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All Hail the Return of Clogs, the Most Comfortable ‘It’ Shoe

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No. 6 clogs Photo: No. 6

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Clogs have been going in and out of style since the 1970s, when the clunky shoes became a must-have for both men and women. In recent years, they’ve made a comeback thanks to major designers like Chanel, Gucci, and Mui Mui rebranding the original bohemian-style shoes as a "fashion clog."

Naturally this update has come with hike in cost. A pair of kangaroo-fur trimmed Gucci clogs will run you $865, and a studded clog sandal by Saint Laurent goes for $795 — a far cry from the boiled wool Payless clogs my mother bought for me in the ‘90s.

Gucci fur-trimmed clogs
Gucci clogs

Free People has an entire section on its website devoted to fashionable clogs — 26 different styles, including this suede embroidered pair by Jeffrey Campbell. You’ve probably admired those ‘70s throwback high heel clogs from brands like Swedish Hasbeens and No. 6 Store, too.

And yet none of these stylish options can compare to the shabby-chic, uncomplicated clogs of my youth. Blame it on nostalgia or my painfully high arches, but nerdy, Dansko "professional" style clogs — the ones worn by doctors and line cooks — will always be my go-to.

It might be because my most vivid childhood memories involve my mom wearing clogs; she always had on either her heavy black Dansko ones or a pair of bright red leather slip-ons with a wooden sole. Or it may be because of how glamorous I felt wearing my own Payless pair, which were the first heeled shoes I ever owned. I was so proud that I could walk in them without teetering (something I still appreciate about clogs today).

I put my clogs away when I hit my teenage years and realized that, objectively, the shoes weren’t that cute. I stopped wearing them and shamed my mother into doing the same.

But with the return of countless looks embracing ugly under the "normcore" umbrella, basic clogs have found a new niche. While they’re not nearly as ubiquitous as they were twenty years ago (white sneakers have taken over that mantle), I’ve noticed that clogs go as well with a pair of mom jeans and an Adidas T-shirt as they do with a mini dress and a choker — all trends that have also made a triumphant if unlikely return.

Even Dansko is trying to ride the fashion wave with a newer line of "on-trend" style clogs, like this nubuck leather pair that’s much sleeker than its clunky predecessors.

Dansko “professional” clog
Dansko "professional" clog

But as long as clogs are considered fashionable, I want to wear the most comfortable ones I can find. I recently recovered my mom’s old red leather clogs while I was digging around in our attic. Aside from a small tear in the leather and fifteen years of accumulated dust, they were in perfect condition.

I promptly pulled them out of storage, excitedly showed my mom what I had found (she reacted with a dubious, "You like those?"), and immediately put them on my feet.

They’re not the most attractive clogs out there, especially with all the updated styles available today. But they’re as comfy as ever — and if the Birkenstock resurgence of 2013, the Teva comeback of 2014, and the white sneaker craze that carried us through 2015 have taught us anything, it’s that newer and fancier footwear isn’t necessarily better. When styled right (the red pair looks great with my white overalls), basic clogs exude their own kind of cool.

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