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Wardrobe Staple: Birkenstocks

I mentioned a few weeks ago that one of my favorite pairs of “ugly” walking shoes, a pair of Birkenstock Arizonas, finally gave out the other day. I didn’t realize at the time that Birkenstock can and will apparently fix any part of a shoe (thanks to the wonderful commenter Jennifer P), but to be honest my old pair was probably dingy enough that it wasn’t fit for public consumption anyhow.

Luckily for me however, my Arizonas gave out just at the right time – when Birkenstocks were apparently acceptable again! I took the opportunity to order a bunch of different pairs and styles and try them all out. I hope my experience can help some of you looking for a perfect pair of Birkenstocks out there!

First up? Suede Arizonas.

Birkenstock soft footbed Arizona

I was already very familiar with the Arizona style, having worn the traditional oiled pair. This time I was lured in by the “soft footbed” version, which promised a shortened break in time and even more comfortable walking. Yes! Why not?

The first pair I tried: black suede Arizonas. I liked the matching black buckles on these – a little more modern and less “granola” in my opinion. A size narrow fit my normal width foot perfectly, likely because these are unisex shoes and “narrow” in the Arizona style is closer to a regular width for women’s shoes.

Next up was the taupe/tan suede pair I ordered. When I tried these on, I was surprised – they seemed super wide! I knew that different colors maybe had small deviations with Birkenstock, but I wasn’t expecting this. I checked the box and the label said “narrow,” so I shrugged and prepared to pack them away as a return.

Before I did that however, curiosity overcame me and I decided to try and find out if I could figure out the width of the sandals by looking around the shoe. There were no labels calling out the width, however. Then I did some research and learned an easy way to tell if your Birkenstocks are “narrow,” or “regular”.

Simply look at the little footstep icon.

Birkenstock narrow versus wide

If the foot imprint graphic is filled in/solid – then your shoe is a narrow fit. If it’s empty or unfilled, then it’s a regular. And that’s how I figured out that I had been sent the wrong width! Darn you, Zappos! Continue Reading