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Birkenstock Buyer’s Guide: Everything You Need To Know

Birkenstocks are a type of sandal that come in many different styles, colours and materials. They are incredibly comfortable, making them perfect for everyday use. There are many different types of Birkenstocks – from the Arizona to the Gizeh but choosing the perfect pair shouldn’t cause a headache.

Our Birkenstock buying guide answers all of your burning questions, including a breakdown of all the different styles of Birkenstocks for you to choose from.

What are Birkenstocks?

When it comes to longevity and legacy, few footwear brands can boast what Birkenstock can. They have been around since 1774 and have been a popular choice for sandals and shoes ever since. The company started in Neustadt, Germany, where they still make their shoes today. Birkenstocks are made from natural materials like cork and latex, making them both easy to wear and durable. Their many variations make them versatile open-back shoes, from straightforward sandal style designs to boho clogs.

The most popular Birkenstock sandal is the Arizona, which has a simple yet stylish design. It’s perfect for everyday wear and can be dressed up or down. If you’re looking for something a bit more stylish, check out the Gizeh. This sandal has a thong-style strap and comes in metallics and bright colours.

It was Konrad Birkenstock, however, who pioneered the now-infamous flexible footbeds, something that has become a staple of the product. The cork footbed conforms to your feet over time, making them even more comfortable with each wear. This feature is combined with a deep heel cup that provides support and stability.

Birkenstock Styles

When choosing your next new favourite pair of sandals or clogs, knowing what styles and sizing features there are beforehand will be very helpful. Here, you’ll find out about a series of models and designs as well as some recommendations on fit.

There are many different models and styles of Birkenstock sandals available. Each of the models has a distinctive look but also retains the key tenets of Birkenstock design. Each of these designs ranges from block colours to classic muted tones and from minimal detailing to bolder accents.

The Arizona

​​The Arizona is a model whose main strengths lie in that they are a straightforward sandal perfect for everyday wear. This model is perhaps one of the most recognisable of the Birkenstock family besides the Boston. It has two wide straps that go over the top of the foot, which feature a discreet buckle on each for easy adjustment. They are made of Birko-Flor, a synthetic material that is designed to be comfortable and durable. Birko-Flor is also stain-resistant and easy to clean. 

Birkenstock sandals are known for their excellent quality and comfort, and the Arizona is no exception. If you are looking for a comfortable, stylish sandal, the Arizona is an excellent choice. Another of the Arizona’s attributes is that this model is appropriate for both men and women – after all, the boho look is for everybody.

The Boston

The Boston is a classic clog style shoe that has been around for generations and is perhaps the most recognisable silhouette of the Birkenstock family. It is characterised by its simple design, which features a slip-on style with two adjustable straps over the top of the foot. Whilst the Arizona is open-toed, the clog design means the Boston is closed. They are made with a soft, supple material that conforms to the shape of your foot for unmatched comfort. It also has a contoured footbed that provides support and aids in alignment. 

The Birkenstock Boston is available in a variety of colours and sizes, making it a great option for both men and women. Whether you’re looking for a casual shoe to wear around the house or a more stylish option for days out, the Boston is a truly wonderful and distinctive shoe.

The Madrid 

The Madrid is perfect for summertime and epitomises the ideal sandal. This model is a popular choice for those looking for easy wear and simple, timeless stylishness. The Madrid features the famous contoured footbed that provides support for the arch and heel, while a single buckle strap helps to keep the foot in place. The upper is made from a soft, synthetic material that is easy to clean, and the EVA sole provides cushioning and traction. Whether you’re spending a day at the beach or running errands around town, the Birkenstock Madrid sandal is a great choice for any activity.

Big Buckle

The Big Buckle model is a newer variation of the popular sandal. This model features a prominent metal buckle at the top of the foot strap, which is both decorative and functional. The buckle provides additional adjustability to ensure a comfortable, customised fit, as well as being an eye-catching and chic feature. It goes without saying that Birkenstock’s signature cork and latex footbed appear too. This provides further support and cushioning, while the EVA sole offers flexibility and shock absorption. The Big Buckle refers not to a distinct style of Birkenstock, but to the enhanced buckle. As such, Seine, Madrid and Arizona models can each come under the Big Buckle umbrella.

Sizing and Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks are typically available in sizes ranging from women’s 3 to men’s 15. If you’re unsure of your Birkenstock size, you can use the Birkenstock size chart to help you determine your fit. The chart provides width and length measurements for each size, so you can be sure that you’re getting a sandal that fits properly. Bear in mind that they can be adjusted to a limited extent if they feature buckles.

Woman wearing Birkenstocks

When trying on Birkenstocks, be sure to wear the socks or stockings (yes, that is allowed!) that you’ll usually wear with them. You should also allow for about a thumb’s width of space between your toes and the end of the sandal. Keep in mind that the footbeds will stretch over time, so if they feel a bit snug when you try them on, they’ll likely loosen up.

Caring for your Birkenstocks

Caring for Birkenstocks is a breeze. All you need is a damp cloth and some mild soap. Be sure to rinse them off afterwards and allow them to air dry. If your Birkenstocks get wet, you can also blot them with a towel to dry them off.

If your Birkenstocks start to look a bit worn down, you can use some cork sealer to help protect the cork footbed. Make sure to test the sealer on an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire footbed, as some sealers may cause discolouration.

If you’re wondering, ‘can I Put my Birkenstocks in the washing machine?’ then the answer is fairly straightforward. It is not advisable to machine wash Birkenstocks. The leather uppers would become damaged, and the tossing and turning of the machine could compromise the integrity of your wonderful Birks.

Styling Birkenstocks

One of the greatest things about the Birkenstock is that, despite their simplicity and casual appearance, they are completely appropriate for several different situations. That isn’t to say that you can substitute a more formal pair of shoes, for example. Birkenstocks have the ability to add effortless, urban know-how to your style.

Dressed up Birkenstocks

Believe it or not, Birkenstocks are a fantastic choice in footwear to pair with classic, more traditional styles. Recent trends have taken casual and sporty pieces and combined them with more business-like, smarter pieces. That isn’t to say a Manchester United shirt with suit trousers is a good look to turn up to work in – despite ‘blokecore’ emerging.

Instead, think of Birkenstocks as a great mid-point between total casual and all-out conventional. Wearing a pair of Boston clogs or Arizona sandals can make for a really interesting foil for cropped trousers and an oversized linen button-down. By keeping the tones of your look muted, clogs look like they should be there instead of it appearing like a fashion faux pas.

Broad horizontal stripes and navy accents are a great way of adding some nautical chic, with your Arizona’s providing an effortless base to this slightly preppy sensibility. There’s also a lot to be said for an all-black look. An all-black outfit can come across as an overbearing and too-formal colour at times. Offsetting the seriousness of a black outfit can be achieved with a pair of Birkenstocks.

Relaxed, laid-back looks

Wearing Birkenstocks as part of a relaxed, laid-back look is perhaps how this famous footwear is most ordinarily imagined. Birkenstocks are the perfect footwear for casual summertime looks. 

Birkenstocks can be styled with maxi dresses, shorts, and bold prints for a boho-chic look. As well as these flowing, fluid designs, they’re also a brilliant partner to alternative legwear styles such as dungarees and workwear overalls. Birkenstocks are also the perfect footwear for dressing up a casual outfit. Birkenstocks can be worn with jeans and a t-shirt for a put-together look. 

Birkenstocks are also the perfect footwear for the beach. Birkenstocks can be worn with a bathing suit and cover-up for a chic beach look. Birkenstocks are also comfortable enough to wear all day long. This makes Birkenstocks the perfect choice for stylish and comfortable summertime footwear – and an option that will suit several different environments.

Can I wear socks with my Birkenstocks?

An enduring and seemingly age-old question. The answer is a resounding yes – so long as your choice of socks is just as stylish as your footwear taste. To begin with, avoiding ankle and novelty socks is a must. Besides that, block colours that tie in with the other elements of your outfit are an absolute win if you’re wearing socks with your Birks. As well as that, if it’s a bit nippy your toes will thank you for it.

How Should My Birkenstocks Fit? 

As with some items of footwear, Birkenstocks are known for fitting more snugly to your feet over time. With this in mind, you might be wondering how to approach the sizing and fit of your next favourite pair of Birkenstocks. Below are a few things to consider before you step out in this wonderful footwear. 

Are Birkenstocks small fitting?

Birkenstock sandals are unique in that they mould to the shape of your foot over time, making them extremely comfortable. However, this also means that they can be tricky to size. Birkenstocks should generally be bought a size down from your regular shoe size, as they will stretch out slightly with wear.

In addition, Birkenstocks have a narrow width, so if you have wide feet, you may need to buy a size up. If you are unsure of what size to purchase, it is best to try Birkenstocks on in person before making a purchase. With a little bit of trial and error, you can find the perfect pair of Birkenstocks for your feet.

Trying on Birkenstocks

Trying on Birkenstocks before you commit is a good idea. Before you leave the house, you should follow these steps and find out if the size you have opted for is right for your feet. 

  1. Firstly, give your new Birkenstocks a little flex. After unboxing, gently curve your sandals against a hard surface. The cork soles may feel like they are a little unyielding, but they will eventually feel a bit more flexible. 
  2. After undoing the straps, place your foot in the heel cup as far back as is comfortable. Tighten them to the desired level. If your toes hang over the front, they are too small. If the sole of your foot doesn’t match up with the sandal, or there is more than a slight gap, they will be too big, especially after adjusting to your feet. 
  3. The next step is to put your weight down. Your feet may change position a little but the slight gap should account for any expansion. Be careful of the position of your heel. If there is a gap at the heel, the straps may need tightening. 
  4. Staying indoors (and on clean surfaces) walk around in your Birkenstocks for a few minutes. As in step 1, they may feel a little inflexible but they will soften. 
  5. If they feel uncomfortable or your feet move around a little too much, trying another size is advisable. After all, Birkenstocks should be comfortable. 

Birkenstocks at Daniel Footwear

With a bit of luck, you now feel equipped to begin your journey into the wonderful world of Birkenstocks. By choosing this timeless and ever-stylish shoe, you will begin a road to building a reputation as an icon. Making sure you are comfortable is, above all, a primary reason for choosing Birkenstocks – luckily they have this in droves, too!

If you have the fortune of being new to Birkenstocks then finding out which style is right for you is part of the experience! At Daniel Footwear, we have a range of Birkenstocks for you to choose from. So whether it’s the Madrid Big Buckle or the Arizona EVA, there’s a choice of Birkenstock for just about everybody. Browse the entire range of this stunning sandal here.    

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