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When people used to mention Birkenstock to me I use to think of thick and chunky shoes for the older generation. This was partly due to my lack of knowledge surrounding the shoe as I'd only really seen the traditional design, with three straps.
My first experience of wearing the shoes was nipping to put the bins out whilst borrowing my sister's slip on shoes. I found the traditional design quite heavy and clumpy, however, my sister explained that your feet get use to wearing them after a few days.
My sister then came across the Madrid's and treated me to a pair from Costco for around £24. The one strap design seemed more feminine and less bulky than other designs which I found suited me better. I waited for a sunny day to arrive, painted my toenails to compliment the 'mirror blue' colour my sister had opted for, only to find that the box contained two left feet. This was a shame, however, it gave me another opportunity to have a browse around Costco.
When I did find chance to wear them I found them comfy after a few wears. Initially, as they are built up to fit the shape of a general foot it didn't feel it matched mine, however, they seemed to mould themselves to the correct shaping, making it easier to walk in them for hours at a time.
The shoes come in various different colours and can be snatched up quite cheap (for the wear you'll get from them) from websites such as Secret Sales - meaning you can afford a few pairs to mix it up a bit!
Birkenstock are a brand of footwear designed for the "natural form of the foot to allow freedom of movement and all-round support". It is a German brand which has been around since 1774. In my younger days, it is a brand which I would have considered far too sensible - too flat, too boring, too reminiscent of the shoes that my Mum wore when I was a child (retrospectively, given the increasing popularity of the Birkenstock brand, she must have been a bit of a trend-setter without knowing it). However, as a Mum to two energetic young children, I have been forced to ditch the pretty strappy sandals and platform wedges on a day to day basis, in favour of something a little bit more practical. I decided to buy my Birkenstock Madrid sandals after spotting them on offer in TK Maxx last summer, and they have become a regular fixture on my summer feet since then.
* The Sandal *
The Birkenstock Madrid is the classic one-strap Birkenstock design. The sandal is very simple with just the flattish foot-bed and a single leather strap with buckle fastening across the toes. The footbed itself is designed to provide comfort with a flexible cork latex core, upper and lower jute layers to reduce moisture build up and a suede leather lining to promote comfort around the foot. The edges of the footbed are slightly raised to protect your toes from being bumped and the footbed itself is designed to give the optimum anatomical support to your feet with arch support and a heel cup. The sole is a lightweight, shock-absorbing ribbed rubber-type material to provide additional grip. My sandals are silver which I love because I feel that it adds a sense of fun and style to what is otherwise an extremely 'sensible' style but there are a wide range of other colours available in both matt and patent leather.
* My Experiences *
Initally, I found these sandals a bit trickier to walk in that I expected. The arch support didn't seem to be in exactly the right place and I found myself gripping the sole of the sandals with my toes, which in turn led to aches in my calves. To be honest, I've never quite got to grips with walking comfortably in flipflops either (although I've hoping the Havaianas I've just ordered with my last Dooyoo Amazon vouchers may solve that issue!) so I didn't let that put me off. However, once I'd worn them a few times and got used to them, they became extremely comfortable. It is like the footbed has adapted itself slightly to suit my foot shape and, although the basic anatomical elements of the footbed such as the arch support and dipped heel are still there, they are less extreme and better suited to my foot shape. There are still things I can't do in these sandals - running for the train and playing tennis with the kids for example - but as a day to day sandal for commuting to work, shopping trips, doing the school run etc. they are extremely comfortable. I have also become less self-conscious about the perceived 'clumpiness' of the sandal over time - today I am wearing them with a shortish sundress, whereas in the past I'd only have worn a shorter skirt with high wedges for the elongating effect that they have on my legs. Maybe I am simply growing up?
I have also been very impressed with the durability of my Birkenstock Madrids. I bought mine last June, wore them a lot last summer and fairly often this year (more so now the sun has finally decided to put in an appearance) and they still look as good as new, despite being worn on the beach and by the pool. They dry very quickly when they get wet - a regular occurrence when I am watering the garden as I have a tendency to water my feet as well as the plants. The only visual signs of wear and tear are shiny patches on the footbed where my toes and heels go, but I would expect that from sandals worn with bare feet. They do not make my feet feel hot and sweaty, but I think there is always going to be an element of wear and tear on sandals worn mostly in hot weather.
* Price and Purchasing *
The RRP for a pair of Birkenstock Madrid sandals is around £35. I got mine for £20 in TK Maxx and it is likely that you will be able to find them for that kind of price by shopping around, especially if you aren't fussy about having this season's styles.
* Final Thoughts *
For all my initial doubts about how often I would wear these sandals, I now love them. They are ideal footwear for hot sunny days and I love the convenience of being able to slip them on and off, without having to fiddle around with straps and buckles. They are comfortable, practical, easy to walk in and easy to wear all day without causing sore feet. In fact, I'm thinking about getting them in another colour (or possibly a different style), something I'd never have done a couple of years ago. And yes, if I'm going out 'properly' then the pretty strappy sandals / high wedges still put in a appearance, but for everyday use I am a Birkenstock convert.
Birkenstock Madrid flip flop sandals with a simple single adjustable buckled strap / The Cork and Latex foot bed is contoured to the shape of a healthy foot working with the mechanics of the foot to improve circulation / support and weight distribution / So you can go out knowing your fashionable yet healthy at the same time / Flip Flops / Man Made / Upper material: Synthetic / Lining Material: Leather / Casual.