My earliest memory of Birkenstocks is of my mom’s chunky, classic two-strap leather sandals sitting by the sliding door to the back patio of our house. It was baking hot outside—too hot for bare feet on concrete—so I slipped them on. They were too big, and the leather sole was worn satiny smooth from years of use, so my feet slid around in them as I walked. At the time, Birks seemed profoundly uncool—a symbol of my crunchy, outdoorsy, embarrassing mom who I swore up and down I would never turn into.
I am now the proud owner of not one but two pairs of Birkenstocks, and I wear them almost every day from March to October if the weather allows. At campsites and on beach days, you’ll catch me lounging in my Arizona Essentials EVA ($50), whose tread has been worn down (but isn’t smooth) from three summers of intensive use. While I’m writing this, I’m wearing the Sierra Oiled Leather ($160) model, which looks classy but has a sole you could hike in. They’ll come with me on errands later today and then on a date.
Birkenstocks are the perfect après-outdoors/summer casual shoes. Not only are they incredibly versatile, but they also have supreme staying power: the two-buckle style my mom wore in the ’90s is nearly identical to the pair I wear today. But the real beauty of these shoes is how they wear with time, only becoming more comfortable and more beloved over the years until they reach the satiny-smooth ideal of the first pair I tried on.
For me, other sandals just don’t cut it. I want something comfortable and functional that I can slip on at a moment’s notice and be ready for almost anything a summer day has to offer. No bending over to fasten straps, please. And I will not stand for flip-flop chafe between my toes. Just give me the outstanding arch support and casual style of my two-buckle friend, the Birkenstock.
I’ve chosen my side in the Sandal Battle, and I will passionately defend the “earthy” looks of the Birkenstock to the last. Sometimes, during shoulder season, I even pair my ’stocks with socks. Don’t tell tweenage me, but I’m definitely turning into my mom—and I’m not mad about it.
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