August 17, 2022

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Forget Mediocre Fashion

How To Style Birkenstock Clogs For An Effortlessly Chic Look

Bucking the notion that all trends will eventually go through (and repeat) a familiar cycle of rise-peak-decline, a small handful of historic shoes have skipped the rotation all together and remained relevant decade after decade. A few that come to mind: Converse’s Chuck Taylor, the high-top sneaker that was first released in 1917. There’s also Dr. Martens’ contrast stitching, a symbol of understated irreverence that’s been around since 1947. But the shoe that I’ve been thinking about most lately, The Boston Clog, comes from a brand that dates back several centuries — Birkenstock.

The German footwear giant’s story begins in 1774 when Johann Adam Birkenstock was recorded as “subject and cobbler” in the church archives of Langen-Bergheim, Germany, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that the label made its way stateside and not until 1979 that the object of my affection was introduced: The Boston. This classic clog was originally designed as a house and work shoe, but in recent years it’s shimmied its way into the upper echelons of the fashion world. But regardless of what celebrity wears it or which designer unveils a collaboration with the brand, there’s something impenetrably cool about these shoes. They’re affordable, support your feet, and nail that effortless vibe really, really well.

My favorite pair of Birkenstock Boston clogs in Taupe.Courtesy of Nicole Kliest

Though the Arizona slide-on sandal from Birkenstock is arguably the more popular style, Boston comes in as a close second, especially during the colder months of the year when they look grandpa-chic styled with a Marl-knit sock (my preferred approach). There’s also the Zermatt clog for an even more minimal silhouette, as a side note. In any case, this shoe ‘trend’ remains a staple forty-some-odd years and counting, and if you haven’t fallen in love already, continue ahead for a few of my favorite recent looks showing how to wear it right now; that should do the trick.

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High-Low Mix

In my opinion, the best kind of outfit is one that delivers a high-low mix — meaning, it incorporates an element of glamour while grounding the vibe with a piece that’s more utilitarian or laidback (in this case, a pair of black clogs). I’d wear this walking a dog or running out for a quart of milk on the weekend.

Le French Girl Chic

I’m always taken aback by how many pairs of Birkenstocks I spot when visiting Paris, but I suppose the footwear’s no-fuss attitude fits in nicely with Parisian sensibilities. This look pairs them with a slouchy camel coat and ‘90s-inspired jeans for an aesthetic that would feel at home on the streets of somewhere like Pigalle or Canal Saint-Martin.

Slouchy Separates

Melodie Jeng/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Since clogs already ooze effortlessness, this outfit that pairs them with a boxy blazer and slouchy trousers feels especially well-assembled. I’d finish off with a shoulder bag and slim top or vest underneath to keep it from feeling shapeless.

Never Too Many Neutrals

I live in NYC, land of all-black outfits, which is why when I spot a fresh take on full-noir dressing I bookmark it. This look feels, at once, professional and sensual and the belt and clogs lend a unique finish that a pair of boots or ballet flats simply couldn’t accomplish.

Outdoors Ease

One of the best parts about clogs is that they translate to the great outdoors pretty seamlessly, which means wearing them with a straw hat, socks, and comfortable separates makes perfect sense (as illustrated above). Wear this look to your next stroll around the park or weekend adventure to the countryside.

The New Prep

Some might think ‘granola’ when prompted about their opinion on Birkenstock, but that’s simply not the case. As proven many times over the years, these shoes can adapt to different style types from minimalist to preppy. This look with its plaid overcoat, button-down shirt, and slim slacks feels more interesting with a pair of clogs instead of the more predictable pair of loafers.

Sort of Sporty

When I’m working from home I like to choose outfits that prioritize comfort but also differentiate my day from pajama-wearing hours. This sweater, retro leggings, and clog moment nails that vibe.

Earth Tones

Don’t get me wrong, I love a colorful, graphic style moment but I tend to gravitate more regularly toward everyday outfits that lean on earthy color palettes, like this versatile look above. Plus, a sweater and oversized button-down shirt combination will never go out of style and it looks particularly cool paired with white denim.