Your favourite camp, cottage and socks-with-sandals shoe is now in fashion. Called ugly-chic, the movement towards wearing orthopaedic, utilitarian sandals is making looking trendy very comfortable.
For two years in a row, Birkenstocks-inspired sandals have walked the runways in spring fashion shows, and now retailers like J.Crew and luxury online shopping destination Net-A-Porter.com are selling the classic hippie staples. Even the pint-sized fashion moguls Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have recently been spotted wearing their Birks with socks!
And it’s not just Birkenstocks getting the designer treatment, Teva sandals are making a comeback as well. Of course, you don’t need to buy a specific brand to be in style. Look for flat sandals with flat soles and utilitarian-looking straps.
But how to pull them off with more than shorts and tees this summer? Here are five Dos and five Don’ts to help you get the most wear out of your favourite sandals.
Do: Take a step outside of your comfort zone — but not out of those shoes. You probably have specific ideas about which clothes go with Birkenstocks (cargo shorts, Indian cotton maxi dresses and tie-dye). Forget those ideas and create new ones.
Don’t: DO NOT wear your sandals with socks unless you are sitting around a campfire and even then, don’t you have closed-toe shoes that might be more appropriate? Yes, I mentioned that the Olsen twins did it. But they are tiny, insanely rich and eccentric fashion fairies whose style is only meant to be witnessed and not copied. You will look like you just stepped off of a commune, not a runway.
Do: Wear your sandals with long skirts and dresses, just make sure that you choose modern, refined-looking pieces over oversized, flowy, vintage-looking ones. The aesthetic you’re going for is more clean, Scandinavian style than dirty hippie.
Don’t: Wear your sandals with tie-dye, hemp necklaces or hoodies. (You are a grown woman, not a teenager.)
Do: Try to add one piece that’s a bit surprising. For instance, if you’re wearing your Birks with denim shorts and a crisp, white T-shirt, add a polished Panama hat or fedora. Or grab a purse with a dressier chain strap instead of your go-to canvas tote.
Don’t: Wear them with cut-offs if you’re going anywhere but the cottage. This is a look that only 14-year-olds can pull off.
Do: Colour coordinate. White sandals look lovely with white-printed skirts and dresses. Same goes for black. If your Birks are accented with brown leather, consider them a neutral and wear them with everything.
Don’t: Overthink your outfit. The whole point of this trend is to take advantage of a comfortable trend while it’s around. If you spend an hour choosing something to wear, that kind of defeats the purpose.
Do: Invest in a pair of sandals that you’ll wear beyond this summer. While white-straps and white soles are a trendy look this year, it may leave you feeling like a nurse in 2015. Buy the sandals that you love and that will become an annual staple in your wardrobe, no matter the trend.
Don’t: Buy a pair of Birkenstocks just because they’re in fashion. If you’ve never liked them, you won’t like them next year when another trend takes over.
Clockwise from top: Birkenstock Madrid in Black Birko-Flor, $79.99, getoutsideshoes.com; Teva Women’s Original Sandal in Leather Polka Dots, $60, tevaonline.ca; Zara Printed Leather Crossover Sandal, $99.90, zara.com; Zara Leather Sandals with Buckles, $99.90, zara.com; Birkenstock Arizona in Birko-Flor White, $99.99, getoutsideshoes.com