Sandals for winter

Rochelle vanderHelm —Staff Writer 

Even during their unfortunate and brief periods of vacation from the mainstream fashion culture, the Birkenstock lingers in the minds and hearts of fanatics. That sense of home when you finally step back into a good vintage is comparable only to the laundry that only Momma can make smell that way. We are currently moving into another such relapse. Whether due to changing weather or public opinion, fashion’s favorite ugly shoe is just ugly for now, but I will fight for the Birkenstock until the kids come home again. 

I give you the unrealized potential of Birks-n-socks, the Birkenstock’s close cousin and an untapped source for winter shoes. 

Midwesterners are good at being cold. They understand the necessity of dry feet. However, they fall just sort of understanding the truth behind truly dry feet. They bind up their toes and ankles in 3 pounds worth of rubber and insulation in the hopes of maintaining a reasonable body temperature. With those two stiff burrito feet they stomp around with no hope of mobility or comfort. Despite every measure, those poor stifled feet are still soggy by the end of the day, whether from external or internal sources. 

Hear me out. Perhaps the goal is not to keep dry but to return to dryness. Take it from the beach bums; wet feet are uncool. Sandals are the solution. It sounds counterintuitive, I know, but what dries out faster than any other shoe? Sandals. What item may be worn on the feet to maintain warmth? Socks. Birks-n-socks are the best of both worlds. The socks keep one’s feet warm during the walk outside, and in the event of sidewalk drippies, the Birks allow for rapid drying once inside.

This brings us to a second issue. Midwesterners are not opposed to the overuse of central heating systems. Moving about on a college campus becomes an exercise in undressing and redressing. All outer layers must be jettisoned within minutes of entering a building to avoid high-fever temperatures. Haven’t we all shown up to class swimming in steamy layers when that button just wouldn’t come undone in your hysterical late-for-class dash? A pair of Birkenstocks might have saved you from the volcanic inside air. At least you wouldn’t have had sweaty feet if you ditched those horrible straight-jacket shoes. 

I have spent two straight winters in Iowa, and I wore Birks-n-socks every day to class. Blame it on the California in me, but there is something superior about being able to kick off your shoes under the desk and wiggle your toes. Birks-n-socks are snowshoes, rain shoes, and play shoes. Maybe it is my conceit. My roommates say, “Rochelle just wants to feel special,” but sandals are winter shoes, too. And it isn’t just because back home winter boots are a waste of money. I am triggering a Birkenstocks revival on this campus. Seriously, if you doubt my testimony, put Birks-n-socks on trial this winter. It isn’t like I’m asking you to go barefoot, but maybe that’s worth a try, too.

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