The Birk Look Is Back: 5 Thick-Soled Sandals

Luxe leathers and edgy extras update laid-back cool

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By upgrading the leathers and adding details like rich hardware and studded embellishment, designers are putting the haute in hippie. Click through for our favorite thick-soled sandals.

Steve Madden pony-hair platform sandals, $90;

Photograph by Liz Von Hoene

The Original: Birkenstocks

Birkenstocks were first designed in Germany in 1774 by Johann Birkenstock, a man on a mission to make a super-supportive, roomy shoe. The company's eureka moment came in 1902 when Johann's grandson developed the now famous contoured footbed, which has been helping feet do the happy dance ever since.

Courtesy of Birkenstock

Tips From the Runway: Keep It Simple

Leggings with a structural knit tunic provide a modern backdrop for earthy sandals.

Edun/Courtesy of Firstview

Tips From the Runway: Add Femininity

To go girly, pair a sweet version (like the suede, bow-accented sandals above) with white and pastel separates. Note: When doing a cropped jean, make sure it's a skinny silhouette. 

Isabel Marant/Courtesy of Firstview

Tips From the Runway: Try the Unexpected

A soft, fluid, body-conscious dress works when you choose a sandal with a sexy ankle strap in a coordinating neutral color. Gold jewlery fancies up the look; to complete it, add a soft clutch or top-handled tote in a similar dusty shade.

Courtesy of Givenchy

Mix It Up

Combine textures (in the shoes and clothes) for a look that's luxe.

Rebecca Minkoff leather sandals, $250;

Courtesy of Rebecca Minkoff

Control Volume

When you're wearing pants or long skirts, remember that wider silhouettes look sloppy, bottom heavy. Stick with skinny shapes.

Coach metallic-leather sandals, $138;

Courtesy of Coach

Shorten Shorts

Unless you have the legs of Gisele Bündchen (and we're happy for you if you do), shorts that midthigh or longer should be avoided.

Clarks patent leather sandals, $85;

Photograph by Avery Powell

Don't Hide

Resist the temptation to let it all go with big, schlumpy clothes. This sandal needs polish on top to keep it from looking frumpy.

Zara printed-leather sandals, $100;

Courtesy by Zara

Toe Re Me: Pret-A-Pedi

Take these sandals from grunge to glam with on-trend toes, polished to perfection.

Mary Kay nail lacquer in Carefree Coral, $10; OPI nail lacquer in Desperately Seeking Sequins, $9; Ulta. Sally Hansen nail polish in greige, $7;

Photograph by Bryan McCay

Pink Tartan jacquard skirt, $295; Stuart Weitzman python sandals, $498; 212-750-2555

Related: Chic Slip-On Sneakers We Love


Next: Workout Wear that Looks Great Anywhere

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Photograph by Liz Von Hoene

First published in the May 2014 issue

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