You have hurt my feelings.
As a long-time, devoted Birkenstock wearer, I feel like I am being left out in the cold with your limited edition releases. Why? Simple. Your gorgeous limited edition sandals are only available in narrow width. This feels unfair and hurtful. All of us who require regular width Birkenstocks are left drooling with envy.
The limited edition Birkenstocks that you have unveiled for the Birkenstock Box openings have been amazing. I would have purchased one of each design, if these special Arizonas came in regular width. When I saw the sneak peak of your “Sweetheart Collection,” I immediately reached out to Birkenstock Attitudes to inquire if these Arizonas would be available in regular width.
I was informed, sadly, that this would be a narrow width limited edition release only (again).
Enough is enough.
I would like to direct this letter to the individual(s) who decided that only women with narrow feet should be given the opportunity to buy your limited edition shoes. Crunch the numbers, Birkenstock, there are hundreds of thousands of people worldwide that buy your regular width sandals. It is people like me, who are loyal, life-long customers that would love to get their hands on these rare Birks. Speciality lux Birkenstocks would fly off shelves in regular width.
I understand that you are appealing to the fashion world by slimming down the Arizona and only offering it in narrow. But your trendy fashionistas will only wear the shoe for one season and then move on to the next big trend. I would wear a limited edition lux Birkenstock for decades, with pride!! I am already your “Birkenstory” ambassador in the trenches, talking to everyday people on the street about my gorgeous Birkenstocks. People stop and ask me all the time where I bought my spotted metallic Birks. Imagine how many people would ask me about an eye catching limited edition Arizona.
Birkenstock, you are not just a trend. You are the foundation of peerless comfort. The entire reason that I, and countless other faithful Birkenstock wearers, choose your brand, is because your regular width sandals actually fit. Even though I have wide feet, I respect fashion and desire fashionable shoes. And you continue to ostracize people like me by releasing your limited edition sandals in narrow width only.
You are missing out on sales, and possibly losing customers, by excluding women with normal to wide width feet. If you offered these fashionable limited edition Birkenstocks in regular width too, you would continue to grow your devoted customer list, rather than pushing some of us away. I have already cheated on you with Fryes and Dr. Martens. Who’s to say what other brand might enter my closet in the near future?
Don’t try to tell me that narrow width Birkenstocks accommodate both narrow and medium widths. That is a bunch of baloney. There may only be a few millimeters between a narrow width and regular width footbed. Yet, every damn millimeter is needed for someone with a wide foot!
Any regular width Birkenstock connoisseur, like myself, knows that a narrow width Birkenstock is simply not up to snuff. The arch support is in the wrong place, the toe bar is off, and foot “spillage" occurs over the sides of the shoe. Wearing the wrong width Birkenstock, is like wearing the wrong size bra. Things turn ugly quickly when they do not fit correctly. There is nothing comfy or sexy about having a shoe make your wide foot look chubby due to “spillage”.
It is like you are chubby shaming those of us with wider feet. You are indirectly, passive aggressively telling us that our feet are too chubby to be fashionable. I do not want to be chubby shamed!!
If Birkenstock is known for making two widths, then make two widths available in every shoe that you offer. Especially your luxurious small batch Birks. Leave it up to the consumer to decide if s/he prefers narrow or regular width.
I will not subscribe to “vanity” sizing when it comes to the width of my foot. I embrace the fact that I have a wide foot and I will no longer squeeze my foot into a shoe that is too narrow. I have done that far too long in my life and I refuse to do it any longer. And I am certainly not going to drop $185, plus tax, for a narrow width Birkenstock. If I am going to pay that kind of money for something unique, then it damn well better fit perfectly!!
Please do not consider remedying your lack of regular width limited edition Arizonas by simply offering them in a different style, like a Gizeh or a Mayari. I don’t want another pair of Gizehs or Mayaris in regular width. While I adore the Gizeh and Mayaris that I do own, sometimes I feel like I have to settle for those models because they are always available in regular width.
I love the Birkenstock Arizona. It is hands down my favorite Birkenstock model ever. I wish to build my Arizona collection. I want access to the limited edition lux Birkenstock Arizonas in regular width. To me, Arizonas define the Birkenstock brand. The Arizona is iconic.
Lately, I feel like I have been in a perpetual state of disappointment when it comes to your limited edition releases. I realize that you are testing the waters with these small batch Birkenstock offerings. Trying to start a Birkenstock craze, like the Nike limited edition craze.
I would like to participate in this craze. I want to snatch up these small batch shoes and beef up my Arizona collection. I beg you to offer more than just your core collection in regular width. Brown, black, gray, and taupe get boring after awhile.
PLEASE, make your small batch Birkenstocks in *REGULAR* width!! Or just make one pair in size 38 Regular and send them to me.
Thank you for your consideration,
Dr. Martens are the first pair of non Birkenstock shoes that I bought in over a year. My purchase of the Dr. Martens was like opening the portal to an entirely new fashion dimension. Birkenstocks make me feel comfortable, happy, feminine, flirty, sporty, and luxurious. Dr. Martens make me feel like a strong, confident badass.
One has to be a badass to wear Dr. Martens because they are extremely difficult to break-in. Breaking-in Dr. Martens is the same as breaking-in Birkenstocks, but different. Kind of like “The Upside Down” in Netflix’s show, “Stranger Things” where everything is the same, but different.
For starters, breaking-in a pair of new Docs is much more difficult than breaking-in a pair of Birkenstocks. For those of you who want to complain about the pain associated with breaking-in a new pair of Birkenstocks, hold back your tears and suck it up. Unless you have broken-in a pair of Dr. Martens, you have nothing to cry about.
I broke in my first pair of Dr. Martens 27 years ago. It was such a painful experience that I still remember it today. I ended up having lots of blisters on my heels and aches on the top of my feet. Since I have become a wiz on breaking-in Birkenstocks, I decided to use the techniques that I have gathered, over the years, to make the process of breaking-in my Docs as pain free as possible.
If you have not already read my blogs, “How to Break-In Your Birkenstocks” and “How to Break-in Leather Birkenstock Straps”, I recommend you do so before ever slipping your foot into a pair of combat boots. These two blogs have provided the foundation for Gina Mama’s protocol for breaking-in Dr. Martens.
Gina Mama’s Protocol for Breaking-in Dr. Martens
1. Purchase your Dr. Martens from a legitimate retailer, there are just as many fake Docs being sold online as there are fake Birkenstocks.
2. Make sure you have the correct size of Dr. Martens.
3. Take them out of the box, bend and flex the shoes. A Dr. Marten sole should be somewhat firm, like a Birkenstock. If you can bend the shoe from heel to toe, then they are likely not authentic.
4. Put on the type of socks that you plan to wear with your Docs, then put your foot in the boot and lace them up. Lace your boots all the way up. Make sure they are not laced too tight. You do not want the laces to hurt your ankles or leg, just tight enough to keep the boot comfortably on your foot.
5. Walk around the house. The boots will be incredibly stiff. Make sure you have some room in the toe area and that you do not need a different size.
6. You do not want your feet to feel too constricted. If they do, then you may have the wrong size Doc.
7. Wear your shoes for about 5-10 minutes and take them off. Take note of the areas that might be tight or uncomfortable. Most people will feel pain in the heel area and on the instep seam, just below the tongue.
8. If your feet start hurting before 5 minutes, take them off.
9. After you take off your boots, remove your socks and pull out some moleskin or bandaids. Take preventative measures by applying a protective layer of moleskin to the areas that you felt immediate discomfort. I prefer to use moleskin over bandaids because moleskin stays on.
10. Once you have covered the sensitive areas of your feet, you are going to need to apply a leather conditioner to the entire boot. That’s right, you will want to apply leather conditioner to the outside and the inside of the boot. I used Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam because I bought traditional leather Docs. The Wonder Balsam will not work on suede or non leather Docs. Be sure to follow the instructions on the tin. The Wonder Balsam helps make the leather soft and supple. Thereby, lessening the overall break-in period of Dr. Martens boots.
11. Allow the Wonder Balsam to soak in 15-20 minutes. You can use an old rag to wipe off any excess balsam from the outside of the shoe after the allotted time frame. I left the extra balsam inside the boot and allowed my socks to remove the excess.
12. After the Balsam has worked its magic, put on the socks you want to wear with your Docs and then put on a second pair of socks. For my second pair of socks, I used the thickest LL Bean winter wool socks that I owned. The second layer of socks serves two purposes. One, it will help stretch out the leather and two, it will help prevent blistering during the break-in process.
13. Wear your shoes around the house for 30-60 minutes and take them off.
14. Add another layer of Wonder Balsam (or whatever leather conditioner you prefer) to the outside and the inside of your Docs. Let the leather conditioner soak in overnight. Wipe away any excess conditioner on the outside of the boot the following day.
15. While the conditioner soaks into your leather boots, slip on your most comfy pair of Birkenstocks. Your feet will need some Birkenstock therapy as they recover during the Dr. Marten break-in process.
16. The next morning, follow the aforementioned steps. If your moleskin has come off, re-apply. Put on two pair of socks, this time, wear your Docs a little longer than you did the previous day.
17. When the boots start hurting your feet, take them off. Put on your Birkenstocks, apply Wonder Balsam to the inside and the outside of your boot and allow the conditioner to soak in until the next day.
18. Follow these steps for the course of 2-3 weeks or until the Dr. Martens feel comfortable. You will know when your Docs are broken-in.
It took me about 2 weeks to feel comfortable enough to wear my Docs without moleskin and with one pair of socks. Every night, for nearly two weeks, I would put on my Docs in the evening while I prepared dinner and got the kids ready for bed. Once the kids were asleep, I sat down to watch an episode of "Stranger Things". As I watched the show, I removed my boots, slipped into my most comfy Bostons and then applied Wonder Balsam to my Docs. The boots were then set aside to soften up overnight.
As with Birkenstocks, Dr. Martens take a great deal of time to break-in. You need to allow your feet and body time to gradually adjust to the boot. The leather of your new combat boots need to soften gradually. Dr. Martens Wonder Balsam helps to soften the leather. But, your body weight and repeated bending of the shoes from normal wear is how the Docs and the AirWair sole will mold to the natural shape of your feet. Docs, like Birkenstocks, get more comfortable over time. I am very happy with how my Dr. Martens broke-in and I look forward to wearing them for years to come.
Is it so hard to believe that Gina Mama is happily wearing something besides Birkenstocks? Well..stranger things have happened.
Just as Birkenstocks were a staple in my wardrobe in the 1990s-2000s, so were my Dr. Martens. Docs might be the only other shoe, besides Birkenstocks, to which I have had an (un)healthy attachment. I got my first pair of Docs when I was 15 years old, one year prior to stepping into my first pair of Birkenstocks.
I drooled over Doc Martens for months before my mother reluctantly bought them for me. She thought they were “unfeminine” and did not understand my desire to own a pair. In fact, as I stated in my first ever blog, the only reason my mom ever purchased me a pair of Birkenstocks, was to see me wear something besides black combat boots.
Combat boots were everything in 1990s. They were fashion for the Goth scene, Punk rockers, Grunge rockers, and just about any other movement that dabbled in rebellion. Robert Smith, of The Cure, wore Doc Martens, therefore I needed a pair too. Anyone and everyone that followed The Cure needed a pair of black combat boots.
I was finally able to convince my mom to buy me a pair of Docs, only after Kelly and Donna, on Beverly Hills 90210, rocked their Docs with pretty flowery dresses. Kelly and Donna looked super stylish with their big combat boots and their baby doll dresses. I promised my mother that I would make the Docs feminine anyway I could, just to own a pair. Plus, I agreed to do extra household chores, in order to earn a trip to Bancroft Clothing in Berkeley. It was at Bancroft Clothing that I purchased my Docs.
Of course, once I got the shoes, I refused to wear a dress for ages. I was too busy styling my Docs with baggy jeans, flannel shirts, and homemade cut off jeans. Don’t worry, I never went fully Goth, like many of the other Cure followers.
Instead, I transitioned into the Grunge rock era of style and I made it my own. Just like I do with my Birkenstocks nowadays. In the 90s, I wore my Docs with anything and everything. I wore my combat boots everywhere and I wore them for years.
When I was not wearing my Birkenstocks in high school, I was wearing my Docs. I vividly remember wearing my Docs on the day I left home and drove down to college with my friend. I wore them throughout college; to classes, to parties, to the library, to study, and even to the beach. My Docs were the only pair of shoes that kept my feet dry during the 1995 Santa Barbara floods. I was wearing my Docs, in 1996, the day I shook President Clinton’s hand at a rally.
My docs were on my feet, with thick wool socks, whenever I traveled to Tahoe during winter breaks. Docs were my snow boots because they were waterproof and had superb grip. My Docs were the only shoes that I brought on a road trip from Colorado to California. I proudly sported my Docs while I interned at Live 105 in San Francisco in the mid 90s. I wore Docs in 1998 when I started dating my now husband. He hated them and I did not care. I wore them anyway. I wore my Docs to grad school orientation. I wore them throughout my internships, dressed up, of course. I wore my Docs until I got my first real job and then I put the Docs in the back of my closet, alongside my Birkenstocks.
I never donated my well loved combat boots. How could I? They held so many special memories and traveled all over the US. I stuck them in the back of my closet and could never let go. I even moved twice, never did I consider donating this staple of my wardrobe.
My Birkenstocks eventually wore out before my Dr. Martens. The Docs sat in my closet for over 10 years. Every once and a while I would take them out of the box and dust them off. Yes, I kept them in their original yellow box, with the original plastic baggie, and alternate yellow laces inside.
One winter day, two years ago I pulled them out of my closet because I decided it was time to add some funk to my minimalist wardrobe. I had the biggest smile on my face as I began to slip my foot into my broken-in Docs. Much to my dismay, my boots no longer fit me!! I jammed my foot in the boot like one of Cinderella’s evil step sisters, but the boot still did not fit. I even tried a thin pair of socks, then no socks, nothing worked.
After having two kids, my size 7 Doc Martens were too small. I was devastated. These boots held so many memories and were already broken-in. I would never get my foot to be a size 7 again, and yet, I STILL could not let the boots go. Back in the closet they went for another year.
Then, one day, when I did a massive declutter of my closet, I placed the Docs in a donation bag. Original box and all. A cobbler would not be able to stretch them out to accommodate my new foot size. Even though I realized that I could never wear them again, donating my Docs was an incredibly emotional process. Releasing these boots from my ownership upset me because of all the fond memories that I created while wearing them. The only thing that helped me get over my sadness, was knowing that they would bring someone else as much joy as they brought me.
Once I donated my Dr. Martens, I thought about getting a new pair. But, I was not ready to go through the break-in process, I was too busy chasing around toddlers. Besides, I was on my Birkenstock kick and only wearing my Birks at the time.
It was not until Christmas Eve 2017 that I decided I needed a new pair of Docs in my life. I was in the mist of a chocolate chip cookie baking frenzy when this Dr. Marten light bulb went off in my head. I was literally baking in my Birks and decided that I needed to wear something besides Birks. The first thought that popped in my head were my old combat boots and how comfy they were for well over a decade.
While the cookies were in the oven baking, I jumped on my computer and headed over to Zappos. They had a fine selection of Dr. Martens, just as they have a fine selection of Birks. As I was adding a pair of Docs to my cart, my husband walked into the room. He said, “Aren’t those so 1990s? You don’t need these.”. Mind you, this is the same person who hated them when we started dating. I did not care what he thought about my shoe selection in 1998 and I certainly don’t care now. He left the room and I added two more pair to my cart!!
Tell me not to do something, gosh darn it, I am going to do it. Remember, this is Brehm’s (1966) Reactance Theory that I talked about in a previous blog. I am going to wear whatever shoe brand is comfortable and whatever brand that makes me happy. I don’t care what anyone thinks about it!!
Why did I order three pairs of Dr. Martens? Simple, with kids, I cannot go to the store to try on shoes. Doing so would be like banging my head on the wall, repeatedly, while someone is yelling at me. Online shoe shopping is the only way to go when you have kids.
I knew that all three Doc styles would fit differently and wanted to compare them. I needed to do so in the comfort of my own home, in silence (no head banging, no screaming). Thankfully, Zappos offers speedy shipping and makes returns easy. I love Zappos.
After I ordered my Docs, my dear friend stopped by for some afternoon wine and cookies on Christmas Eve. The same friend that I drove down to College with in 1993. Ironically, she was wearing her Docs. They looked brand spanking new, but she has had them since 1999. After a few glasses of some incredible Napa Valley wine, we talked about how Docs have been part of our lives for decades. We were friends before either of us ever owned a pair of Docs. She knows how I wore the hell of out of my original pair of combat boots.
My original boots were made in England. None of the Docs that I purchased from Zappos were made in England. Although I would prefer my Docs to be made in the country in which they originated, I could turn a blind eye if they fit.
Fit they did. All three fit, but in very different ways. If you wear Birkenstocks, think of having only worn Arizonas and then you decide to try the Gizeh style. Same, but different. I ended up keeping the Pascals in Cherry Red Temperley. My first pair were the 1460s in the black. I decided to up the ante and try a new style in a beautiful color.
Even though the boots fit, they were stiff as could be. They were most definitely going to need to be broken-in, just like any new pair of Birks would need to be. If I can break-in Birkenstocks, I can break-in anything!! Besides, I successfully broke-in Dr. Martens once before, 27 years ago. I could do it again.
Thankfully, I am an expert at breaking-in Birks. I figure that the tips and techniques that I used in two previous blog posts (here and here) will help me break-in my new Docs.
I am going to document the process of breaking-in my Docs and report back in a future blog. I will compare and contrast breaking-in Docs versus breaking-in Birkenstocks.
Dr. Martens are the only other brand of shoes, besides Birkenstocks, that actually get MORE comfortable over time. I am confident that my commitment and dedication to the break-in process will be well rewarded. In the end, I should have a perfectly conformed Dr. Martens boot. Instead of contoured cork footbed, as I would get with Birkenstocks, I will have an Air Wair footbed that will be perfectly molded, along with leather uppers that have taken the shape of my entire foot.
Wish me luck. I am going to need it. Have you broken-in a pair of Dr. Martens? If so, what techniques do you suggest that may differ from breaking-in Birkenstocks. Send me an email.
Birkenstock blogger since 2016.