrobe was all ugly, sensible flats. I mean, once I had to walk from Penn Station to the Javitts, in a suit, in the rain, carrying my suitcase, and anything but those ugly, sensible flats would have been a nightmare.”
Linda Lyon: “My daughters hate my Ugg boots and my flats. I aspire to a pair of Birkenstocks, which they forbid me to buy. But when I’m not at work or out socially, I adooooore comfy shoes. I don’t care what they look like. Unless they’re crocs, which are only good for gardening.”
Zele: “Have you looked at New Balance’s Aravon’s or Ros Hommerson? EasyB also makes cute shoes. They have all types of sizes, even wide, look cute, and are comfortable. They may have shoes for high insteps too.”
LittleBird: “If it’s on purpose for a “look,” I say NO. If you’re actually on your feet all day or mucking out manure after birth, or gardening, or whatever, then ok. Wear those comfy, practical clogs nurses have or some crocs.”
Iskra Banović is our seasoned Editor-in-Chief at BlueFashion. She has been steering the website’s content and editorial direction since 2013. With a rich background in fashion design, Iskra’s expertise spans across fashion, interior design, beauty, lifestyle, travel, and culture.