As one who makes a living out of writing about fashion and keeps a blog about style choices, I get daily reactions from people about different trends. And really, the vibe is usually pretty light and positive. I guess no one feels THAT strongly against graphic printed sweatshirts that they feel compelled to write me hate mail over it. The people who love them are all like “Aw, yeah, sweatshirts!” and the people that don’t are all like “Aaanyway…I think I’ll go make myself a cup of coffee…” But then Birkenstocks happened. Or, rather, re-happened. And suddenly, you guys, I sensed a bit of controversy on my blog and Twitter account. I Instagrammed a picture of my new, bright white Birks and boom. I’m getting comments like “Omg, I can’t believe you’re wearing those!” and “I would never!” and, my personal favorite for its powerful directness, “NO.”
Where’s the love, people? Where’s the respect for things that are different? Where’s the care for your poor arches that are being crammed into sadistic six-inch heels? (I wear ‘em, too, not trying to hate, but let’s admit they’re not that pleasant, shall we?) Trust me, I get it. No one is more surprised than me that I’m wearing Birkenstocks – and often! I spent years cringing and judging, and feeling ridiculously confident that my feet would never, ever touch a pair.
Now, I’m what you could call a reformed fashion victim. When I first got into fashion as a life calling, I just bought and wore whatever was in trend, and usually both felt and looked pretty silly. I have really and truly stopped doing that and have never looked back. I love fashion and keeping up on trends, and do find favorites each season that I certainly shop, but for every trend I wear and love dearly, there are two I hate and avoid like the plague. But something about this season’s “ugly shoe,” “mandal” craze got me, even though it’s not a very me trend. My style falls somewhere in the range of downtown, punkish feminine, so I didn’t expect to fall for the rudimentary silhouettes of the sandals from Celine, Marni and Jil Sander. But fall I did, and hard.
The problem is that those runway mandals are upwards of $600, usually more like $800. I’m not ready to invest that much cash in a trend that could be fleeting and that I could wake up tomorrow totally over. What to do? That’s when I saw it. A spread on one of my favorite sites, Moda Operandi. Beautiful, ethereal white dresses paired with white Birkenstocks. I heard angels playing harps, little animated blue birds landed on my shoulder singing “Birkenstocks, Birkenstocks!” Who knew?! I found a new pair on eBay for just $40, and we’ve been happy together ever since.
Do you know how good it feels to wear such blissfully comfortable shoes when you’re used to torture devices? When it comes to “fashion-forward” footwear, even flats can be shockingly painful. In Birks, you can be spontaneous – maybe your day will end up with tons of walking, and it’s okay! You don’t have to pack sneakers and/or flip flops. You’re good to go, wherever the day takes you. I mean, short of anywhere there’s snow or something. With that molded arch in the sole, you feel like you’re doing something good for your feet, reversing years of stiletto damage, and maybe you won’t have to switch to orthopedic shoes by forty. The best part? They’re cool. Seriously, Birk haters, open your mind and feel the glory of comfort. Lucky Magazine’s new editor, Eva Chen, declared them cool. Into the Gloss just wrote this post, nodding to their on-trend factor. The tastemakers have spoken. It’s okay to want to clunk around town in these heavenly hippie-chic sandals.
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to styling them (in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re hauling your tomato crop to the nearest farmer’s market), just look to the pros. Into the Gloss cited a famous photo of Kate Moss that can basically work as a style-by-number look. Check out street style blogs and see how you can wear Birks with flouncy dresses and sleek, sporty skirts. Go forth, my fashion fans, save your cab fare and take the long walk home.
You can read more from Courtney Iseman on her blog.