Birkenstock Fitting Guide
Birkenstock sandals are a firm favourite every summer thanks to their iconic summer fashion styles, crafted in Europe using premium materials. A uniquely contoured footbed shape is one of their distinguishing features, widely copied in the footwear industry, but also the cause of serious discomfort if you don’t get the right size and fitting for you.
What are the common problems?
A common challenge with buying Birkenstocks online is size conversion. Designed and manufactured in Europe, the original size (before conversion) is always EU Continental sizes and these do not translate directly to UK or US size – they are just different.
Adding to potential confusion, some of the best known Birkenstock styles are available in two width options: Narrow and Regular Fit. Our experience has taught us that the Birkenstock ‘Regular’ really means Wide fitting to most buyers and the ‘Narrow’ fit will be the one most people want.
Unfortunately the various size translations and width options are often incorrectly published online, which means buying your first pair of Birkenstock sandals online can be a daunting task. Read on, for our expert advice on how to get sizing right for you.
Begg Shoes have been an official stockist of Birkenstock Sandals for many years and can write from many years of first-hand knowledge from our nine stores.
Do Birkenstocks run true to size?
The short answer is no. For various reasons, Birkenstock sizing can be difficult to get right first time.
The main reason for this is size conversion between UK, EU & US which can be very misleading. We advise purchasing the shoes in the manufactured EU Continental size, that way you reduce the risk of ordering the incorrect size when relying on retailer size conversion, which is always just a guide and not a guarantee. If you know you take an EU 39 then that’s what you should look for – rather than switch to UK or US equivalents and take a risk.
We find that different online stores will convert their sizes differently. Our blog on EU to UK shoe size explains why this is such a common problem.
Below is our guide to Birkenstock size conversions for those who aren’t sure of their EU size.
Begg Shoes Size Conversion Chart
Begg Shoes Size Conversion Table
This our reference table used Begg Shoes stores. Scroll down to see the Birkenstock version and you’ll notice nearly a whole size difference between our conversion and that of Birkenstock.
Birkenstocks Own Size Conversion Chart
It may be very confusing when purchasing Birkenstocks as their conversion between the manufactured EU size and UK or US sizes do not match the conversion chart which we use from the Society of Shoe Fitters.
|35||2.5||4 – 4.5|
|36||3.5||5 – 5.5|
|37||4.5||6 – 6.5|
|38||5||7 – 7.5|
|39||5.5||8 – 8.5|
|40||7||9 – 9.5|
|41||7.5||10 – 10.5|
|42||8||11 – 11.5|
|43||9||12 – 12.5|
narrow fit or regular fit Birkenstocks
Birkenstock offers two width fitting variants and these are Narrow Fit and Regular Fit. While this may seem fairly straightforward, the naming of these fittings is actually a very common source of problems for online shoppers. Here is our advice based on years of experience selling the brand in our stores.
Narrow Fit: we find that for most customers opt for the Narrow option (around 80% of women) and typically we consider this to be more of a Standard Fit. This causes a lot of confusion as you might expect – the name is misleading.
Regular Fit: this width fitting is best suited to a wider foot or those who prefer a little more room on the footbed. Regular Fit is the more popular fitting for Men, but it is well worth noting that many of the iconic Birkenstock styles are unisex including Arizona.
Take care to pick the width fitting that is best for you to avoid aching feet.
Are Birkenstocks Comfortable?
The iconic footbed used in the Birkenstock range is relatively hard and unforgiving compared to other brands. While a bit firm, the standard footbed also has very distinctive features which help to support and hold your foot.
The deep heelcup will support your feet almost as if it was in a closed shoe. While the arch support offers you stability with every step. The toe grip is one of the most recognisable features of Birkenstock sandals. This supports the natural position and rolling motion of the toes to keep them loose and spread out.
This means that if you get the right size – Birkenstocks can be incredibly comfortable and supportive. In the event you pick one thats too big or too small however, you could really regret it.
How to check your footbed fits correctly
Stand up with the sandals on, straps fully open if these adjustable, then feel your feet will naturally spread under your bodyweight. Your foot should feel supported, but be able to move freely. Your heel and toes should not overlap or rub up against the firm outer ridge of the footbed.
Make sure your toes do not rub up against the edge at the front of the sandal – this can rub and cause corns or blistering over time. Don’t be afraid to go up a size and try it on, if you are concerned or consider switching to a Regular Fit alternative if you need more width.
Once you are happy with the fit of the footbed you can now go ahead and fasten the straps. The straps should hold your foot in the correct place on the footbed, stopping you sliding forward or back during regular walking. Straps should hug your foot without being too tight – remember your feet will expand on hot days for example.
Take a few steps to see if the straps hold your foot securely and adjust them once more if you feel that they are too tight or loose. You should not feel the buckles digging in at all, this might indicate you need to loosen the strap or that the shape and style may not be right for you.
Breaking In Birkenstock Sandals
The last step to getting your Birkenstocks to fit properly is to “break them in”. Most important before breaking in your brand new Birkenstocks is to ensure the footbed length is correct. No amount of wear will increase the overall length and you would be best to return them (before wearing outdoors) for an exchange or a refund before fully committing to wearing them in.
For best results, we recommend that you wear your sandals for a few hours to get used to the footbed. Start with short indoor wear then work up to longer walks and regular wear. We recommend you don’t set off on a long walk or holiday without doing some of the softening off first – take it slow! The footbed will soften and mould to your foot, though this can be a slow process. Loyal Birkenstock fans will tell you its worth it and that a fully bedded in Birkenstock is unbeatable for comfort.
The straps will stretch a little with wear, though Birko Flor styles will only stretch a little. We recommend the leather styles for a truly personalised fit and superior comfort and breathability. These are usually a little more expensive but worth the extra money for the added comfort and personalisation.
Are Birkenstocks worth it?
We get asked this question a lot as some may think that they’re pretty pricy for a “basic” sandal, but there’s so much more to them than one might think and it all comes down to the unique design of their footbed and high quality construction. If you love the style of the iconic Birkenstock, then we recommend you buy the real thing and you’ll love them for longer than a lookalike.
Browsing through the internet nowadays you’ll find a plethora of Birkenstock copies and knock-offs especially of the two strap classic, Arizona. Like any footwear fashion icon, many other brands have created their own versions but in this case, the original is very hard to beat. Lookalike styles are often made using cheaper and inferior materials and construction and while this might be good enough for occasional wear, we always advise that better quality materials and design usually lead to a shoe looking and feeling better for longer.
While Birkenstock have spent many years, dedicated to the perfection of their signature styles and orthotic-inspired footbed, the cheaper copies available are made by manufacturers who spend very little time or effort refining their products. Often, this will be evident once you start wearing a cheaper version, either due to poor fitting qualities or perhaps just the materials don’t look as good as the original Birkenstock would.
If you are looking for a more affordable comfort sandal check out our Womens Slide Sandals collection where we have a wide range of options from top brands and shoe makers.
What is Birko-flor?
Unless specified as leather most of our Birkenstock styles are made using Birko-Flor® which is a premium synthetic material. It is an easy-care, skin-friendly and tear-resistant material and although it looks and feels very similar to leather, but will not behave in the same way as leather in terms of stretch and breathability. This is a fantastic material which has proven to offer durable look and feel, in a huge range of metallic, glitter and other premium fashion materials, which are very difficult and expensive to replicate on leather. Overall, this is a great value premium material and not to be feared, if you would usually look for leather uppers.
If you prefer the classic matt leather finishes and a slightly more rugged and worn look in your sandals, we always recommend spending a little more and buying genuine leather. These also offer superior stretch and breathability, if you are going to spend a lot of time wearing your sandals.
best 5 birkenstocks for 2021
1. Arizona – £70.00
The Arizona is the most best known Birkenstock profile and is a unisex option, done in a huge range of colours and materials. For this season, we love the variety of colours now available with the “Rose Gold Croc” being our favourites as they are right on trend. This style has become an icon and offers timeless summer fashion appeal in colours such as Brown Arizona Sandals or the fantastic neutral shade Arizona Stone as well as exciting new colour introductions each year.
2. Milano – £65.00
The Birkenstock Milano has been adapted from the iconic Arizona style to include a strap around the back. This style gives you more stability and support and is made with a Birko-Flor® upper which manages to look and feel just like nubuck leather. This sandals brings together function and fashion beautifully.
3. Mayari – £70.00
The Birkenstock Mayari is another iconic shape but this time with a toe loop. This style offers a slightly more feminine and elegant option of Birkenstock sandals for your summer wardrobe. The buckles still offer you the adjustability for a personalised fit. While the thinner straps over the top can be more slimming.
4. gizeh – £60.00
Birkenstock GIZEH is the go to style for a pair of comfortable “thong” sandals. Nothing says summer more than a pair of toe post of flip flop style of sandal and these feature an adjustable strap over the top for that personalised fit that Birkenstocks offer.
5. Madrid – R70.00
The Birkenstock MADRID style is a little more fashion forward with the buck buckle feature. For easy comfort you can’t go wrong with a pair of Birkenstock Madrid Sandals. They’re right on trend with a big buckle embellishment for an eye catching WOW factor. These sliders a perfect to slip into on those warm summer days.
6. Sydney – £65.00
The Birkenstock SYDNEY style for ladies is very similar to the popular Arizona style and proves that fashion and functionality can go together. This style is set to be a big hit this season and is available in two colours.
7. Boston- £95.00
The Birkenstock BOSTON mule for men is a versatile and classic shoe that can be worn all year round. The leather upper of these mules have a sophisticated design together with their inconic footbed while the buckle allows adjustability for a better fit. The footbed is made from cork which is a natural product provide insulation and cushioning with every step.