Birkenstocks Tolerable, not Trendy

Rachel Jin, Staff Writer

Since I adopted the “I don’t care and I want to go home” fashion mantra upon my enrollment in high school, my list of “shoes that I can tolerate” has expanded significantly; unfortunately, Birkenstocks have yet to be added to that list.

I was first introduced to these Timberland/Nike-Slides hybrids at the age of 10 by an early episode of The Office, when Dwight wears a pair of Birks to a karaoke party. I thought nothing of it; his wearing of outdated German attire isn’t exactly news.

When I realized that the shoes were making more frequent appearances on campus however, I was shocked.

It’s strange, because this year, I’ve become quite accepting of the “ugly shoe trend” — in particular, lug heels — which allowed fashionistas to replace their shoe closet of towering Alaïas and Christian Louboutins for chunky platforms and 80’s style oversized straps. Though not the traditional polished beauties the runways saw back in 2008, the quirky pieces, skyscraper height, and unique features combine to make an object of inexplicable beauty. In fact, at the top of my covet list are the black Prada platform sandals I’ve spent hours searching for online.

Unfortunately, my love for the trend only goes as far as the vintage, 6 inch tall gems that are lug-soled heels. Birkenstocks, with their flat cork soles and thick buckled straps, are, to me, not so much a piece of fashion history as just history. The earthy designs are what I would imagine in which Biblical characters shuffle across the desert as they lead their camels through the sand.

Defenders of the Birkenstock may argue that they add a casual spin to an outfit. “I think it’s so much more sexy to be slightly underdressed, like you’re not trying too hard,”said Vogue editor Jorden Bickham in an interview with Vogue magazine.

I think Birkenstocks are risky accessories, though. The shoe, when styled improperly (which it often is), can turn a cool, put together outfit into an unfashionably mismatched one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater of the shoe itself. In fact, I think models Kate Moss and Miranda Kerr look better in them than most girls look in heels. Still, I hold to the belief that a trend pulled off by a particular person with a particular outfit wouldn’t necessarily be universally chic with any outfit of the day.

But, hey, if you’re really passionate about the trend, wear it with pride. Instead of relying on your other pieces to tie your look together, let your confidence to wear the awkward shoe be what makes your outfit trendy.

And if you’re new to Birkenstocks and want to give them a test run, there are countless ways you can pull them off while still looking trend-acceptable. Pair the brand’s signature strappy kicks with a moto jacket and distressed boyfriend jeans for a street-chic look, or a loose black shift dress with a statement necklace and neon clutch for a dressier occasion.

Alternatively, if you find yourself caught in a fashion fiasco during a professional situation, throw on a polished navy short suit with the shoes, and you’re guaranteed to get compliments from at least two Brooklyn natives.

Or, maybe you’re like me and too lazy to look put together everyday, so you choose to slip on what are basically the equivalent of sweatpants for your feet.

Or are sweatpants just ‘stocks for your legs? I’ll let you decide that one.