Recently I caved to the ever-growing trend and asked for a pair of Birkenstocks for Christmas. For the uninitiated: this is a German footwear brand that primarily manufactures sandals. You may have seen one or two pairs around. They’re the perfect Uni shoe really, and suit pretty much every aesthetic there is – from the beachy, eco-warrior studying marine biology, to the funky art student who rides their fixie all over campus.
But the thing is, I had made a bit of a blunder, a fatal sizing mistake. As Birks are an orthotic ‘grandma-style’ shoe, they need to be accurately fitted. I made the error of going one size too large to be sure I was well accommodated. Which would have been fine with a regular closed shoe, except here it was not.
And this highlighted something new to me: it is important to know your fit, and to know it well. A similar realisation had come to me recently, when I realised after years of buying size 32 pants/shorts that size 30 fit me perfectly fine. And even then, I don’t have it half as bad as the sizing predicaments of women. The discrepancies in sizing there are so ridiculous they deserve a few articles of their own. But as I said, this made me realise having a more accurate idea of my personal sizing is key: especially with shoes, arguably the most important, hard-wearing item of clothing of all. I would’ve added most supportive to that list but I’m sure that accolade probably goes to good bras.
So, the big Birks slipped and slid and rubbed, until it got to the point of, okay, this definitely isn’t going to work. Unfortunately, by this stage they were too marked to return. But thanks to it being the year 2019, we have technology and I dove into the wonders of e-commerce. I put them on multiple pages on Facebook marketplace. Eventually, a young beachy mum picked them up. I sold them in Freo, and I thought the idea of selling a pair of second-hand Birkenstocks in artsy, hippy Fremantle was pretty amusing. Though having said that, I’m extremely glad they didn’t go to waste.
Anyway, now I had a partial cashback to go to a new pair. After saving a bit extra, I made sure I got a size smaller this time. And of course, the shop assistants are always a great help in determining this. I think this sort of extra service is something we forget about in the age of digital purchasing, plus it’s always possible to size in store then shop online. Basically, do your research and don’t hesitate to get help in person to find the right fit. Happy shoe searching, people!
Words by Sam Worley, Fashion Co-Editor