Birkenstock, How I’ve Missed You!

Yesterday I bought myself a pair of Birkenstock sandals, the first pair I’ve owned in decades.  I hope my fashionista granddaughter doesn’t read this because she will shake her head sadly and lament, “Mimi, you didn’t.”  But yes, I most certainly did.  When my husband saw them, he said, “Oh, I see you’ve  bought your winter shoes.”  He remembers when I wore my old Birkenstock sandals year ’round.  I  wore them with knee socks when the weather turned cold.  I wore them with shorts and slacks and even skirts and dresses.  And when they finally wore out, I’d buy another pair just like them and keep going.

I’ve never been a fancy dresser, unlike my mother who wore dresses, jewelry and make-up every day. She never owned a pair of jeans. I don’t remember her even having a pair of sneakers. I gravitated to more of the “disheveled” look. My Birkenstocks made me feel like Nature Girl, a child of the Sixties, a devil-may-care free spirit. Not that I was, but my Birkies helped feed my illusion.

My teenaged daughter used to groan when she saw me dressed to take her somewhere with her friends, my long, gathered denim skirt and Birkies with knee socks adorning my body, while her friends’ mothers wore their chic little preppie outfits. Maybe I was clueless, but I didn’t much think about, much less care about, dressing to fit in. I had my own style, built around my beloved Birkenstocks.

Then I got a job. I had to dress like a professional. I started seeing myself as a professional, and after my last pair of Birkies wore out, I never replaced them. Talbot’s became the store that defined my fashion. I went for the tailored, classic look. Though I never did venture into the realm of heels, my shoes were fashionable Vaneli flats. And over the years, I forgot about those wonderful sandals that made my feet so happy and my daughter so miserable. Until…

imageYesterday! While I whiled away the time in a shopping area, waiting for a printing job to be completed at an office store, I ventured into a shoe store that specialized in European comfort shoes. The row upon row of Birkenstocks nearly took my breath away. I felt weak in the knees. And I knew, without a doubt, I could not leave that store without a pair of those wonderful sandals on my feet.

Life is good now. My feet are happy. I feel free-spirited again. I want to go out and pick flowers, maybe make a loaf of bread. Let’s see what’s in my closet to go with these new, soon to be beloved, Birkies…Ah, my denim skirt!

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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35 Responses to Birkenstock, How I’ve Missed You!

  1. Shary Hover says:

    Uncomfortable shoes make me so grumpy that I’m impossible to live with. I’ve been a Dansko fan for a long time but maybe I need to branch out. 😉

  2. Al says:

    I’m all for this. Happy feet = happy momma.

  3. Books in the Burbs says:

    I loved your post!! I love how great shoes have a way of coming back into your life! I love Birkenstock-but yeah, there is this connotation of vegan eating, breastfeeding, hairy armpits kind of mom-but who cares!! Feet love them 😀 I’m currently on a Teva kick-I love Teva and can wear the flipflops all day long and my feet feel great! After all, it’s about comfort 😀

    • Coming East says:

      Actually, BB, I was a La Leche League leader when I wore Birkenstocks. Big time breast feeder. Plus, we belonged to a natural food coop, and I baked all our own bread. Even ground my own flour. Didn’t have the hairy armpits, though. LOL

  4. pattisj says:

    I’ve never owned Birkenstocks, though I’ve tried on a pair. I didn’t know about the break-in period. That might have made a difference, knowing they would conform to my foot. Those look very nice; I’ll take you wherever you want to go in you VT socks and denim skirt. It may take us a while to get there…
    I’ll bet George envisioned that college girl standing in front of him.

  5. Robin says:

    I’ve never owned a pair of Birkenstocks. I think I should. 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      Check out a previous comment I made, Robin, because Berkies have to be broken in and people unfamiliar with them don’t know that. When you first put them in, they don’t feel very comfortable, but you have to give them a chance to mold to your foot.

  6. E.C. says:

    Those sandals look just my style. Years ago, I caught a few less than encouraging comments (with an edge of good natured humor) from some of the teens in our family: they didn’t care much for my socks and sandals. We had a good chuckle about it. I saw their point and I didn’t wear my socks and sandals out in public ever again. lol
    A good pair of shoes can really make life more enjoyable. 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      Those darn teenagers. So critical. But have you seen what some of them wear, E.C.? Glad you like my sandals. They are much more fashionable than my original Berkies.

  7. I loved the fact that as I read this post in my gmail inbox, Google kindly supplied adverts for Birkenstocks down the side. Life is one long hyperlink these days!

  8. yay! happy feet! I once had a pair of sandals I loved so much, I wore them until they were basically falling apart and even then I didn’t want to give them up. finally hubby took one of them and threw it far into the woods surrounding his folk’s house. He knew I wouldn’t go after it. His mother yelled, I yelled at him and went into their house, got another pair of shoes out of the suitcase and my feet have never been as happy. DAF

    • Coming East says:

      Sad story, DAF. Go get a pair of Berkies and your feet can be happy, too. I have to caution anyone who has never worn them before, though. You have to break them in gradually by wearing them two hours the first day, three hours the second day, and so forth. Once they conform to your feet, you’ll never know you have them on.

  9. Ah, happy feet. That’s worth the ridicule of wearing those shoes, isn’t it? 😉 Tell you what, if you drag out your old denim skirt, I’ll drag out mine (which I used to wear in the 90’s with colored bobby socks and Keds — oh, fashion wasn’t my forte either!).

  10. lulu says:

    Birkenstocks have been with me for years, and I used to wish they made a dress pair for those occasions when the regulars weren’t quite right. One thing’s for sure, they last forever so you don’t have to replace them too often.

  11. dorannrule says:

    I loved my Birkies too! And they were clunkier than the ones you just bought. They felt wonderful even though they looked clunky and I remember wearing them with socks too. Good for you! Good for you. You are an inspiration!

    • Coming East says:

      Maybe it will inspire you to go,out and buy yourself a pair, Dor? Mine were much clunkier, too, than this new pair. I think this pair is quite fashionable.

  12. Welcome back to Birkiland Susan! I still have 3 pair… a pair of black suede Boston’s (for the Maine winters), purple suede Arizona’s and forest green suede Zurich because my feet aren’t as cute as they used to be! The one “concession” I’ve made to the aging process is the socks I wear with them in the cooler weather. Now it’s only those nifty (note word choice) mismatched socks made in VT! When you pull that gathered denim skirt out of the close “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair!”

  13. Huffygirl says:

    Wonderful memories Susan. Back when I was able to wear sandals I never wore Berks. They were too expensive for me then. I could buy them now, but alas, can’t wear sandals anymore. My throwback to my free spirit hippie days are denim jackets. But, I often get them at Talbots!

  14. notquiteold says:

    I may be a fashionista now, but in college I loved my birkenstocks with socks for the winter. Warm and comfy – and I thought it was very cool-looking too. Maybe we can bring back that trend.

  15. Dianna says:

    I’ve never owned a pair, but with all these pains in my feet, maybe now is the time!

    • Coming East says:

      I’ve never owned many shoes, Dianna, because it’s hard to find anything comfortable enough, so the ones I choose tend to be expensive. And Birkenstock sandals have to be broken in over the course of a week or two before they fit your foot. Then they feel amazing.

  16. lisakwinkler says:

    Hurray for happy feet! I never got into the Birkies.. but had my share of hippy sandals. When I started teaching I went for clogs— found the Dansko.com outlet store — clogs and sandals. Very hard to find anything else as comfortable. If I have to wear heels, it’s a problem!
    Yes, denim skirts— the best for sitting on the floor with the grandkids to play trucks!

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