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10 August 2014

Ugly shoes and liberation

ph //

Around about the time birks became big I made the same vow I made with wedged sneakers; I will not succumb to the pressure. I will resist and stay true to the fashion morals that I have held since I was yay-high (subsequently I can remember these because it wasn't really that long ago) that strictly banned Birkenstocks and those heeled converse that extended into the general branch of any kind of heeled sneaker. I'm proud to say I have resisted - call it stubbornness or a matter of principle. Both are probably more true than I care to admit. That being said, I have a lot of respect for ugly shoes.

Why? They represent a sartorial revolution of sorts being championed by the likes of Acne and Celine, those designers leading the way from what we conventionally see as beautiful and creating a space where beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Modern design and our approach to how we dress is becoming less and less about 'looking good' to others and more about a personal approach to how we want to look. The very notion of the 'ugly shoe' being something desirable is a nod to how free people, and in particular women, are becoming with regards to getting dressed in the morning. Birkenstocks, low hemlines and culottes are a middle finger to the idea that we have a societal dress code. This re-shaping and rejection of conventional beauty is liberating. It creates a space where we can push aside those things we are expected to wear to feel sexy, or attractive and embrace those feelings in our own way. We can own those terms instead of being owned by them.

Perhaps we can also say that in creating a space where traditional attractiveness is ignored and a maleable concept, the idea of choice becomes a reality. I have the choice to wear 'flattering' clothing and I have the choice to wear the sartorial equivalent of a tent. Perhaps this is most important to women; we can no longer be criticized for enjoying fashion and be told that we are objectifying ourselves. Any way that I choose to dress is underlined in freedom because there are two ends of the spectrum, not just the one side that pertains to convention and tradition. If I want to wear a bodycon or ankle length culottes, it is my choice. The rise of ugly shoes is just one way of showing how 21st century fashion is giving ownership of the term beautiful to the people. What better way to celebrate personal style than by giving people the option to define it themselves? So while I may not ever wear a pair of Birkenstocks, I'd like to give them a solid high five.


  1. So well-written! I, too, absolutely love the fact that we are now dressing as to how we really want to look instead of putting up a show. I think it's absolutely refreshing how fashion is taking things that we used to call ugly into something beautiful although I'm not looking forward to the day where Crocs become beautiful because I don't think it will be LOL. That's probably a different story.

    1. I absolutely despise those heeled converses but as you said it's nice that we can all dress in a way that suits us personally. However, I am also definitely not looking forward to the day Crocs may be seen as beautiful. I hope it never comes lol x

  2. Personal style is so important and women are definitely more accepting of their own these days

  3. Great post! It is definitely far more easy these days to dress free and differently, some might see it as ugly but this doesn't mean it isn't allowed and it is still respected.


  4. Gorgeous post.

    Would be happy to see you as a visitor on <3

  5. Yes! I adore this posts and your words. You are so right, and I am also really glad that fashion has made this stand. I think it shows how political and moral fashion can be, and that it is an important guise to act out passions, and in return it creates statements of its own. Love this so much, Camilla xx

  6. Style is personal, everybody should wear what they want - whether it is considered as ugly. I just love diversity. I love it when people have the guts to wear clothes, shoes or accessories that are a bit unusual or alternative.

    isa |

  7. Completely agree! I, for one, am not into heeled sneakers or the Birks either but I love the revolution of 'ugly' and unconventional trends that have changed the way that we dress.
    P.S. Lovely post - so well written :-) X

  8. What an amazingly well written post! Sums up my view on the ugly shoe topic completely. I love that fashion has become all about freedom to wear whatever you like, ugly shoes or not. In the end, what matters is your own personal opinion on what you're wearing (and that sounds bizarre in a world of fashion bloggers who basically live off the approval of others of their sartorial choices). I used to hate birkenstocks too, I even swore never to wear them because of their pure ugliness, but I've given in. BUT from now on I won't (or at least, try not to) judge anyone by what they are wearing! I'm trying to move away from fashion blogs who just wear anything that's OMGSOTRENDY and then toss it away because it's "out". People who wear what they want and feel confident, those are the ones that will last!

  9. great post


  10. A great, very well written post. In 2014 we can create fashion the way we want to!
    Faye Carter


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