Curating Closets: Slip-Ons

I love me a good jandal, as the Kiwis call them. Slip-ons are my practical, everyday go-to. And when it comes to the category, Birkenstocks are the ones that stand-out for me. Some would say they aren’t pretty, but they look good to me. Something about their Nordic simplicity really resonates. Honestly, the design of their shoes equally match Tokyo-style as much as Parisian fashion. More importantly, Birks are ergonomic, sustainable, versatile and surprisingly form-fitting. These babies are worth the price-point and so much more.

My first experience with Birkenstocks

I remember when I bought my first pair. I was in dental school with nary a penny to my name, and millions of pennies to the government’s name. My now-husband and then two-roommates were at the beach in South Bay. We just finished a morning of fantasy football viewing at our favorite pub, and the boys were heading to the sand to throw a frisbee around and fall asleep. I remember two of them getting sun-burnt after taking an hour nap.

I went to visit the Birkenstock carrier at the boardwalk. My now-husband who was already working at the time bought me my first pair. I felt like it was a splurge. It was a Nubuck leather Arizona sandal, in a taupe color with silver buckles. I remember picking one out from the kids section, simply because it was cheaper. A size too small, but fits none-the-less. I wore those Birks every chance I got, until it eventually fell apart.

My Birkenstock Sandal Journey

Since then I’ve also owned the Madrid sandal in their water-proof, synthetic EVA material. I love those for beach and pool days, washing the car, or simply for stepping outside at anytime there was a chance of wet feet. Those sandals lasted at least five years. At less than $40 a pair, I would say it was a great investment.

But it was the baker days that turned me onto the Boston Birkenstock slip-ons. My forever favorite. Of all the Birks I’ve loved before, these have been the most sturdy, functional, and useful. I remember early morning shifts laden in flour, my black Birkenstocks contrasting white powder while I stood for hours manning ovens, mixing dough, and topping off pastries. I originally got them because they covered my toes and were slip-resistant, which were essential for my work. They eventually became my every-day shoe.

After I moved on from the bakery and opened my dog-sitting business RMV Tail & Paws, they became my dog-walking shoe. Whether it was 6am in the morning or 9pm at night, there was no sneaker that could compete with the ease of these slip-ons. Likewise, I would wear them with my fancy Eileen Fisher Wool Coat, or a denim summer dress. As long as I wasn’t planning to run or do any physical activity, I would opt for the Boston clogs. After marrying my husband, I had outgrown my insecurities about being tall and decluttered all my heels and wedges. Now I go for comfort over style.

So let’s talk price.

You may be thinking, Birkenstocks are not frugal purchases at all. But I reframe cost into value. When I buy a pair of shoes, I consider how often I wear those shoes in my calculations. Essentially, a shoe I wear every day gets more value per dollar than a shoe that is fancily tucked away in a box for special occasions. It isn’t the dollar amount itself that matters, but rather, the worth of those dollars.

As a caveat, there is what I would call a ‘learning curve’ with Birkenstocks. It takes a while for your feet to get accustomed to the fit. The cork sole does mold to them, but your feet may find the ridges and dips a bit discomforting at first. To be fair, they’ve been used to flat, unsupported shoes for so long. But these, my friend, are game-changers. Like all good things, it takes time.

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