Birkenstocks are not just for hippies or hipsters. Even elderly individuals love to wear Birkenstocks. The other day I met a woman in her late 90s who only wears Birkenstocks. You might think that because she is an older adult that her doctor prescribed Birkenstocks for a medical condition. That’s not the case at all. She wears Birkenstocks because they are comfortable and she likes them.
I met this woman at the store and we had a long conversation about Birkenstocks. This person has been wearing Birkenstocks for decades. She was born in Germany and was introduced to this brand of shoe as a child. Wearing Birkenstocks has been part of her entire life. When she moved to the US in the 1960s, Birkenstocks had became fashionable in America. In fact, she introduced many of her American friends to Birkenstock shoes during the 1960s.
This person continued her Birkenstock wearing tradition even as the fad phased out in the US. She returned to Germany each year to visit her family. Every time she journeyed to her home country, she purchased a new pair of Birkenstocks. Over the course of decades, she has amassed quite the collection of vintage Birkenstocks.
Birkenstocks are highly durable shoes and can last decades. She informed me that she has many pairs of Birkenstocks that have been resoled, recorked, and/or repaired over the years. She has not traveled out of the country for over a decade and has not purchased a new pair of shoes since her last trip. She told me, “my Birkenstocks last me ages and I have not had to buy a new pair of shoes for 12 years”.
The day I met her, I was wearing my gold Arizonas. I shared with her my story behind the shoes. She wasn’t that impressed. She tells me that one woman with whom she is friends has the same shoes, but “she’s really a young girl and likes flashy things”. Turns out that “young” girl is in her 80s.
This person clearly did not like my trendy gold Birkenstocks. She is a self admitted Birkenstock purist. She likes her Birkenstocks in neutral colors. She only wears open toe Birkenstocks and never, ever wears her Birkenstocks with socks. When I asked her how she manages the winter months in open toed Birkenstocks, she looked at me sideways and said “we live in California, we don’t need socks”.
Though she did wish she was wearing socks the day she stubbed her toe on a sharp object. She said her toe bled like crazy. She mentioned these days that she is extra cautious when wearing her open toed shoes to prevent other accidental cuts.
I asked her if she has ever worn the Boston model Birkenstock. She said “no, I hate the Bostons. I have one pair and I never wear them. I like my toes to be free”. I told her I love my Bostons and wear them all winter long and even keep a pair under my bed to wear as slippers.
When I mentioned slippers I saw her face light up. She said she recently went to a lecture given by the local Fire Marshall and he recommended that everyone keep a closed toe pair of shoes under their bed in the event of an earthquake. (Remember, we live in the Bay Area). The Fire Marshall explained that one of the biggest dangers after an earthquake is the broken glass. She said, “I am going to put my Bostons under my bed as my emergency shoes. Finally they will be of use to me.” She continued to explain that the last thing she would want to deal with after the next big earthquake is walking on broken glass.
Before I left, I asked her which style of Birkenstocks were her favorite. She said, “they are all my favorite because the help relieve my back pain.”
It’s amazing to think that she and I wear Birkenstocks for the exact same reasons, even though I am 50+ years young than her. It just goes to show that Birkenstocks are not just for hippies or hipsters. All people, young and old, love to wear Birkenstocks!
Family, friends, and co-workers keep asking me, “Gina Mama, how many pairs of Birkenstocks do you have?” Blog readers, Facebook “friends”, and Instagram followers all want to know the same thing. I get asked this question at least twice a day.
I have several answers to this repetitive question, “I don’t know”, “I have never counted them before”, “too many”, “not enough,” “I really couldn’t tell ‘ya because the number is constantly fluctuating,” or “I’m going to write a blog about it”. People laugh off my answer the first time, but ask me again, getting another vague answer.
I have been avoiding giving a definitive answer because I am a socially conscious individual. I know that people are struggling every day to make ends meet. I don’t want to throw out a number because I don’t want to appear that I am gloating or bragging in anyway. This is not who I am. I am a giver. I say don’t brag about what you have, brag about what you can give instead.
My blog was created to give you information about Birkenstocks. It’s a forum to share what I have learned about this amazing brand. It’s about my life adventures while wearing Birkenstocks. It’s not about how many Birkenstocks are in my closet.
When someone asks me how many Birkenstocks I own, it makes me want to shut down. It’s like someone asking me how much I weigh. To me, the question is inappropriate. Even though I work-out everyday and eat a vegetarian diet, I don’t have the body of a super model. If I were to tell someone how much I weigh, I would feel like I didn’t measure up to a certain standard. If I told the world how many Birkenstocks I have in my closet, I would be judged: positively and/or negatively. Although some people might enjoy knowing the answer, others might think I have too many.
Do I have too many Birkenstocks? Well that depends on who you ask. Shoes are just my thing. Some people have a thing for watches, others for handbags. Some people like collecting cars, others jewelry. I am not a collector of Birkenstocks, I just own more than one pair. I like Birkenstocks because they make my feet happy, therefore I have multiple pairs.
Unlike a pair of jeans, my Birkenstocks always fit and never go out of style. The only time my shoe size fluctuated was when I was pregnant. My weight can change daily. One day a certain pair of jeans may fit, another day they may not. When a pair of jeans don’t fit well it affects my mood. I never have this problem with Birkenstocks because they always fit. Birkenstocks don’t wound my self-esteem. Since Birkenstocks make me emotionally satisfied I have more than one pair.
I will admit to having certain categories of Birkenstocks. I have Birkenstocks for walking or lounging, others for work or dress up and some for fall and winter.
I guarantee you that every pair of Birkenstocks in my closet sees the light of day. Living in the Bay Area, the weather is constantly changing. I never know what pair I might wear from one day to the next. I may wear a pair of Boston clogs in the middle of August because it is freezing and a pair of Gizehs in late October because of a heat wave. Birkenstocks in the Bay Area are not seasonal and various models can be worn all year round.
I have mentioned in previous blog posts about Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. One of the themes of this book is to only keep things in your life that make you happy. Birkenstocks make me happy. They add style to my wardrobe, keep my feet and back healthy, plus they put a smile on my face each time I slip my feet into a pair.
In the past, I had a number of shoes in my closet that I only wore a handful of few times. Many of these shoes felt comfortable when I tried them on in the store, but caused foot discomfort if worn for long periods of time. Other shoes I rarely wore because I liked them so much that I didn’t want them to get damaged. I felt like I had to “save” them for special occasions. This is not the case with my Birkenstocks. I don’t “save” certain pairs for fear of wearing them out. Birkenstocks highly durable and they are fully repairable. Therefore, if something happens to a pair of my Birkenstocks, I can have them repaired. I love all my Birkenstocks and I wear all my Birkenstocks. Plus, the longer you wear a pair of Birkenstocks, the more comfortable they become.
I love that Birkenstocks become more comfortable overtime. Shoes are an extension of our bodies. What better way to extend your body then with a pair of shoes that mold to your feet? Because Birkenstocks are an extension of my body and they bring me happiness, I have several pairs.
I may not have as many Birkenstocks as you might think. Afterall, I live in a typical Bay Area home with ultra small closets. I don’t have a lot of room for excess. I don’t have a 1,000+ pair of shoes like Imelda Marcos. I don’t have a closet of expensive designer shoes like Carrie Bradshaw.
I don’t have a dedicated closet just for my Birkenstocks. I have a simple hand-made shoe rack in my closet that holds all my Birkenstocks, plus a few other non Birkenstock shoes. Everything fits onto this wooden shoe rack that may dad custom made for me when I left for college.
Having said all that, are you still wanting to know how many Birkenstocks I own? Well, let me tell you.....I have just the right number of Birkenstocks to happily support my feet (soles) and my emotional needs (soul).
I Love Birkenstocks and I have just enough pairs to meet all my needs.