Last summer I felt like a baseball scout trying to find the best prospect for his team. I was searching for the right pair of Birkenstocks to carry me through future seasons. I found a pair of Arizona’s in Copper and knew they would be the right addition to my wardrobe.
Unfortunately, this style was only sold in a narrow width in the US. I had struck out with this shoe because I require a regular width Birkenstock. At first, I was disappointed, but then I found a happy medium when I located the Mayari in Mirror Rose Gold. It turned out to be a great shoe for my needs. I wore the Mayari’s most of last summer and even took them on vacation to Mexico in November. The Mayari’s were the perfect shoe for work and play.
This summer, Birkenstock unveiled the Arizona in Copper, Silver, and Gold. I no longer wanted Copper because the Mirror Rose Gold is too similar in color. The Gold Arizona was going to be my summer sandal for 2016. However, once again, these beauties are not available in a regular width within the US. Since last summer, I have learned a great deal about how and where to locate Birkenstocks in my size. I went straight to my secret source in Germany to find the shoe. I was not going to strike out a second time in my attempt to add this chic shoe to my wardrobe.
Girls with wide feet like swanky shoes too and I am tired of feeling left out. I decided to step up to the plate and take matters into my own hands. I was going to order my shoes directly from Europe.
I placed the order from Germany and my shoes arrived 3 days later. Shoes ordered from Germany cost slightly less than one would pay for Birks in the US and I don't have to pay tax (which in California is 10%). The shoes that I have been trying to find for the past year, in my width, were quickly delivered to my door. Now that’s a win-win situation. The shoes got here faster than if I had ordered them from other reputable online shoe retailers in the US.
I thought I had hit a home run with the arrival of these shoes. I expected them to be fully broken-in within 1-2 weeks. That’s my typical break-in period. I was following the steps I presented in my “How to Break-In Your Birkenstocks” blog, yet these new shoes threw me a curveball. I continued to have hot spots from the straps even after 3 weeks of wear.
The footbed was not an issue, it was the straps that were causing me discomfort. These straps were much stiffer and more painful for me to break-in, compared to my Amalfi Leather Arizonas. I was going to need to take extra steps to loosen up the rigid straps.
After 3 weeks of wearing the shoes around the house, I felt like I had tried everything to break them in. I was heading into extra innings with the break-in process of these Gold Arizonas. It was time for me to look to the bullpen for some relief if I was going to win this game.
One day, my kids were playing baseball in the backyard. It gave me a brilliant idea. I needed to treat the stiff leather straps of the Arizonas, like they were a new leather baseball glove.
Not all new baseball gloves are game ready. In fact, most mitts need to be softened up before initial use. Akin to how Birkenstock shoes need to be broken-in before you wear them for long periods of time. Every baseball player has a different way that they want the glove to feel before using it in a game. I wanted the leather straps on my Gold Birkenstocks to loosen up before wearing them outdoors.
Ball players often use oil or cream to break-in their new leather mitts. I was going to attempt to soften the inside of the leather straps in the same way. I have leather conditioning cream that I considered using to do this, but I find this conditioner to be sticky, like honey. I did not need the straps to be sticky on my feet causing even more discomfort. I thought about what other oils I had around the house that I could utilize to alleviate some of the rigidity of the straps. I landed on coconut oil.
I have had great success using coconut oil for many different things. Cooking, baking, foot care, hair care, and even helping heal my dog’s skin issues. Coconut oil is a natural product that I knew, from experience, would not irritate my skin.
In addition to the coconut oil, I needed to smooth out of the rough edges of the straps. The leather was so rigid that parts of the edges were digging into my skin. I used sandpaper to lightly smooth down the areas creating problems.
I made a video demonstrating all the steps involved with this process:
The Items Needed To Soften Up Leather Birkenstock Straps:
How To Soften Up Leather Birkenstock Straps:
1. Unbuckle Straps
2. Expose the inside portion of the straps
3. Use sandpaper to lightly sand down the sharp edges
4. Only sand a little bit of the leather at a time. It does not take much sanding to smooth
the areas causing discomfort
5. Before applying coconut oil shake off leather shavings created from sanding
6. Put about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil onto a cotton swab
7. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil to the inside portion of the straps (Avoid getting oil
onto the finished uppers)
8. The coconut oil easily absorbs into the leather
9. If you find a greasy spot, use a paper towel to wipe it off
10. Buckle the straps
11. Put on a pair of socks walk around your home for about an hour to continue the
12. Take off the socks and walk around in the shoes
13. If you continue to have areas causing discomfort, repeat the above steps
14. Repeat this step by step process until the leather has softened to your liking
One of the reasons that I Love Birkenstocks is because with just a few simple steps, one can easily help facilitate the break-in process. Every ball player has a certain way that they want a new glove to feel before using it in game. Just as every individual has a unique preference to how soft one’s Birkenstock straps need to be before wearing them all day. After completing the aforementioned process twice, I think my shoes are now game ready.