Three Ways to Wear a Birkenstock

Posted on June 30, 2014, 5:23 pm
6 mins

Photo by Tim Hout via Vogue.

Photo by Tim Hout via Vogue.

You have probably been listening to this conversation for months now. What do you think of Birkenstocks? Do you like them and would you wear them? Personally, I recoiled at the very thought when these bastions of counter-fashion hit the runways. Even Celine’s fur lined version didn’t make me budge from my “no way” stance. The only people I associated with these comfortable caveman shoes were men and aging hippies and that is where I stood, so to speak, on the matter.

Then I began to take a second look. I consider myself an open-minded individual, a fashion enthusiast and someone who loves to try new things. Does embracing the Birkenstock mean I have become “normcore,” the buzz word that describes those who embrace the average, who don’t want to distinguish themselves from others, preferring the mainstream? Or worse yet, am I a fashion victim unaware of her own demise? The reason behind my change of heart is surprisingly simple. A fresh perspective and dressing to express who you are means you can look at the mainstream—the “norm”—and interpret it in your individual way. The shoes this season are giving us a summer break from teetering high heels and pinched toes. The sneakers, d’Orsay flats and, yes, Birkenstocks are a way of giving feet a summer vacation, and you can still wear them with a stylish edge. And we do love the feeling of discovering something new, even if it is only new to us.

Birkenstock Business

My favorite way to rock a “Birk” is to wear this casual shoe with a surprising mix. The pair to which I gravitated, the Birkenstock “Madrid,” is the classic flat sandal with a single buckled strap in black patent leather. The patent did it for me; an uptown aesthetic on a super casual shoe means you wear it however you want to. Wear this shiny little Birkenstock with a plaid and pinstripe combo that is unexpected. The Stella McCartney Taylor pinstripe trouser are cropped so they can show off your great shoe choice, and the upbeat and slightly oversized plaid Madewell Ex-Boyfriend shirt gives it a more laid back appeal. I love the classic appeal of the Timex watch, especially with the black patent band that calls back to the patent on the shoes. Rebecca Minkoff’s monogrammed necklace and a pair of Ainsley Sunglasses from Anthropologie keep the look stylish. And who doesn’t love a backpack? A handbag style is perfect for running around town, and no one does it better than rag & bone, with their Pilot Leather Backpack.


Birkenstock Business #2

This next set would be fabulous for a weekend brunch or get-together with friends. The T Bags Tiered Maxi Dress is sleek and chic, so the groovy little Birkenstocks add an extra flair. Keep it cool with a pair of Dior Mohotani Cat Eye Sunglasses. The Leather Valentino Rockstud Cuff (Be still my heart!), and the Elizabeth and James Mondrian Ring are both covetable pieces that you can wear year-round. The MM6 Maison Margiela Tote is a mixed-media printed canvas that adds a summery, lighthearted vibe to your otherwise sophisticated look.


Birkenstock Business #3

The classic tuxedo jacket can add a little something-something to your summery outfit, and this Kate Moss for Topshop one is a favorite. It’s cropped with a shimmer, and wearing it with the DVF Benan Lace Shorts turns it into a very on-trend “short suit.” In keeping with this vibe, add the summery J.Crew Shirting Stripe Tank, which uses dress shirt fabric to make a summer top. The Harrison Bracelet by Courtney Lee Collection is a perfect little stack of bling, and as long as you are being all trendy and such, why don’t you do the mismatched earring trend? Wear one of the Nordstrom Hammered Stick Earrings and one of the simple Givenchy Glass Pearl Studs. It will take people a minute to notice, so it’s a way of being a daredevil in an understated way. Carry the soft blue Clare V. Wallet Clutch, and add a swoosh of OPI Nail Lacquer Road House Blues and you are good to go.

Whether you want to embrace the latest darling of the fashionable set, or you have been a fan for years, finding new ways to look at conventional pieces keeps you out of the dreaded normcore crowd, and makes it all about you. And who doesn’t appreciate that? Happy Summer.


Lisa Cole is the fashion and style writer for Vanguard Seattle, and her work includes covering fashion news and events, runway shows and boutiques. She has her own fashion and lifestyle blog,, and is a member of Independent Fashion Bloggers and Fashion Group International.