When Phoebe Philo at Céline sent those fur-lined Birkenstocks down the runway a couple of years ago, it was the shot heard ’round the fashion world. Suddenly “comfortable” was no longer a dirty word, and regular old Birkenstock “Arizona’s” became the street style darlings’ shoe of choice. Those who have worn and loved their Birkenstocks all along indulged in a bemused chuckle or two.
It felt almost like a seismic shift when we visited Paris last year and saw so many baskets, brightly colored and even white athletic shoes, worn by the locals and not just tourists. Unlike the sleek Pumas, classic black Converse or understated sneakers we’d observed on prior visits, the kind of big, bold, in-your-face athletic shoes that one was always advised to eschew to avoid “looking like a tourist” were everywhere, on Parisians of both genders and all ages.
The latest iteration of what Karen calls Fugly Chic ties in with the current “athleisure” clothing trend (track-style pants, fancy sweatshirts). Thick-soled, a little clunky, and sometimes a bit orthopedic in appearance, these shoe styles (sometimes referred to as flatforms) can help balance the wider-legged and flared pants that are on-trend for 2015. (Slip-on “skater” sneakers are a popular subset of this genre.) I’ve been spotting thick- and lug-soled sneakers and sandals on women of all ages here in LA recently, and is it any wonder? The siren call of comfort is a hard one to ignore.
Wear with your boyfriend jeans, wide-leg or flare trousers, with track-style pants, with leggings or cropped pants. or even longer, full skirts. They can help balance the volume of over-sized tops and jackets too.
*a French expression often used to describe unconventional beauty, or beauty found in ugliness.
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