Love’ Em or Hate’ Em—A Complete Guide to the Ugly Shoe
Ugly shoes: We like ’em clunky, clompy, and clacky. Maybe so big that they can even moonlight as a weapon. Just when we think the tastes bulbous clogs or crunchy kicks are coming to an end, and that we will once again revert back to dainty, pretty strappy heels, they rear their charmingly heinous soles once again.
They come in all different shapes and sizes. A Birkenstock in sawdust hues, a Dansko that looks like a legume, and a Balenciaga version of a Vibram FiveFingers that comes with a heel. It doesn’t stop there either: There are Crocs, earthy shoes for the eco-lovers, and of course, Ugg (a name that says it all!) Want an ugly shoe? We’re sure there is one for your beautiful personality.
Here, see our ultimate guide to ugly shoes at every price point.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and visit the original ugly shoes. Back in 2016, granola-chic Birkenstocks were quickly adopted by the Olsen twins and fashion gals. Later, Rick Owens came out with his hirsute-goth take, Valentino churned out a logo-fied pair, and Jil Sander reshaped them into a suede slip-on. The sandals are still all the rage, whether worn with bare toes or paired with socks.
Of course, there is the iconic Croc. Shaped like a thick duckbill, this perforated rubber clog has long been a closet staple for nurses and cooks. More recently, it’s been adopted by fashion labels. We’ve seen Balenciaga put out Crocs with fat stacked platforms and spindly heels; Christopher Kane has stuck some colorful rocks on his own; while Takashi Murakami created a version in intergalactic hues. Call it a cornucopia of Crocs.
Behold, ye olde Ugg boot. The shoes are noughties to the core, beloved by Paris Hilton and her cohorts. Slipping into that cushy lambskin feels like your toes are being coddled by rice pudding. Fashion is obsessed with the boot, as well. In 2018, Y/Project put out a Jabba the Hut incarnation that slid up to the groin, an extreme take that even caught Rihanna’s eye.
It’s still raining ugly shoes. Balenciaga has taken Vibram FiveFingers and transformed them into heels. The French house has also created sock sneakers with rigid, chunky soles reminiscent of a Mars exploration. Don’t want to shell out for the haute phalangeal footwear? Those grippy Vibram FiveFingers come without the Balenciaga heel and pricetag.
My colleague Emily Farra lovingly refers to tried-and-true Danskos as “kidney bean” shaped. They are durable, strong, and will serve your foot well with everyone clomp.