Guide to Buying a Good Pair of Ugly Shoes

The Ugly Shoe: Geek Chic, Hipster, Normcore, or just more practical? Here are some quick tips, from an Ugly Shoe veteran*, on picking out an authentic pair.

Birkenstocks: Classic Ugly Shoe. I think they’re pretty though. Image:

So after years of being called a lesbian, a German and a granny, it seems “ugly” shoes are coming into fashion, which means I’ll have to consider whether I’ll be putting my beloved sensible shoes to the back of the closet this summer, in fear of being seen as indulging in fads, or start comfortably jumping for joy that strangers won’t give me funny looks anymore.

I know that the term is used playfully to describe a certain type of shoe (a flat, sensible shoe that’s good for your joints, you can’t fall over in and can’t fall out of), but, if you actually think the look of a shoe is totally “ugly” you shouldn’t be wearing it, right? If something isn’t pleasing to your eye, you shouldn’t wear it, because it just simply isn’t your style. No?

However, I’d like to think people genuinely do care about their health and comfort now and are willing to adapt their style in order to shop for longer. If this is your reason for wanting Ugly Shoes, I am thrilled for you: You’re about to change your life.

Whether you’re genuinely into the luxury of pain-free footwear and feel like you can get away with this bold look, or you’re just wanting a piece of this trend, here are some tips, from an experienced Ugly Shoe buyer, as to what to look out for to get an authentic nerdy look, and happy feet, this summer:

Swedish Hasbeens: Gorgeous Shoes! But the wooden sole rules them out as Ugly Shoes.

Swedish Hasbeens: Gorgeous Shoes! But the wooden sole rules them out as true Ugly Shoes. Image:

  • There’s no point in buying Ugly Shoes if they’re not comfortable: A thick sole is a must. A sensible shoe without a thick sole is pointless, looks cheap and it will make it obvious that you’re a poseur! In my opinion, the thick sole of an Ugly Shoe is the best feature. Stomp around all day and you’ll never get hip ache again.
  • Getting a thong style is another dead give away. Thongs/flip-flops are so easy for a true klutz to trip over in. Oh, and that dreadful piece between the toe takes a long time to get used to. I don’t think I’ve been able to stay in flip-flip style shoes long enough to build up enough calluses to be able to walk in them and not whimper.
  • For a super “ugly” look, go for shoes that really strap your feet in well. You don’t want to be tripping out of them or going over on your ankle. Get a nice strap all around your ankle and for extra points, get them with a buckle or even better, *cringe* elastic.


    Givenchy: The Ugly Shoe I want the most. Image:

  • If you must wear heels, and sometimes, we just have to, it’s better to go for a full wedge instead of a heel. The wedge must have a soft flexible sole, like an espadrille-type woven sole or cork, not wood. Don’t just get a pump-style: Again, get ones with an ankle strap to make sure they’re secured firmly onto your feet. You can get some dorky versions of this shoe, but in my opinion, this is the perfect cross between sensible/ugly and not-so-ugly.
  • And of course, as ever, if you’re wearing Ugly Shoes as summer shoes, and pretty much all of the Ugly Shoes are styles suited for warmer weather, always buy them in all natural materials. No one likes stinky feet and people who buy these shoes for their practical merits, want them to last for years.
  • Good traction is also sensible.
  • Remember: Shop in the stores your Grandma goes to if you want a really authentic Ugly Shoe aesthetic.

Happy shopping! I hope you can pull them off and don’t be surprised when people insult you!!

*(Fueled mainly by chiropody issues, sadly, not fashion foresight!)


One thought on “Guide to Buying a Good Pair of Ugly Shoes

  1. Thank god you wrote this article! I am in need of a good pair of ugly shoes and needed some tips before taking the leap and buying them. What a horror to be stuck with uncomfortable AND ugly shoes! 🙂 Brilliant article…got my Friday morning off to a good start! Cortneybre…

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