It has been six years since Phoebe Philo had her models strutting down the runway in Birkenstocks lined with fur, sending the fashion world into an instant frenzy. It was official: Birkenstocks had made a comeback. The "ugly sandal," once reviled for its chunky build and for being worn by sock-donning titos, were stylish again, as evidenced by celebrities and style bloggers around the world.
Since making their ubiquitous return in 2013, Birkenstocks have been dominating the shoe game. But this year, the pairs have once again started flying off the shelves, proving that they’re indeed here to stay. And with good reason: They’re seriously comfortable and versatile! When styled right, they give off an effortlessly chic vibe.
What Is the Ugly Shoe Trend?
After the fashion world turned its back on it, the "ugly shoe" made a resurgence in 2013, becoming one of the most popular trends of the decade. Chunky "dad sneakers" and Birkenstock sandals became cool again thanks to the normcore movement, A.K.A. an obsession with "normal" clothes and minimalist gear: Think Steve Jobs and the Gap! Among these clunky footwear fads, the Birks have become a mainstay for their streamlined look, worn by practically everyone on the street and even in outdoor festivals. Now, they've taken a sportier spin, especially since the age of athleisure took over our closets.
Prada, Spring 2017
Gucci, Cruise 2019
Miu Miu, Spring 2019
How to Wear Birkenstock Sandals
Below, check out the many ways you can wear your Birkenstock sandals:
1. Cropped top and distressed jeans
One of the most classic ways to wear your Birkenstock sandals is with a cropped top and distressed jeans, perfect for a road trip or even when you’re just hitting up your local mall. Casual, stylish, and comfortable, your Birkenstocks would add a nonchalant flair to your ripped jeans’ rugged look. You can’t go wrong with this style move!
2. Floral dress or skirt
You can always count on a breezy floral wrap dress paired with Birkenstock sandals. Put together, they’re rustic, feminine, and charming—and with an oversized straw hat and wicker purse, they make for a perfect outdoorsy outfit!
Channel some sweet bohemian vibes by pairing that breezy floral maxi dress with those Birkenstocks. The sandals dress down the dress' frilly look, while playing into the whole laidback aesthetic with its signature cork sole. Pair with a polished mini satchel and some accessories for a great first-date look!
3. Denim jacket and shorts
Birkenstocks look their best dressed down, and this outfit aims for total comfort. It's perfect for exploring new towns and places, so they make for a great travel footwear. Dress for sunny days in a linen top and shorts, and throw on a denim jacket in case it suddenly gets chilly.
Cop that summer girl feel and plan your next weekend's OOTD on the way to the beach. A flirty sun dress that fits and flares in the right places will look chill and laidback with a pair of sandals.
You can also go for a looser, more billowy option that ends just by your thighs for a more relaxed and chic look that will earn you instant style points!
4. Long print dress
This is about as easy and as low-maintenance as you can get without compromising style. Slip into a long jersey dress and your Birkenstock sandals for a hot afternoon. If you’re running errands, you’ll want an outfit that helps you maximize your every movement, so this is the perfect outfit for accomplishing tasks such as grocery shopping, paying the bills, or even visiting your local weekend market.
Getting lost in a foreign town by foot? Look adorably touristy and prepare your feet for all the pavement pounding by opting for these comfortable sandals. The plaid dress and boater hat combo has its own rustic and vintage charm.
5. Wide-leg pants and a top tucked in
Birkenstocks can look good paired with practically anything, but wearing them under wide-leg pants gives them a more relaxed appeal. This minimalist style—plain tee tucked in trousers, with a jacket draped on—deserves extra cool points.
Take on a more relaxed appearance by wearing pieces in loose, breathable fabric such as cotton and linen. Check out this buttoned top tucked in paperbag palazzo pants, plus an oversized cardigan.
Got a printed T-shirt you want to spruce up? Pair them with culottes and a ponytail for a quick yet stylish coffee run outfit!
Sandals and overalls are a match made in heaven. Add some frills to this utilitarian piece by donning a white ruffled top that pairs nicely with your footwear.
Meanwhile, here’s another chic take on the ensemble: Play with contrasts, like wearing a black tee under white overalls and finishing off the look with nude, suede sandals. Adorable knitted hat, optional!
It may seem like a small detail, but pairing your sandals and outfit in a monochromatic look makes all the difference. The leather backpack in tan stands out against this LBD and black slip-ons.
Ditto for this one when you want to go all white, like this frilly mini dress paired with white sandals—a great look for a bright summer day.
Look electric in the tropical heat by pairing your swimwear and sandals! The neon hue makes the outfit really stand out!
8. With socks
We know what you’re thinking: This is about the last thing you would want to wear those sandals with, as it’s this controversial pairing that gave Birkenstocks its former bad reputation. Pair them well, however, and you’ve got an adorable OOTD that screams total comfort!
Going somewhere cooler or up north? Take advantage of the weather and layer up. The trick is to have your sweater and socks match in similar shades. Of course, bright colors should call for a muted shoe: Think nude.
Pass up on chunky socks and go for thinner, slimmer ones that follow your foot’s contour and can be easily tucked in or out of leggings. This streetwear-inspired outfit is all about comfort and we’re here for it!