Our Guide To Birkenstock Sandals: Spring & Summer

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I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation for writing various blurbs, write-ups, let’s be honest… “dissertations” for The Mom Edit on a range of certain shopping endeavors…most notably jeans, white tees, joggers, and Birkenstocks.

I cherish a good wear-on-repeat closet find (especially in the comfort shoe and Birkenstock category), and am never afraid of a shopping research deep dive when it comes to these types of comfortable closet staples.

This Ultimate Guide To Birkenstocks may be my most extensive comfort shoe research yet!

Silver Birkenstocks

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Bloomies | Birkenstock

I can’t help myself. When I find a certain brand or style of shoes that I adore and wear on repeat (in this case…Birkenstocks), it seriously feels like I’ve won the fashion lottery.

I’m then compelled to take it a step further…doing the research on more styles of that particular brand, design variations, colorways, materials, etc. Visiting the stores, placing the online orders, doing the try-ons…all with the goal of finding the VERY best.

I then, of course, like to share my findings and allllllll my ridiculously strong opinions with you guys. So…here we go!

Birkenstock Sandals: My Top Pick For Comfort & Style

**If you’re in a hurry, start here: A Cheat Sheet To The BEST Birkenstock sandals .**

Birkenstock Madrid

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Free People | Birkenstock

Birkenstocks are a long-time absolute comfort shoe favorite of mine. I wear various pairs all year long during all four of Philly’s seasons. If you want a quick and dirty most worn in my closet right now, it’s…

Especially in the spring and summer months, it is very challenging for me to choose anything OTHER than Birkenstocks when walking out the door. For summer travel, I’ll often pack heels and stylish platform sandals or clogs, but end up happily wearing my Birkenstocks the entire time. 

Easy, comfortable, supportive, and now with a wild amount of buckle and color and material options…they’re plenty stylish too! 


How To Find The Best Birkenstocks For You

Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle

Where To Buy: Saks | Nordstrom

To assist with the trickiness of finding your own favorite Birkenstock summer sandal, I provide a LOT of information in this post. My own personal favorite styles, fit notes, the explanation of the super confusing Birkenstock widths, and selfies of TONS of Birkenstocks.

The good news? You’re getting details, opinions, and photos of LOTS of Birkenstocks. The bad news? This post is long…like REALLY long. Below is the table of contents so you can CLICK and be taken directly to the section you’re most interested in…or take the time to peruse the whole post and see what catches your eye.



1. The Best Birkenstock Sandals: A Cheat-Sheet

The Best Birkenstocks

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2. Birkenstock Madrid

Birkenstock Madrid Big Buckle

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Free People | Birkenstock

No debate here, my personal Birkenstock most-worn for years has been the Birkenstock Madrid. I love the clean lines, easy off & on design, comfortable and supportive footbed, and the style and color variations. If you can’t wear a single strap, though, go for the double-strapped Arizonas which have a very similar design and are also a personal top pick.

a. Madrid Big Buckle Patent Leather: Chic & Polished

Birkenstock Madrid High Shine

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Free People | Saks | Birkenstock

Pros: The most “non-Birk looking” Birks I own (for those of you not sold on typical Birk styles); comfortable; walkable; adjustable strap; look pretty with EVERYTHING (dresses, denim, pants, shorts…the list goes on); I LOVE the shiny patent leather versions (super chic), shiny versions hold up exceptionally well and don’t show wear and tear as much as the regular leather version with suede footbeds; was nervous about the shine coating on the footbed (and possible sweat issues), but have been completely happy with the feel.

Cons: People either love or hate the Madrids and love or hate Birkenstock’s high shine leather; some people’s feet slip out of Madrids while they’re walking(if this is you, try adjusting the strap or go with the Arizonas in the same gorgeous colorways and big buckle options); the patent (high shine leather) is stiffer and harder to the touch than the nubuck, oiled leather, and synthetic versions (see notes at the bottom of post about my breaking in experience with these Birkenstocks); some folks have issues with the buckle digging in to their feet (I haven’t experienced this); no soft footbed option in the Madrids.

Birkenstock Madrid Patent Leather Big Buckle HIgh Shine

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Free People | Saks | Birkenstock
Dress (S) | Bag | Shirt (S) | Denim (29) | Bag

Sizing: Size down. I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I size down to a 37 in the Birkenstock Madrid sandals. I have a wide-ish foot (I don’t typically need wide sizing, but very narrow styles don’t fit my foot), and the narrow/medium (A-B width) in this Birk fits me well. Note: Some retailers describe the width as “medium”, but they’re actually referencing the A-B narrow/medium width that I’m wearing. Zappos describes their selection as “narrow”, but it’s the narrow/medium A-B that fits me, so don’t be afraid to buy at Zappos! If you need wider sizing, go to Birkenstock’s site and select C-D width.

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b. Madrid Big Buckle Nubuck & Oiled Leather: The Elegantly Simple One

Birkenstock Madrid Big Buckle Leather Pink

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Free People | Birkenstock

Pros: Comfortable; walkable; adjustable strap; this style looks pretty with EVERYTHING; Madrid Big Buckles are the most “non-Birk looking” Birks I own (for those of you not sold on typical Birk styles); beautiful neutral color options in the oiled and nubuck leather; the leather is a bit softer and more flexible than the high shine leather versions of the Madrid.

Cons: People either love or hate the Madrids; some people’s feet slip out while they’re walking (if this is you, try adjusting the strap or go with the Arizonas in the same gorgeous colorways and big buckle options); some people find the leather and/or buckle uncomfortable (see my notes at the bottom of the post about my breaking in experience with these Birkenstocks); does not come in soft footbed options.

Birkenstock Madrid Big Buckle

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Free People | Birkenstock
Dress (S) | Shirt (MP) | Denim (29) | Bag

Sizing: Size down. I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I size down to a 37 in the Birkenstock Madrid sandals. I have a wide-ish foot (I don’t typically need wide sizing, but very narrow styles don’t fit my foot), and the narrow/medium (A-B width) in this Birk fits me well. Note: Some retailers describe the width as “medium”, but they’re actually referencing the A-B narrow/medium width that I’m wearing. Zappos describes their selection as “narrow”, but it’s the narrow/medium A-B that fits me. If you need wider sizing, go to Birkenstock’s site and select C-D width.

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c. Madrid Birko-Flor: The Madrid I Hate

Birkenstock Madrid Birko-Flor

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | More Colors |Birkenstock

Pros: More budget-friendly than the other Madrids; suede comfortable and supportive footbed; skinnier buckle and strap (if that appeals to you); synthetic material used for strap with fleece-y lining; Birkenstock describes this material as “skin-friendly”; good option for people who don’t like the typical Birkenstock leather strap material.

Cons: I don’t like the way the skinny strap and buckle look on my feet…like I don’t like it…at.ALL!; synthetic “skin-friendly” material didn’t feel THAT different to me once on my foot (but I don’t have problems with Birkenstock’s typical leather material); if you have difficultly keeping the regular Madrid on your feet, you’re likely going to have the same issue with this skinny strap style; no wide sizing, no soft footbed options.

Madrid Birko-Flor Birkenstock

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | More Colors | Birkenstock
Jumpsuit | Bag | Denim | Top | Bag

Sizing: Size down. I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I size down to a 37 in the Birkenstock Madrid sandals. I have a wide-ish foot (I don’t typically need wide sizing, but very narrow styles don’t fit my foot), and the narrow/medium (A-B width) in this Birk fits me well. No wide sizing in this style. Note: Some retailers describe the width as “medium”, but they’re actually referencing the A-B narrow/medium width that I’m wearing. Zappos describes their selection as “narrow”, but it’s the narrow/medium A-B that fits me.

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3. Birkenstock Arizona

Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle

Where To Buy: Saks | Nordstrom | Anthro

If your feet don’t like the one strap Madrid, the classic double strap Arizona is my other top pick and quickly joining the Madrids in the most-worn category. And this style, in particular has SOOOOO many variations and fresh updates that keep things interesting in the Birkenstock world.

a. Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle: Fresh Take On A Classic

Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle

Where To Buy: Saks | Nordstrom | Anthro

Pros: Comfortable; walkable; adjustable straps; my top pick for a Birkenstock slide if the Madrids don’t work for your feet; same big buckle styling that I LOVE but with two straps for added security and a classic Birk look; fabulous selection of colorways. I love the look of the Arizonas in particular with all the wide-leg jeans and pants.

Cons: A bit heavier looking than the more delicate Madrids (especially with dresses); although I LOVE the way the glossy colors look, they are a little stiffer initially and rub a bit more when breaking in. That said, however, any break in period is totally worth it because I adore mine.

Birkenstock Arizona Outfit

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Anthro
Jumpsuit | Bag | Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Size down. I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I size down to a 37 in the Birkenstock Arizonas. I have a wide-ish foot (I don’t typically need wide sizing, but very narrow styles don’t fit my foot), and the narrow/medium (A-B width) in the Birkenstock Arizonas fits me well. Note: Many retailers describe the width as “medium”, but they’re referencing the A-B width that Birkenstock calls “narrow/medium”. If you need wide sizing, Zappos carries both “narrow/medium A-B” and “wide regular/wide C-D” sizing.

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b. Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed: For Sensitive Soles

Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed Silver

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Bloomies | Birkenstock

Pros: Softer footbed (has an extra foam layer) for those with more sensitive feet; extra shock-absorbing; soft suede mold-to-your foot footbed, come in the BEST metallic options as well as the traditional softer suede and leather straps.

Cons: I wish this style came in a big buckle option; the metallics take a bit longer to soften than the suede and regular leather, but I think it’s worth it..such a fresh Birk look!

Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Bloomies | Birkenstock
Jumpsuit | Bag | Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Per usual with Birkenstocks, I size down. I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I size down to a 37 in these. I have a wide-ish foot (I don’t typically need wide sizing, but very narrow styles don’t fit my foot), and the narrow/medium (A-B width) in the Birkenstock Arizonas fits me well. Note: Many retailers describe the width as “medium”, but they’re referencing the A-B width that Birkenstock calls “narrow/medium”. If you need wide sizing, Zappos carries both “narrow/medium A-B” and “wide regular/wide C-D” sizing.

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c. Papillio By Birkenstock Chunky Arizona: The Bold One

Birkenstock Papillio Chunky

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Anthro | Birkenstock

Pros: On-trend; bold and playful look; beloved Birkenstock comfort, firm supportive feel despite “squishy platform look”; I like the streamlined single color versions, but available in other materials/contrasting colors as well.

Cons: For those of you who like squishy platform pillow slides, these are NOT that (these are firm and supportive); less classic in style than other Birks; I LOVE them right now, but worry I may grow tired of the style.

Birkenstock Chunky Arizona Outfit

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Anthro | Birkenstock
Jumpsuit | Bag | Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Per usual with Birkenstocks, I size down. I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I size down to a 37 in these. I have a wide-ish foot (I don’t typically need wide sizing, but very narrow styles don’t fit my foot), and the narrow/medium (A-B width) in the Birkenstock Arizonas fits me well. Note: Many retailers describe the width as “medium”, but they’re referencing the A-B width that Birkenstock calls “narrow/medium”. I have not found this particular pair in wide sizing.

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4. Papillio By Birkenstock Wedges

Soley Wedge Papillio Birkenstock Best Travel Shoe

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Birkenstock

When it comes to travel sandals that you can ACTUALLY walk in (even on cobblestones) and that are ACTUALLY supportive for all day sight-seeing and that are ACTUALLY versatile for dressing up a bit at night, Papillio by Birkenstock wedges are hard to beat. Several styles available, and I’m a huge fan of their supportive footbed (of course), but also their versatility.

a. Papillio By Birkenstock Soley Wedge: Your New Travel Sandal

I'm looking forward to the Soley being a new go-to travel shoe to wear for dressy-ish or all-day walking (they're THAT comfortable).

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Birkenstock

Pros: SUPER comfortable; very supportive contoured footbed with nice arch support; top and bottom strap both adjustable; ankle strap for added security; lovely vintage-y vibe with simple buckles; these have a permanent place in my forever-closet due to their versatility; can work for dressy-ish or all-day walking (they’re THAT comfortable); perfect for travel.

Cons: Not modern or trendy; the leather is typical Birkenstock leather (not buttery soft like some sandal brands); not as many color options as I would like, no wide sizing available; if you’re looking for a squishy soft wedge footbed these aren’t for you…these are very firm.

Birkenstock Soley

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Birkenstock
Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Size down (like the other Birks above). I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I sized down to a 37 in these. I have not found this particular Birkenstock in wide sizing. Nordstrom, Zappos, and Birkenstock all carry the same “narrow/medium A-B” widths.

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b. Papillio By Birkenstock Glenda Wedge: An Everyday Minimalist Sandal

Papillio By Birkenstock Glenda Wedge Sandal is a perfect minimalist everyday sandal.

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Anthro

Pros: SUPER comfortable; SUPER supportive footbed; ankle strap for added security; minimalist classic styling without the prominent buckle hardware of the Soleys; versatile; great option as a travel or everyday shoe that could be worn easily with dresses or casual with jeans/pants/shorts for everyday exploring.

Cons: Not trendy or very modern in style (could even be considered “boring”); color options/hardware aren’t very exciting; leather is typical Birkenstock leather (not as buttery soft as some comfort sandals); no wide sizing; firm footbed (not soft & squishy…if that’s your preference).

Birkenstock Glenda

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Anthro
Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Size down (like the other Birks above). I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I sized down to a 37 in these. I have not found this particular Birkenstock in wide sizing. Nordstrom, Zappos, Anthro, Bloomies, and Birkenstock all carry the same “narrow/medium A-B” widths.

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c. Papillio By Birkenstock Almina : The Slip-On Platform Wedge

Birkenstock Wedge Almina

Where To Buy: Anthro | Nordstrom | Birkenstock

Pros: Wide straps and adjustable buckle increases stability for a slide style; minimal angle on wedge (if the Soley is too much for you); easy slip on & off slide style; typical firm Birkenstock supportive footbed; neutral versatile simple styling; the leather on this particular pair feels softer and more flexible than the leather on my Soleys; buckle feels fresher than the other two wedge styles I featured.

Cons: If you like a squishier softer platform sandal, these aren’t for you. Birkenstock wedges and platforms have a very firm footbed; only one strap is adjustable; no wide sizing. Fine neutral style, but nothing special…didn’t get me super excited.

Birkenstock Almina Outfit

Where To Buy: Anthro | Nordstrom | Birkenstock
Jumpsuit | Bag | Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Size down (like the other Birks). I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I sized down to a 37 in these. I have not found this particular Birkenstock in wide sizing. Zappos, Anthro, Nordstrom, & Birkenstock all carry the same “narrow/medium A-B” widths, which fits me (even though I have a wide-ish foot).

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5. Birkenstock Gizeh

Birkenstock Gizeh

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Backcountry

Although my favorite Arizonas and Madrids that I reviewed in my first selfie section are beloved classics, the Gizeh is a crowd favorite for sure (if you’re a soft footbed fan, there are a few options here). A classic style with several variations available right now.

a. Birkenstock Gizeh Big Buckle: A Crowd-Fave Flip-Flop

The classic Birkenstock flip-flop, but now available with a modern big-buckle design and new colors and materials; comfortable; walkable; adjustable strap; available in medium and wide sizing


Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Anthro | Birkenstock

Pros: You can now go with a classic Birkenstock flip-flop or a an updated big-buckle style; lots of colors, styles, and materials; comfortable; walkable; adjustable strap; available in medium and wide sizing; HUGE range of colors and variations; style can be dressed up a bit (especially with the slightly shimmery/glossy colors); look great with summer dresses; can be worn with jeans, pants, and shorts too; a HUGE crowd favorite (tons of readers love these and years of good reviews).

Cons: This particular mud green I’m wearing above feels too heavy for my summer wardrobe and are sold out most places (lots of other colors available, though); although the between-the-toe thingy is WAY more comfortable on these Gizehs than the Braided Gizehs, these still aren’t my personal favorite for flip-flops; my feet still like the classic FitFlop Lulus better for comfort when it comes to flip-flop styling.

Birkenstock Gizeh

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Anthro | Birkenstock
Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Size down and pay attention to width on this one. I wear the narrow/medium A-B width in most Birkenstocks, but in the Gizehs I’m wearing a regular/wide C-D. I have a wide-ish foot but typically do not take “wide” sizing. Wearing a 37 (typically I wear a 7 or 7.5).

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b. Birkenstock Gizeh Braided Flip Flop: The Ones I HATE!

Birkenstock Gizeh Braided Flip Flop

Where To Buy: Nordstrom

Pros: Beautiful braided design; LOVE the cognac color; same comfortable footbed as my other Birks.

Cons: UGH! Horrifically uncomfortable for my feet! I couldn’t get these off fast enough; they have a completely different between-the-toe thingy than the big-buckle Gizehs — very rough, stiff, and painful; if you love this style and are used to between-the-toe thingies and breaking them in go for it, but no, no, no for MY feet.

Birkenstock Gizeh

Where To Buy: Nordstrom
Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Like the other Gizehs, I’m wearing a 37 C-D regular/wide sizing (despite wearing A-B narrow/medium sizing in other Birks).

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6. Birkenstock Milano

Birkenstock Milano Slingback

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Shopbop

Pros: Same look/feel/fit as the Arizonas, same beloved footbed and support but for those who like a slingback strap; available in classic styles, but also the chunky Papillio, the shearling-lined , as well as the big buckle patent; I personally like the style update of both the patent leather AND the big buckle for the Milano.

Cons: If your feet have a hard time with the breaking-in period of any of the Birkenstock straps, another strap on the back means more touching and rubbing against your foot; it’s personally a little too much shoe for me, and I prefer the double strap Arizona or the single strap Madrid.

Birkenstock Milano Slingback outfit

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Shopbop
Jumpsuit | Bag | Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Size down. I wear a 7 in most sandal brands, a 7.5 in most boots, and I sized down to a 37 in the Birkenstock Milanos and still have plenty of room.

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7. Birkenstock Franca Softbed

Birkenstock Franca Softbed: The Comfy Earthy One

Where To Buy: Bloomies | Birkenstock

Pros: Immediately comfortable with some nice give in the straps; because the straps on the Francas are thinner than my typical Madrids and Arizonas they instantly felt softer and more flexible; all three straps are adjustable to create a perfect fit; although I’ve always loved Birkenstock’s standard footbed I’m definitely not complaining about the softer footbed on these Francas (a bit more cushion, but doesn’t sacrifice the support I’ve come to love in the Birkenstock footbed).

Cons: I personally don’t love the style as much as the Madrids, Arizonas, and Gizehs; the Francas have more of the traditional earthy Birk look that doesn’t fit as well with my go-to summer/spring outfits.

Birkenstock Franca

Where To Buy: Bloomies | Birkenstock
Denim | Similar Sweater | Bag

Sizing: Similar to the Gizehs, pay attention to the width on this one and size down. I wear the narrow/medium A-B width in most Birkenstocks, but in the Gizehs and the Francas I’m wearing a regular/wide C-D. I have a wide-ish foot, but typically do not take “wide” sizing. Wearing a 37 (typically I wear a 7 or 7.5).

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8. Water-Friendly Birkenstocks

Honolulu EVA Birkenstock

Where To Buy: Zappos

Yep… Birkenstocks for EVERYTHING summer…including water play. EVA Birkenstocks are always packed for any of my warm-weather vacations and adventures involving any kind of water. They’re an essential.

a. Birkenstock EVA Honolulu Flip-Flop : Waterproof Flip-Flops

Birkenstock Honolulu Flip-Flop or Arizona EVA's: Water-Friendly.

Where To Buy: Zappos

Pros: I’ve worn and loved this exact flip-flop for years when I’m around water; I’m typically a FitFlop fan for my flip-flops, but actually prefer the Birkenstock Honolulu to the equivalent water-friendly style from FitFlop; wildly lightweight, beloved contoured supportive Birkenstock footbed; easy to clean with a simple rinse.

Cons: The Honolulus are hard to find in stock and are available in very limited colors- Boo!; I love the comfort of the Arizona EVA’s as an alternative, but I’m hoping they bring the Honolulu’s back in the bronze and gold and other colors.

Waterproof Birkenstock Honolulu  EVA

Where To Buy: Zappos
Denim | Bag | Cover Up | Big Bag

Sizing: Size down (like almost all other Birkenstock styles).

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b. Birkenstock EVA Arizona: Waterproof Sandals

Birkenstock EVA Arizona Water Friendly

Where to Buy: Nordstrom | Anthro

Pros: Wildly lightweight, beloved contoured supportive Birkenstock footbed; both straps adjustable; amazing for travel; easy to clean with a simple rinse.

Cons: Wish they came in the big buckle style; wish they came in more shades of neutrals (tans, coppers, etc).

Where to Buy: Nordstrom | Anthro
Denim | Bag | Cover Up | Big Bag

Sizing: Size down (like almost all other Birkenstock styles).

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9. Soft Footbed Birkenstocks

Birkenstock Soft Footbed

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Bloomies | Birkenstock

There are many people’s feet who absolutely ADORE the soft footbed option in Birkenstocks because the regular Birkenstock footbed is too firm. I personally like both. I love a nice supportive firm footbed for all day walking, so the traditional Birkenstock footbed works well for me, but the soft footbed feels nice too.

The soft footbed from Birkenstock has an extra layer of shock-absorbing foam built into the footbed. It definitely feels nice on my foot, but my feet definitely don’t require the extra cushion with this brand If you have very sensitive feet, there are Birkenstock options that have the soft footbed AND the soft suede uppers for minimal or no break-in time. Below are the styles that come in the soft footbed option.

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10. Birkenstock Sizing & Width Info

I mention the sizing/width above with each Birkenstock I tried, but I still find it confusing.

First of all, almost all of the Birkenstocks I’ve ever tried run big. I typically wear a 7 in sandals, and a 7.5 in boots, but I wear a European size 37 in almost all Birkenstocks (which Birkenstock says on their sizing chart translates into a size 6-6.5 in US sizing), so my recommendation is to size down. Unless you’re ordering the Buckley’s. For the Buckley’s I wear my typical size 38.

Birkenstocks width options are not as easy-to-understand as I would like for them to be. They have two width options that confusingly go by several names. The first option is A-B width and is called narrow or medium sizing. On Zappos, they call this “narrow”, at Nordstrom they call this width “B”, at Saks and Anthro they don’t even name the width (but the A-B is typically the default that they carry). Another way to differentiate the widths is by looking at the footbed of the sandal. C-D (regular/wide) sizing has an open (not colored in) image and A-B (narrow/medium) sizing has a solid foot image (colored in) as shown below.

I mention the sizing/width above with each Birkenstock I tried, but I still find it confusing.
image: Birkenstock.com

If you’re having trouble finding the right width Birkenstock for your foot, I suggest checking out Birkenstock’s sizing information page here.

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11. Tips For Breaking In Birkenstocks

Some Birks require break-in periods for me, some don’t. I think it depends on the style of the Birk, your foot shape, how frequently you’ve already been wearing sandals, + the sizing of the shoe.

At Nordstrom | At Saks | At Free People | At Birkenstock

A lot of people ask about breaking in Birkenstocks. Some Birks require break-in periods for me, some don’t. I think it depends on the style of the Birk, your foot shape, how frequently you’ve already been wearing sandals, and the sizing of the shoe.

The bottom of my feet never have a hard time or need break-in time with Birkenstock’s classic supportive firm contoured footbed. Shana’s feet, however, prefer more cushion, so she gravitates toward the soft footbed styles that are immediately comfortable for the bottom of her feet. They have an additional layer of cushioned foam for more shock-absorption.

Birkenstock Soft Footbed

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Bloomies | Birkenstock

The harder leather straps on many Birkenstocks (especially the wider straps) do need to be broken in sometimes. The first pair of Birkenstock Madrids I bought years and years ago gave me blisters for the first week along the top leather strap. Note…they were a size too big for me. I loved them so much, though, that I wore them through the blisters, and after several times wearing them out and about with bandaids (maybe a week?) they were fine and continued to get more and more broken in, and the leather softened with each wear.

The next summer I bought the size smaller (the correct size for my foot) in the same Madrid style, and they gave me zero blisters and were instantly comfortable. The leather continues to get softer with each wear.

My favorite Birkenstocks right now are the high shine patent leather versions of the Madrid as well as the Arizonas. Because my feet are very used to wearing both styles, I didn’t get blisters with either, but I will definitely point out that the patent leather is harder than the regular leather or suede. The patent leather does get more flexible with wear, but not necessarily softer.

Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle

Where To Buy: Nordstrom | Saks | Anthro

If you’re not used to wearing a certain Birkenstock style, you may have to break them in and get your feet used to a new style. I suggest wearing them around the house at first and then for shorter walks…don’t walk miles in them right out of the box! I also will sometimes adjust the buckle if I feel something rubbing and make small adjustments daily to find the sweet spot.

Absolutely, the more you wear your Birkenstocks, the more comfortable they get. You’ll see pretty quickly, the indentations and markings of your individual foot and toe shape on the footbed and feel the leather soften. Birkenstock’s website suggests wearing new Birkenstocks for 30-minute increments to let the leather soften, flex, and mold to your foot, before committing to wearing them out and about all day long. I don’t always need to do this, but everyone’s tolerance to pressure and various materials is totally different, and finding what YOUR feet like is very important.

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Feel free to chime in on any of your Birkenstock favorites, tricks for breaking in specific styles of Birkenstocks, and what your thoughts are on any classic or newer Birkenstock styles.

This post continues to be updated with new Birkenstock styles and finds, so you’ll see comments below from years past. If there are specific Birkenstocks you want me to take a look at in the future, shout it out…or maybe someone else in this community has tried them.

Per usual, I could chat comfort shoes with you guys all.day.long…love hearing from you all!

-Linzi

For more Birkenstock talk, check out: