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Birks and socks

Posted by AngelaC on 11/02/03 at 21:25 (136229)

I know its considered fashion-awful, but I have a question about Birks and socks. Has anyone else found that birks work best without socks??? I notice that I use my toes in my birks much better without socks, and that with socks, I can't seem to 'grip' as well, and start drifting toward pronating outward, which makes my pf much worse. More and more, I'm suspecting that my pf has as much to do with the front of my foot as anything else (but this could just be Theory 1001). This is not a casual question, because we have plenty of snow here in ND now, and I'm trying to figure out what's next in terms of wearing shoes to work. I'm hoping to get another pair of Bostons, but not suede, so they don't get wrecked by wetness. I think I'm in for a cold winter. . . . Thanks, Angela

Re: Birks and socks

wendyn on 11/02/03 at 22:02 (136230)

Angela, fashion sense or no, many of us wear our Birks with socks in the winter. You may want to try a different type of sock; thick sweat socks (although they look worse) seem to work better than a slippery dress sock.

I manage through most of the winter in my Birks. Watch out for the ice, Birks are NOT made for gripping and you will slip very easily. I don't mind the cold so much, but I don't much like snow in my sandals.

Re: Birks and socks

Carole C in NOLA on 11/02/03 at 22:07 (136233)

For me, they seem to work best with socks. The fit is firmer, so my feet are less likely to drift too far. My feet are about half way between an 39 and a 40, so socks really help with my 40 Arizonas. Also, with socks my Birkenstocks feel softer to my feet.

My toes don't seem to really 'grip' with either size.

I'm in New Orleans, and it really isn't that cold here in the winter. Living in ND as you do, I'd think you HAVE to wear socks, at least outdoors!!! It sounds awfully cold up there. If they don't work for you, then what if you wear thin socks, or tights? Hope you can stay warm. Have you thought of the Birkenstock Oklahomas that have the uppers lined with lambs wool? They sound very toasty and nice.

Carole C

Re: Birks and socks

Pauline on 11/03/03 at 14:21 (136275)

You've been a Birk wearer for a long time, can you please tell me what is a soft Birk. I would love to wear them, but that bump (arch) in the center is too high and hard for my feet. I've purchase many a pair only to take them back.

Now I'm hearing about soft Birks? Does soft really mean a 'soft cushion like arch in the center of that shoe and which style/s (name) is consider

Re: Birks and socks

Carole C in NOLA on 11/03/03 at 14:41 (136277)

Pauline, only a very few models (such as the Arizona) can be bought with the soft footbed. It's just what it sounds like, and has a softer feel. I think the softness is in the footbed covering; there's probably cork beneath a padded covering (?).

It might work for you. I know that for me, they did not provide as much support and didn't feel as good (probably because despite hating hard surfaces, I need the arch bump). To me they felt 'mushy'.

If you have a Birkenstock store near you, I'd suggest going there and trying them. The owner of the Baton Rouge store put a regular Arizona on one foot, and the soft footbed Arizona on the other one. That made it a lot easier to compare them.

Carole C

Re: Birks and socks

Ron B on 11/03/03 at 21:07 (136300)

I just bought soft Birks two weeks ago the soft cushion is in the HEEL its feels good for PF

Re: Birks and socks

marie on 11/04/03 at 06:23 (136316)

I wear birks any way I can....thick socks, thin socks, no socks and sometimes I wear a thin pair of men's support socks under a thin pair of knee high socks. It looks a little dressier and provides some support to my calves which still spasm on me occasionally. I have a pair of old birks...not bostons ...can't remember the name but they are like loafers. I wear them everywhere even hiking in the woods. I am hoping to set aside some money for a pair of hiking boots...300.00 is alot with a kid in college. But I love to hike in the woods in the winter. Especially after a new snowfall. I want to get out to the Buffalo Preserve, near here and do some photography of them in the snow...I think the steam from their breath would make them a cool subject.


Re: for Pauline: soft footbeds

Suzanne D. on 11/04/03 at 10:44 (136347)

Pauline, I wear Arizonas with the soft footbed and have a pair of Floridas and also Bostons with this same type footbed. (I think there are not many more types of Birks which have the soft footbed available here, although I will add that on the German web site there are quite a few more.)

Everyone is so different: to me they don't feel at all too soft or mushy. For me, the regular Birks feel incredibly hard, and I have tried to wear a pair on several occasions, and finally gave up. Perhaps you can try on a pair with the soft footbeds yourself sometime and see how they feel to you.

It is my understanding that the cork footbed is the same. There is just a layer of padding added on top of the regular footbed. This is what I found on the Birkenstock Express site in explanation of the soft footbed Arizonas:

'Materials: Cork, Latex, and Foam
Accommodation: Molds to the shape of your foot. Toe grip absent.
Arch Support: Subtle arch support.
Heel Cup: Shallow heel cup. Includes 3/16 inch molded foam pad underneath for cushioning.
Widths: Regular and Narrow.
Break-in: Shorter break-in period than a Classic.'

That site can be found at this address:


I will add (and hope not to be confusing with this) that I bought a pair of Annapolis (Mary Jane style) Birks two years ago in a desperate attempt to find something dressy to wear to my neice's wedding. They have a flatter footbed than the Arizonas, and the shoe was too deep for my foot. What I did, after trying different inserts on top or under the removeable footbed which came in the shoe, was to correspond with Birkenstock Express's repair department. They added the soft footbed padding on top of my footbeds which I mailed to them, along with adding some arch support. They told me they could make them feel like my soft footbed Arizonas, and they did. I am now very pleased with the Annapolis shoes and last year ordered another color from Germany, knowing I could use my customized footbeds in them as well.

I hope this helps some!
Suzanne :)

Re: Birks and socks

Suzanne D. on 11/04/03 at 10:49 (136349)

Angela, I often wear Birks with socks in the fall and winter, and - like Carole said - I find that the socks help them fit and feel even better.

I know socks and sandals can be considered 'dorky', but I try to just make the best of it at school with my first graders. I buy really cute socks, and they like seeing them with the sandals! :)

I read from John H. about Thorlo socks (which can be bought in many shoe stores) and bought a pair of those. When my feet hurt the worst, I would wear those with Birks. They have a band around the arch area which makes them have a snug fit that provides some support.

Good luck!
Suzanne :)

Re: for Pauline: soft footbeds

Carole C in NOLA on 11/04/03 at 12:07 (136355)

You are so right, Suzanne! Each of us has such individual feet and what might not work for one, can be great for another person. :)

That is interesting to hear what materials are used in the soft footbed, since I had no idea. Thanks!

Carole C

Re: Birks and socks

Carole C in NOLA on 11/04/03 at 12:17 (136357)

Here's a link to the Oklahomas with the uppers lined with lambs wool (called Oklahoma shearlings):


They really appeal to me, due to the softness and warmth of lambs wool. Maybe I'll buy a pair some time, even though I live in New Orleans. Another thing I want to try some day, is those Thorlo socks that Suzanne mentioned. Like the Oklahoma Shearlings, Thorlo socks are not cheap. But gee, I do need new socks! (grin)

If you are concerned about your socks getting wet, maybe you can get some boots or something? I don't live in the North and it doesn't really snow here normally, so I really don't have a clue when it comes to snow boots. It rains here, but that hasn't really presented any insurmountable problems so far. Wearing wet socks is not an option, in my opinion.

Carole C

Re: Birks and socks

AngelaC on 11/04/03 at 16:04 (136369)

Thanks, everyone! Oh, wait till you hear what you've inspired, much to the consternation of my teenagers. (But hey, if mamma's feet ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!) Carole, you are so right; we all do seem to have individual, and idiosyncratic struggles and solutions with our feet. My left foot is a problem because the two little toes curl under because of a tendon removal. I'm very pleased to have discovered the role this is playing in my pf, and that the toe bar of the birks seems to balance things out and help immensely. When I tried socks on with my birks, I just wasn't getting the same relief at all. But I also have some thorlos, and remember how good that stitching in the walking socks can feel in terms of more support for pf. So, I decided to take a pair of socks (but not my thorlos!!!!), and cut a hole in them for the toes. It works!!! I trudged off in the snow today without icing my feet at the same time! (I really don't want to deal with frostbite along w/everything else.) And my feet are happier because they just don't seem to tolerate well uppers rubbing against them without some kind of sock cushioning. It looks pretty bad in Arizonas, but no one's going to see it in my Bostons. The Oklahomas look good. . . I think they're going to have to go on my wish list. I've also ordered a pair of birk inserts to see if I can put them in my boots and get around better that way. Angela

Re: for Pauline: soft footbeds

Suzanne D. on 11/04/03 at 16:57 (136379)

When I bought my first pair of Arizonas at a store in Lousiville, the salesperson had heard of PF but didn't know a great deal about it. She mentioned that they had the soft footbed style but that it might not be as helpful for my problem. I went with my 'gut feeling' after trying both and bought the soft footbed. I later tried a regular pair and never could get used to them.

I think sometimes my feet are the strangest 'on this planet' (to borrow an expression from my high school daughter)! :) Ice doesn't have the same effect it does on most everyone else (even longer, extended periods of using it), and regular Birks don't work. But, as I know you have said, sometimes we just have to 'listen to our feet', don't we?!

For anyone wanting to see what styles can be bought from the German site in the soft footbed, these are the styles they list:

Arizona soft footbed
Boston soft footbed
Florida soft footbed
Milano soft footbed
Monterey soft footbed
Pisa soft footbed
Tokio soft footbed

The German site can be found here:


Suzanne :)

Re: for Pauline: soft footbeds

Pauline on 11/06/03 at 10:50 (136544)

Thanks for the information Susanne. How long did it take you to get used to the soft bed ones? I thought trying them with socks might help.

I heard if you wet Birks you can break them in faster. I've never tried it because I knew once wet you could never return them.

I'd like to try a pair of the so called soft bed Birks to see if I notice any difference from the reqular ones.

Folks that wear them sure love them. I'd like to be one of them.

Re: for Pauline: soft footbeds

Carole C in NOLA on 11/06/03 at 11:42 (136548)

I wouldn't wet my Birks just to break them in faster. It only takes a week or so to break them in properly.

Another thing to think about, is that if most people thought they were going to break in their Birkenstocks faster, they might be tempted to overdo. That is not what you want to do during the break-in process.

Instead of breaking them in faster, it could help to break them in more slowly. If you have trouble with Birkenstocks, try just sitting with them on (briefly) until your feet begin to 'like' them. Then once everything is copacetic, follow up with the usual break in (1-2 hours the first day, increasing no more than 1/2 to 1 hour each day until broken in)

Carole C

Re: for Pauline: soft footbeds

Suzanne D. on 11/07/03 at 17:08 (136741)

About a week, as I remember, Pauline. I have never wet mine. I do think your idea of wearing socks with them might make it easier.

Good luck!
Suzanne :)

Re: Birks and socks

Sher A on 11/08/03 at 17:29 (136844)

Actually, it really isn't considered fashion awful to wear socks with birks of any kinds, including sandals. Here in the Washington DC metro area, it's even quite fashionable!! We all do it. Even in contrasting colors! I was checking out our local Birk store today and they are quite knowledgeable there. In fact while I was there *I* sold a pair of shoes :) after I told another girl about the insoles.

I was looking at the shoes as opposed to the sandals, called 'footprints' and those all come with perfectly interchangeable insoles. When you buy them they will put in the softer or harder insoles right there. I bought a pair of the Ashbys today in narrow with the softer insoles. In addition, I bought a pair of leather insoles separately that also have the standard Birk molding, for $23.99. These I placed on top of the insoles in the shoes and they're wonderful. I have thin feet tallwise, but with these extra insoles the shoes fit perfectly.
It's really nice to have this option for your default soles!

Re: Birks and socks

nancy s. on 11/08/03 at 18:10 (136845)

rah rah, another enlightened birks&socks wearer! there are only a few, but as word spreads i'm sure we'll be seeing this combo on the cover of Glamour. which i haven't looked at since 1962, when too young to be glamorous, but never mind.


Re: Birks and socks

Andrue on 11/11/03 at 04:52 (137021)


I've never understood the 'grip with the toes' bit but I did find that the extra material of the sock caused some discomfort when wearing the birks.

Re: Birk shoes

Andy on 12/22/03 at 14:35 (140586)

If you don't have really high arches, you might be able to wear their 'Footprints' line of shoes. These have modest arch support, and a high arch replacement footbed can be ordered. Your dealer can even exchange the standard footbed for the high arch footbed if it is not worn much.
Probably worth a try.