First Impressions: Birkenstocks

Monterey Birkenstocks| Natural Leather in Black (Exquisite Leather Footbed)
Monterey Birkenstocks| Natural Leather in Black (Exquisite Leather Footbed)

The ugly dad sandal trend is well and truly upon us and you know what? I’m actually starting to get on board with it. To me, Birkenstocks were always that practical, non-stylish sandal. They reminded me of something your dad or grandpa would wear. And up until this year, I wouldn’t have even considered them. But after recently decluttering my wardrobe and honing my personal style, I’ve been on the lookout for a comfortable pair of staple black sandals that will ideally last me the next 5-10 years. I wanted something that was classic and versatile, that could be styled with the majority of my wardrobe; jeans, track pants, skirts and dresses alike. I also wanted something comfortable – I already have my fair share of strappy flat sandals.

The thought of Birkenstocks came about after I discovered Brittany Bathgate – and subsequently binge-watched all of the videos on her YouTube channel. I immediately fell in love with her minimalist style, and although I don’t share her love for Dr. Martens or an all navy ensemble, I did notice her all-black Birkenstocks that she styled with ease – from big floaty dresses to tailored trousers. Up until then I wasn’t even aware that Birkenstock did an all black version.

From then on, I started to realise just how many of my favourite minimalist bloggers had Birkenstocks. It turns out Birkenstocks are the universal shoe of comfort, worn in summer with dresses and shorts, and in winter with socks and tailored trousers or jeans.

Arizona Birkenstocks | EVA in Black

Initially I went for the classic Arizona Birkenstocks in all black (after discovering the leather all black Birkenstocks were $315 AUD). The description of the Arizona EVA stated that they were vegan, made from an Ethyl Vinyl Acetate. From the images, these look like a vegan leather and although not as beautifully crafted as the Monterey (the black leather version), I thought these would be perfect to see whether Birkenstocks had a place in my wardrobe – I could then invest in the leather pair at a later time. However, when they arrived, I was pretty disappointed to find that I had paid $87 AUD for essentially a ‘plastic’ shoe.

The Arizona EVA still offers the contours and arch support of any Birkenstock, while also being resistant to water, oil and grease. These shoes are super lightweight, and I did have the thought that these would be great for when we travel around Vietnam again, however the website does mention that they can shrink at high temperatures.

I still tried them on with quite a few outfits and was very impressed with how much of my wardrobe they worked well with – track pants and a t-shirt, jeans and a jumper, linen pants and a linen shirt, coats and skirts. But ultimately I wasn’t comfortable paying that much for a plastic pair of slides, so I decided to return them. I have to add, if you’re buying Birkenstocks through their official Australia site, the returns process is really easy and the customer service team is very helpful.

MontereBirkenstocks | Natural Leather in Black (Exquisite Leather Footbed)

As luck would have it, The Iconic were having a 25% off sale that included the Monterey Natural Leather in Black (Exquisite Leather Footbed), so I decided to get them. I was much happier paying $236.25 rather than $315.00 for these but now that I have them, I probably would have paid the $315.00 if it weren’t for the sale!

The Monterey Natural Leather in Black (Exquisite Leather Footbed) is exactly as I was expecting. The leather is beautifully crafted and it fits perfectly – I went for the narrow width in a size 39 (I definitely recommend using the sizing guide on the official Birkenstock site – it was super helpful). I will say, the craftsmanship isn’t exactly what I was hoping for at this price point – the leather could have been finished better at the edges and the metal buckles definitely could have been of a higher quality.

The contours and arch support is noticeable and because I have trouble with the arch of my foot, I can tell these are going to take quite a few wears to get used to. The sole is made of cork so it is quite easy to walk on, unlike some of my other flatter sandals that, after a while, can feel like you’re walking directly on the ground.

Keep your eyes on my Instagram @theeditorsstyle to see how I style these.

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