Can you wear out your Birkenstocks, or are they totally invincible? A podiatrist weighs in.


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Photo: Unsplash/Jack Antal

I don’t like feet. I am heavily grossed out whenever people post pictures of their pedicures or whatever on Instagram stories—like, I’m gonna need you to give me a warning so that I can skip your stories for the rest of eternity. This is also probably why I have such strong thoughts about flip flops (and sandals in general, TBH). But weirdly enough, I have been convinced that I definitely need a pair of Birkenstocks. Without a doubt these shoes are ugly, but are they also kind of… secretly cute? Team W+G has differing opinions about this, to say the least.

So how did this happen? I am still asking myself this question. Did I suddenly become someone who chooses practicality over aesthetics? (I can hear my entire family LOL-ing as I type this.) My motivation to live la vida Birks isn’t totally clear, but I can tell you that podiatrists love these shoes. “The bottom of your feet is a very small surface area and it, and it supports everything above it, so the more we can stabilize your foundation, the better,” says Dr. Cary Gannon, podiatric surgeon and founder of Aila Cosmetics. “It’s like the foundation of your home—you build the foundation of your home at a cinderblock because it’s got to support everything above it. So if you think of the Birkenstock like a nice supportive foundation, it actually is an incredible shoe.”

And when I asked her if you can wear Birkenstocks out to the point where you’re no longer getting this level of support, she said it would be difficult—especially because you can get them resoled. “I have never worn out a pair of Birkenstocks,” she tells me. “I’m actually wearing the white ones right now,” she says. (She confirmed this after we get off the phone by sending a photo. This photo also solidified my decision to buy a pair.)

If your Birks are getting worn down, the brand offers specialized repairs—including heel, toe tab and complete sole replacements—so that you could rock the same pair virtually forever. As a general rule, the company suggests swapping out your soles when you can no longer see the tread patterns, which can help you hold onto them pretty much forever. In case you need proof: A deep dive into some online forums about Birkenstocks confirms that many people have owned theirs for years, and the longest period of time I came across was 15 years.

So, yes—you can hold onto your Birkenstocks for as long as it will take for them to go out of style… and then somehow come back into it again.

When shopping for your Birks, make sure you get the right size. (For foot health reasons.) And don’t wear them with socks. (For general aesthetic reasons.)

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