How to wear Birkenstocks

The first time I saw Birkenstocks on the feet of someone fashionable was while waiting in line to get into the BCBG show at New York Fashion Week way back in 2015. The woman (who looked familiar but I’ve never been able to put a finger on who she was), had on a flowy, bright-white pants and top, and white, patent-leather Birkenstocks.

I’ll admit she looked chic, but I as soon as I saw her I also had this very dramatic “DUN DUN DUN….they’re baa-aaaack” moment, because at the time I really disliked Birkenstocks. As a shoe, I found them fundamentally unattractive. And they reminded me of middle school, when I was also fundamentally unattractive.

After the sighting, I even promptly tweeted:


Spoiler alert: I now not only own Birkenstocks, I wear them almost daily when the weather allows.

I find them comfortable, and far less ugly than I used to, and I actually think they can be part of a classic outfit idea, as well as a more trendy one.

If you’re still not sure how to wear Birkenstocks, here’s a look at outfit ideas for all sorts of occasions.

How to wear Birkenstocks

1. With an all white or all black outfit. A la the mystery woman from fashion week. All white or all black basics + Birkenstocks = a chic look with a boho twist.

how to wear birkenstocks
Left photo: The Daily Beast; Right photo: Who What Wear

2. With biker shorts. I never thought biker shorts would make a comeback either, but here’s Fashion Jackson, looking remarkably chic in biker shorts and Birks. I love this as an easy mom outfit idea.

3. With “edgy” pieces. Historically, Birkenstocks have been associated with hippies and, well, Vermont. So pairing them with pieces that are completely on the opposite end of the style spectrum, like skinny leather pants as Sincerely Jules does below, makes them seem modern and cutting edge.

Photo via Sincerely Jules
Photo via Sincerely Jules

See also, these girls:

Images via julietpolilova.com
Photos via julietpolilova.com

4. The casual way. The one thing that truly makes Birkenstocks a good summer shoe is the fact that they’re comfortable. Pairing them with denim cutoffs and a button down, or a cotton sundress with a chambray shirt throw over it looks cool and easy.

Photo via takeaim.nu
Photo via takeaim.nu

Now for the DONTs:

1. I shouldn’t have to tell you this. But don’t ever wear Birkenstocks with socks, like in the Marie Claire photo above. Models can get away with this. The rest of us will just look frumpy.

2. Be cautious about wearing them with boyfriend jeans. Celebrities and models can get away with it, but IRL, it’s too easy to cross the line into frumpy territory.

Are Birkenstocks trendy in 2022?

Birkenstocks are a major fashion trend for 2022 and 2023. They’ve officially reached the masses. You’ll see cool moms wearing them, and kids wearing them, and hip teens wearing them, too.

They’re a versatile shoe and can be worn with lots of different styles. Pair them with a shirt dress, or cropped wide leg jeans and a tshirt for a casual vibe, or wear them with leather pants and a button down in in-between seasons for a relaxed but sophisticated look.

What types of Birkenstocks are in style?

There are a bunch of different types of Birkenstocks available now, and some are more on-trend than other. Overall, the most popular styles are:

Birkenstock Big Buckle Arizona Sandals

The Big Buckle Arizona sandles offer a more polished look than the original style, and have been the go-to for the fashion forward, especially in white leather or the cognac color.

Birkenstock Boston Clog

Birkenstock clogs are also back! The shearling lined ones are perfect for fall, winter, and early spring.

Birkenstock EVA essential slide

These Birkenstocks are everywhere. For one, they’re less expensive than regular Birks because they’re made of an EVA foam instead of leather. They’re also comfortable, waterproof, and they have a more fun, modern look than the original sandals.

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