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Last Updated on April 21, 2022
Quite often Birkenstocks are referred to as “Jesus Creepers” or “Jesus Sandals” because of their likeness to those (allegedly) worn by Jesus Christ way back in the day between 6 BC and 4 BC yet despite this, the iconic yet ugly “Dad Sandal” does have a bit of a cult following and I for one am definitely waving the Birkenstock flag proudly.
Birkenstocks have had a bit of a revival .. again, it seems to happen every couple of years to be honest, so I thought I’d write a little “how to” guide on Birkenstocks and how to get the right size and fitting, because getting your little pinky toe squished in a pair of shoes is far from comfortable.
I noticed that my first pair of Birkenstock Sandals did indeed play havoc with my toes, so much so that I had to stash them away in the closet for quite some time until my poor feet had recovered. Back then I was somewhat of a Birkenstock virgin and didn’t actually realise that they came in two width fittings – cue facepalm!
Need an Intro?: Complete Guide To All Birkenstock Sandal Styles (For Every Personality)
Birkenstock Widths Explained
All styles of Birkenstock footwear whether that’s sandals, flip flops or clogs are manufactured in two widths: R which is actually regular although means medium and N meaning narrow. An M sandal fits like a “regular” shoe or sandal, so if you have a wider foot opt for an M. An N sandal offers a slimmer fit for more petite feet.
However, having purchased both width sizes I have found that the Narrow fit doesn’t feel so tight or rub on my toes when the weather is slightly cooler and when my feet are less sweaty (nice huh?) and swollen but when the weather is warmer I definitely have to go for the M width – just to accommodate my hot, swollen, sweaty feet!
Are Birkenstocks True to Size?
Okay so the short answer is absolutely not. Although Birkenstocks are supposed to be “roomy” for reasons known only to God and the manufacturers, Birkenstock sizing can be pretty difficult to get right the first time, and to be perfectly honest with you it all depends on the style that you have chosen to go for.
Shoe size varies from style to style with classic sandals like the Arizona coming up on the large size, whereas the more feminine Gizeh and Miyari both tend to come up on the smaller size. Maybe it’s because the Arizona is a unisex style whereas the Gizeh and Miyari are primarily targeted towards the female foot. Who knows.
I would suggest having a good look through customer reviews to see what other people have said and what size they would suggest buying so you are pretty much guaranteed to get the perfect fit.
How to Measure Your Foot?
Do you remember going to the shoe store with your Mom and putting your foot into that contraption that measured your feet for the perfect fit for your school shoes? Yeah well, we don’t (by rights) have one of those at home so grab yourself a couple of pieces of A4 paper, a pencil and a ruler and we’ll begin.
Measure the Width Stand on the piece of paper with your heel against the wall and measure the width of your foot from the widest point to the widest point.
Measure the Length Stand on the piece of paper with your heel against the wall and measure the length of your foot from the heel, to the top of your big toe.
If there’s not enough space at the toe end of your sandal then your toes will get squashed so make sure you follow the guidelines I mention in this article to ensure you get the optimal fit for your new Birkenstocks.
Once you have these calculations you can go on the Birkenstock website, enter the details into the size calculator and voila!
How to Tell if Birkenstocks are Narrow?
Birkenstocks carry a symbol that indicates whether they are narrow or not. This can be found printed on the footbed of your sandal and should look like this.
How to Tell if Birkenstocks are Wide?
Birkenstocks carry a symbol that indicates whether they are wide or “regular” or not. This can be found printed on the footbed of your sandal and should look like this.
Read: The Great Birkenstock Footbed Debate: Soft v Regular, Is there a Difference? Does it Matter?
How Should Your Toes Fit in Birkenstock Sandals?
Okay so we’ve all seen people walking around in sandals with their hobbit like-toes poking through the front of them and curling over like talons on a Pterodactyl – no one likes to see that, especially when you are sitting at the beach with friends enjoying an ice-cream.
So, for the perfect fit it is recommended that you should have a 10mm gap between the top of your toes and the toe edge of the footbed of your new Birkenstock sandal.
How Should Your Heels Fit in Birkenstock Sandals?
It is recommended that there is a 5mm gap between your heel and the heel edge of the footbed for the most comfortable fir for your new Birkenstock sandals. Heels pouring out the back of your sandals is never a good look and is certainly not comfortable so ensuring your heel fits in your new Birkenstocks is essential
How Should the Straps Fit in Birkenstock Sandals?
No one’s feet are exactly the same so it is essentially all a matter of choice and also comfort – what works for one person might not necessarily work for someone else.
It’s best to stand in your new Birkenstocks with the straps undone to start with and make sure that your feet are comfortable in the footbed of your new sandals.
The footbed, ideally, is supposed to fit your foot but not be tight. If the straps are too tight they will make your feet swell up and dig in, if the straps are too loose the straps will rub and cause blisters.
It is essential that you adjust the straps accordingly.
Start with the lower strap, the one nearest your toes. Birkenstock recommend that you adjust the lower strap so that there is an approximate space of around 5 mm between the strap and the arch of your foot.
Again, as recommended by Birkenstock, there should be an approximate space of around 10 mm between the upper strap and the arch of the foot.
Once you have adjusted your straps walk a few feet and see how they feel. If they’re not super comfy and your feet are either sliding around in them or getting crushed then alter the straps until they feel comfortable.
There’s no right way or wrong way to adjust the straps, like I said, everyone’s feet are different and you need to find the right way of fastening your sandals for you.
Best Birkenstocks for Narrow Feet
If you are one of those ladies fortunate to have narrow feet rather than feet like a sasquatch then Birkenstocks are just perfect for you. They have a range of styles that are not only chic but also comfortable and purposely designed for those that have narrow, delicate, feminine feet. Here’s three of my absolute favorites :
Although the Arizona from BIRKENSTOCK is a true classic and great for those with the wider foot, this unisex two-strap sandal is now available in a very classy nu-buck leather edition, which is also available in a narrow width. The exposed selvedge finish on the leather emphasises the handcrafted and natural nature of these stylish sandals. Extra comfort is provided by the soft and comfy suede footbed.
Maximum comfort and a secure grip are guaranteed! The Kairo from BIRKENSTOCK combines a thong with a supportive ankle strap, making it ideal for both small and great adventures. The soft footbed provides extra comfort and pampers feet all day with its additional foam layer. The upper is crafted from soft, high-quality nu-buck leather with a natural, rustic look. Available in both regular and narrow width fittings in a range of colours that are both stylish and elegant.
The Zermatt is Birkenstocks first slipper with a detachable footbed that lets you pick from three different insoles. The Standard, Soft and Shearling Footbed are the three options and all are super comfortable.
Available in a range of colours and in a narrow as well as regular width fittings this slipper/shoe is a must have. Almost clog-like in it’s design the Zermatt is suitable for all seasons! With a natural design that feels like you are walking on sandy shores the Zermutt will keep you comfortable all day.
Best Birkenstocks for Wide feet
We’re not all blessed with feet like ballerinas, in fact the majority of us do in fact have regular or wider feet as the norm. I’ve picked out three Birkenstock styles that are perfect for wider feet which are not only comfortable but are super sexy and super stylish:
The Madrid Big Buckle
The BIRKENSTOCK Madrid is a true classic with a simplistic style that impresses the world of fashion. The Big Buckle variant has a huge, exquisite pin buckle that serves as a terrific, eye-catching focal point on this otherwise subtle sandal. The upper is constructed of high-quality nu-buck leather with a natural, which gives it a truly natural and rustic look.
The BIRKENSTOCK Tulum has a sporty look to it. The sandal’s distinctive and unusual style comes from the crossed straps and the heel strap. Additional eye-catchers include the color-co-ordinated buckles, which have a fabric feel and a suede matte design, not to mention the color-coordinated sole. The soft footbed provides extra comfort and literally pampers your feet all day with its additional foam layer. The upper is constructed of a luxurious suede material which is not only super soft and comfortable but oozes class and sophistication.
Okay so I couldn’t got without mentioning the BIRKENSTOCK Buckley. This super comfy piece of footwear is a semi-open moccasin-style clog with a thick cork sole that is instantly recognizable as a genuine BIRKENSTOCK original. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the eye-catching needlework which sets this clog apart from it’s competition. The sophisticated style of the shoe is completed by the color-coordinated footbed. The upper is constructed of high-quality nu-buck leather with a natural, rustic look.
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