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Once known as the ultimate hippy shoe, Birkenstocks have come a long way. This post is a roundup of the best Birkenstocks for women in 2020 and answers the question, “are Birkenstocks Worth it?”
From adorning the feet of flower children in the 70s (when they needed a break from barefoot dancing) to liberal college kids in the 90s, Birkenstocks have made their way into the fashion world and have become the sandal of choice for generations fashion lovers all over the world.
Blame it on the rise of normcore and/or athleisure. Perhaps it’s just part of the regular fashion cycle, remember how huge 70s trends were a few seasons ago? But it seems that comfortable shoes are here to stay.
But really – it was Phoebe Philo who started it all. Birkenstocks essentially became trendy after the Celine spring 2013 fashion show when models strutted down the runway in Birkenstock-esque slides and loosely tailored separates (source).
The top 10 most popular Birkenstocks and Birkenstock best sellers are:
- Birkenstock Arizona Sandals
- Birkenstock Gizeh Sandals
- Birkenstock Madrid Sandals
- Birkenstock Boston Clog
- Birkenstock Yara Sandals
- Birkenstock Kairo Sandals
- Birkenstock Mayari Sandals
- Birkenstock Milano Sandals
- Birkenstock Florida Sandals
- Birkenstock Salina Sandals
It all started with the seven Birkenstock Classics, the shoes that portray the Birkenstock spirit. Why do people love these classics?
Well, people gravitate towards these designs because of their unmistaken depiction of sustainability and wellbeing rather than the notion of what is in trend.
Birkenstock Classics: Madrid, Zurich, Arizona, Boston, Gizeh, Yara, and Kairo
The one-strap Madrid shoe is the oldest member of the Birkenstock line of products. Known as the “gymnastics sandal,” the shoes have grip reflex that is activated with walking. The cushioned footbed of Madrid offers the perfect combination of comfort and ergonomics for the owner. Also available at Zappos.
Nothing beats a shoe that molds to your feet. The Birkenstock Zurich is a popular unisex shoe that combines the benefits of closed shoes with its covered sides, and the flexibility of sandals with open toes and heels. The Zurich sandal will feel so good that you’ll forget that you’re wearing a pair of shoes (i.e., like a second skin). Available on Amazon.
Termed the “One for All” Birkenstock, this model is a jack of all trade. Made for work and leisure, outdoor and indoors, and for all gender, this environmentally-friend piece is available in a plethora of colors. Also available at Zappos and DSW.
The Arizona sandal is the reason Birkenstock has become a household name even all the way in Nigeria, where I grew up. The iconic design of this unisex Arizona sandal is the epitome of the Birkenstock brand.
As described on the Birkenstock website, “for some it’s a provocation and a calculated break with style, while for others it’s an expression of a life attitude and a symbol of belonging.”
The Class Boston clogs. Slip them on, and you’ll forget that you have them on. As described on the official Birkenstock website, the Boston clogs provide the highest level of comfort. No cramped toes, no uncomfortable pressure points thanks to thanks to its signature cork sole and latex footbed (source). Also available at Zappos.
The Gizeh sandal is the Birkenstock “stylish all-rounder.” It is simple, feminine, elegant, relaxed and cool. At the beginning of 1980, the brand redesigned this style. As luck would have it, the Gizeh became a permanent imprint in shoe stores all around the world shortly after that.
With the presence of an adjustable buckle, the straps can be adjusted for fit and convenience. The timeless Gizeh sandal is available in a wide range of colors. Also available at Zappos.
The Birkenstock Yara sandals are the ultimate vacation sandals. This sandal features an impressive combination of toe aligners and adjustable straps.
A compelling benefit of Yara is a rear strap that wraps around your ankle in a crosswise pattern for excellent support and perfect fit. Also available at Zappos.
Last but definitely not the least is the Kairo closed ankle sandal. This uber-comfortable sandal features firm support and a design that is easy on the eyes. The individually adjustable instep strap guarantees a perfect fit every single time. Also available at Zappos.
Top 10 Best Birkenstocks for Women
I’ve rounded up the 10 most portable Birkenstock sandals that are comfortable for walking and will look great on your feet.
1. Birkenstock Arizona Sandals
The Arizona sandal is the OG of Birkenstock. And it is probably the style that pops into your mind when you think of Birkenstock. The chunky cork sole and two thick buckle straps of the Birkenstock Arizona style have remained unchanged since its debut in 1973! They are available in different colors and prints on Zappos and DSW.
2. Birkenstock Gizeh Sandals
The Gizeh is the second most famous Birkenstock style. This Birkenstock style is essentially a flip-flop version of the Arizona cork footbed sandals. When it comes to sandals, there are two kinds of people: those who prefer slides and those who prefer flip-flops.
The other defining feature is the large, often contrasting toe divider that pops out like a cute button on the t-strap. Perfect for pairing with your summer dresses or denim cutoffs.
And if you’re wondering, the Gizeh was named after an Egyptian city because the foundation of this footwear dates back to Egypt, right around 1400 BC. I still remember borrowing my sister’s Birkenstock lookalike sandals 10+ years ago. The Birko-Flor never goes out of style! Get this exact style from Zappos or the more affordable style from DSW.
3. Birkenstock Madrid Sandals
The Madrid is a sleeker version of the Arizona with only one buckle strap instead of two. Same comfortable sole but easier to slide into! Launched in 1963, the Madrid slides is the oldest model of the Birkenstock brand (source). This is the sandal for you if you prefer a minimalist design.
The one-strap design makes this Birkenstock the perfect pairing with jeans, dresses, and shorts. Though stylish, your comfort is guaranteed with these Birkenstock sandals.
4. Birkenstock Boston Clog Sandals
Birkenstocks are famous for their sandals, but they make other types of shoes too! Clogs being one of them, the sandal’s more secure cousin. The Boston clog retains the distinctive Birkenstock look with the cork sole and buckle strap.
They’re essentially slippers that are socially acceptable to wear outside. If that’s not heaven for your feet, then I don’t know what is. Next to each Boston Clog are a few Birkenstock look-alikes that cost a lot less.
5. Birkenstock Yara Sandals
Next up is the Birkenstock Yara crisscross sandals. This shoe is, for lack of better words, Birkenstock’s take on the gladiator sandal. The wraparound leather straps; one over the toes and one around the ankles, and signature contoured footbed add a touch of femininity to these sandals.
Dubbed the ultimate vacation sandals, you can expect unrivaled comfort, quality, and durability from the timeless Birkenstock Yara. For a trendy everyday look, pair them with your favorite flowy maxi, and you’ll instantly feel like a goddess! Find the Yara sandals on Zappos and Amazon. You can also get Birkenstock Daloa style on DSW for less.
6. Birkenstock Kairo Sandals
The Kairo flats are the sandal version of the Gizeh with adjustable instep straps. The Kairo sandals come with an extra ankle strap so you’ll never have to worry about putting the flop in flip-flop. Admittedly, while flip-flops are comfy and convenient, they’re not the most practical style. But the Kairo is the best of both worlds.
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7. Birkenstock Mayari Sandals
The Mayari is like a hybrid of the Arizona and the Gizeh with two straps and a toe loop. With almost 10,000 4-plus star ratings, it’s no surprise that these famous sandals are a cult favorite.
The straps are slightly thinner, giving it a more modern and sleek feel. These are a great style if you’ve previously thought Birkenstocks are too big/chunky. Get this best-selling Birkenstock cork footbed sandals from Zappos, DSW, or Amazon.
8. Birkenstock Milano Sandals
If you’re not a fan of the flop in flip-flops or the edge of your heel slipping out of slides, you might love the Birkenstock Milano sandals! It features an additional ankle strap for a secure fit and ultimate comfort. Find this style on Zappos and Amazon with free shipping.
9. Birkenstock Florida Sandals
Calling lovers of all things strappy! The Florida takes the Arizona silhouette up an extra notch with a third strap. The straps are thinner, so there’s no extra bulk on your feet.
The sandals look chic and are sure to be comfortable. Boasting of over 1,300 4.5 star rating, you’ll be thankful you bought these sandals. The Florida sandal is available on Zappos, DSW, and Amazon.
10. Birkenstock Salina Sandals
The Salina is a refreshing, modern take on the classic slide. It comes with two slim buckle straps and one interconnecting curved strap. It’s a small detail that dramatically alters the look. Find these comfortable walking shoes on Zappos or Amazon with free Prime shipping.
Frequently Asked Questions about Birkenstocks
No, most Birkenstocks are not waterproof. However, getting them wet once or twice should not ruin your sandals. You can improve the life of your cork-bed Birkenstocks with the Birkenstock care kit (or a waterproofing spray). However, the EVA sandal from the Birkenstock Essentials collection was designed to be waterproof, which makes a great option.
Birkenstocks have become a household name and are carried by many trusted retailers. The best deals on Birkenstock sandals can be found at Zappos, DSW, Amazon, and Nordstrom. My personal preference is DSW because they have more frequent sales, stackable discounts, and offer free shipping/returns.
Yes, Birkenstocks are worth it! Unlike fast-fashion shoes that last for a season or two at best, Birkenstocks are a timeless classic that lasts for years to come. They are comfortable walking shoes that you’ll reach for over and over again. Take care of your Birks, and they’ll last a lifetime.
Yes, Birkenstocks are good for walking because the cork footbed cushions your feet with firm arch support and molds to your feet with use. The best Birkenstocks for walking are Birkenstock Yara, and Kairo for those that like the feel of sandals. And Birkenstock Arizona, Gizeh and Mayari for those that love the convenience of a slip-on.
Although the average cost of a Birkenstocks is about $100-$125, this price point is considered expensive for many. Birkenstocks are handmade in Germany using high-quality products and specifically engineered to mold to your feet. The production life cycle sheds more light on the brand’s operation and why they are worth this premium price (more here).
Birkenstocks are not just your eccentric aunt’s favorite sandals anymore. Fashionistas have started contrasting them with feminine sundresses or with a simple tank and wide-leg pants for a more minimalist feel.
We now realize there’s just something effortlessly cool about Birkenstocks. Just like Doc Martens or Converse, these are shoes that have stood the test of time and have come back stronger than ever.
Fun Facts about Birkenstocks: Did You Know?
Though Birkenstocks gained worldwide popularity during the hippy/flower child era of the 60s and 70s, the brand traces all the way back to 1774! It was founded by Johann Adam Birkenstock, a shoemaker for church archives in the German village of Langen-Bergheim.
The brand’s famous orthopedic insole was invented in 1896 by Johan’s great-great-grandson, Konrad, and the first two Birkenstock stores opened in Frankfurt.
In the 1900s Birkenstock saw the development of new orthopedic sole prototypes (the same ones they use today). Their shoes were popular post-World War II with veterans who desired practicality and comfort.
The first Birkenstock sandal was designed in 1964, and it quickly gained popularity, especially with athletes. By 1966 Birkenstocks were introduced internationally and quickly became a household name. The rest is history!
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