Tips for Buying and Wearing Birkenstocks

I have long confessed my hate of Birkenstocks, until I started seeing them styled in this decade, and was seduced. I never thought I’d EVER, EVER cave and buy some. But I did.

Birkenstock Gizeh sandals
First time wearing my first pair of Birkenstocks – Birkenstock Gizeh  in Tobacco Oiled Leather

In How I Ended Up Ordering Birkenstocks, I explained exactly how this freak of sartorial nature came to be. I also mentioned that I still probably wouldn’t go for the Birkenstock classic Arizona style, and then I did. And I also picked up a pair of black Arizonas for my hubby. Yup. Twinsies…

Birkenstock Arizona sandals
His-n-hers Birkenstock Arizonas with Soft Footbed in Black Amalfi Leather

I’m not ashamed to admit it: As reluctant as I was the first time around, I bought the re-emergence of Birkenstocks, hook, line, and sinker. And since then, I’ve learned a little about Birk sizing and styles, so I thought I’d share these tips for the three of you in the free world who didn’t cave to the trend. Yet.

Tips for Buying and Wearing Birkenstocks

1. Birkenstocks fit true-to-size.
Simply consult the sizing charts. I wear a U.S. women’s 9.5, so I ordered my Gizehs and Arizonas in a 40. They’re an absolute perfect fit.

Birkenstock length sizing chart
Chart via

Again, for the width, sizing is true. If you take a narrow in most of your other shoes, order a Narrow. If not, you’re a Regular, like most:

Birkenstock width sizing chart
Chart via

2. Birkenstocks DO take some time to break in.
I started off with the Gizeh style, which is a thong-style sandal with the normal Birkenstock cork footbed. I did a lot of research before actually ordering, and I’m glad I did. From reading reviews, I knew they probably wouldn’t be comfortable out-of-the-box, and they weren’t.

It takes a several wearings for your foot to adjust to the thong and for the cork footbed to mold to your foot. But that’s the appeal of Birkenstocks…they DO eventually mold to your foot, and then it’s like they are part of your foot!

If you plan on taking your new Birks with you on vacation, be sure you wear them daily at home for several weeks to break them in.

3. If your Birkenstocks KILL you the first time you try to walk in them, tighten the strap.
The first time I tried to walk in my Gizehs, I was thinking, Oh no. These have to go back! Then I tightened the strap that goes across the top of my foot a little, and it was a little better. Walked around some more, still not right. I finally tightened the strap as tight as it would go, and that worked.

Depending on the height of your arch and the way you walk, you may have to tighten only a notch, or to max capacity. I’ve read that the thong of the Gizehs are uncomfortable for some, and the ridge under the toes can be uncomfortable in both the Gizehs and Arizonas  (with the normal cork footbed). Don’t worry! THEY WILL FEEL GREAT ONE DAY! But you have to commit to the break-in period. It’s worth it, I promise.

4. If you plan to wear Birks while touring on your vacay or doing a lot of walking, order the Arizona Soft Footbed style.
After buying my Gizehs, I came to the conclusion that while the cork footbed is comfortable for errand-running, etc., it is too hard for doing a LOT of walking, and the thong between the toes can cause callouses. As such, if you need ultimate comfort, buy the Arizona Soft Footbed. I tend to wear my Gizehs at home (I never go barefoot), and my Arizonas for shopping and the occasional IKEA excursion.

The Soft Footbed style has a comfy layer of padding over the cork, so you get all that great arch support plus some padding. And there is nothing between your toes to potentially irritate you. Unfotunately, the Soft Footbed styles don’t come in quite the same array of colors, and they are more expensive, but your tootsies will thank you later.

5. Birkenstocks come in leather, suede, nubuck, Birko-Flor™, and Birkibuc.
Obviously, the leather, suede and nubuck are all animal hide-based materials; Birko-Flor and Birkibuc are synthetic materials.

The Birko-Flor is mostly smooth and shiny; all the fun, more fashion-y (white and black patent, etc.) Birks are Birko-Flor. Birkibuc is made to look like nubuck, so if you’re looking for a vegan alternative with a leather look (girls and guys), that’s the way to go. I’ve read that the Birko-Flor and Birkibuc materials are almost as comfy as the leather, but since they don’t stretch, the break-in period could be a wee bit longer.

Are you  wearer of Birks? What was your from-box-to-life experience?

My Birkenstock picks:


  1. I’m lucky to have an original birkie store near me! I bought a pair of black gizehs which i love! I have a pic up on my insta! @doublenickelsst

  2. I got a pair of the silver gizehs at an estate sale for $20, never worn! The first time I wore them, I could hardly stand it. Since it’s been cold up north still I’m going to start wearing them now to get them to optimal comfort for warmer weather. Glad to hear I’m not alone in my pain during the break-in stage. I also wear Dansko clogs and they were tough to break in as well, but now my foot is so used to them, they’re basically all I can wear!

    1. Just bought a pair of black leather Gizeh and i have to admit, it´s confusing at first ´cause they don´t feel so great to walk around for the moment! I hope the several wearing will pay off before the summer!

  3. Thanks for this! Just got some Arizona soft bed in chocolate suede with cute paint splashes (I almost wrote pain splashes. lol totally Freudian.).

    Anyway first day was Heaven. Totally on cloud nine in them. Next day I couldn’t bear them for even a second. I have them on today but I definitely have backup shoes in the office. I thought I made a really bad decision and wasted my money but now I know I just have to spend some time in them. Thanks!

    1. Hi there, thanks for your comment! Yes, they do take time to break in. I am willing to bet with this suede/soft footbed combo, once you break them in, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them! It takes time for the sole to conform and soften. Just wear them at home or for really short errands. In time they will soften. Trust me!

  4. I got the gizeh in black licorice, so uppers are made out of the man-made felt instead of the oiled leather…do you think that gizeh’s made out of leather may be more comfy than those felt ones?

    1. Hi Heidi, thanks for your comment. I can’t say for sure that the leather Gizehs would be more comfortable than the man-made leather ones, but my guess is they probably are after a time. Leather does stretch and soften, unlike synthetic materials. All my Birks (3 pairs) are leather. If you haven’t worn them out, maybe you can exchange for a leather pair? If not, stick with them. It does take some time for the sole to break in and conform to your foot. Wear them at home and break them in before taking them out for a lot of walking. Or…go for the Arizonas. They quickly have become my faves!

  5. I have to admit…the fit was so weard at first, i even had my shoe size double checked at the store and they also told me to wait at least 2 weeks for comfort.
    Yes, actuality, got to were them outside for the first time this weekend and they feel great…patience pays off after all!
    I’m so very happy!

    1. Karen, the Gizeh comes in regular/medium width too.

      I used to think the Arizona style was HIDEOUS, until I put them on and discovered that they are actually more flattering and comfortable on the foot than the Gizeh. Although I started with the Gizeh, I have come to love my two pairs (black and copper) of soft footbed Arizonas so much that I actually sold my Gizehs just last week.

  6. I am a big girl and trust me the Arizona is not flattering on me, they just make me look sloppy. I wear only dresses and skirts so no not going to happen lol. I am taking my son with me tonight to help me find a pair and I am not leaving the store until I do! Wish me luck!

  7. Hi there! Fantastic advices for fresh birks lovers. I got my first Birkenstocks actually Birkis by Birkenstock last spring. I didn’t know they have to break in to feel comfortable and thought this buy was biggest mistake in my life haha. After read lots reviews I knew it’s taking time to truly enjoy them. I got two new pairs this year Pianosa and Larisa they feel brilliant straight from box! I’m Birkenstock addict

    1. Where did you find the Larisa’s? I’ve been searching online and can’t find them in my size (38). I don’t think they make them anymore.

  8. Well I am the proud new owner of Gizeh’s lol. I tried the Arizona and you are right they are more comfy and roomy but they made my feet look even fatter than they are. The Gizeh’s don’t feel too bad out of the box but time will tell if I made the right decision.

    Thanks for your advice V.

    1. In a store that sells lots of Birks, the clerk was wearing Arizonas in narrow and her feet were wider than usual. They look more feminine. If you have a long, high baby toe, regular width is better, but if your baby toe sits lower on your foot, the narrows are good.

  9. Hi I’m considering my first pair of birks and was wondering which style would be best for a newbie? I’m leaning more towards the arizonas but I’ve always worn thonged sandals so I’m totally torn!!!

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi Nicola! Having bought both styles, I can tell you I ended up preferring the Arizona over the Gizeh. I found the Gizehs were giving me callouses between the toes (ew!) and the Arizona soft footbed style (I have two pairs) are always comfortable, with no callousing. I actually ended up selling the Gizehs just a couple weeks ago because they were getting no love anymore. So I definitely recommend the Arizona style, soft footbed, if they are in your budget. Let me know what you end up with!

  10. Great post ! Except I never wear a narrow shoe and always thought my foot was a bit wide, but the narrow fit much better for me than regular, I assume because these run VERY wide.

    1. Sabrina, this is an interesting observation…I have thought the same thing. My Amalfi leather Arizonas have stretched a bit after breaking them in, and now even with the buckles on the tightest hole, they’re a tad loose. I’m thinking that if I bought another leather pair in the future, I’d probably go with a narrow too. Not sure the same thing would happen with the synthetic versions, though.

      Thanks for your comment!

  11. This is a wonderful post, thank you! I just purchased a pair of Arizonas yesterday and am working at breaking them in. My only concern so far is that my pinky toes touch the edges of the shoes… I have fairly wide feet so it may be like that with any style or size; I’m just hoping it doesn’t end up being too much of a nuisance.

  12. If you ever find yourself in Israel and want to buy Birkenstock from a well known and trustworthy website which way cheaper than an ordinary shop, just visit, lovely friendly service, they work directly with German suppliers and would send it over to you at no further cost.

  13. I just got my first Birkenstock oiled leather sandals and the straps are leaving my feet black that normal?? no sure I want to scrub my feet to death every time I wear them

    1. Oh no! That’s so weird. My Amalfi leather and oiled leather ones never transferred color. If I were you, I’d probably contact Birkenstock directly: (800) 867-2475 | Part of the company’s philosophy is to create quality products, and leather that bleeds dye on your feet is not what I would call good quality!

      Contact them and see what they say! And let me know what the outcome is. I’m curious!

    2. I just bought a pair of black leather upper Mayari style and they turned my feet black the first day I wore them. Did you contact Birkenstock? What did they say? Or has the problem gone away with wear?

    3. I just bought a pair of black leather upper Mayari style and they turned my feet black the first day I wore them. Did you contact Birkenstock? What did they say? Or has the problem gone away with wear?

  14. I have just bought a pair of leather arizona’s and I think I may have been a bit too eager and worn them too long for their first go, I now have blisters from them rubbing. Is this just part of the breaking in process? Or should I get another size? Help!

    1. Hmm. I would say they probably need a little longer to break in. But if your toes or heel are being rubbed uncomfortably, you may need the next size up. However, I would give them several more short wearings before making that decision. The cork really does soften and begin to mold a little more, but it takes time.

      If you do choose a second pair of Arizonas, try the soft footbed version with a leather upper. They really are worth the extra money because they are a little squishier in the sole, and the leather softens and stretches a little. I had no break-in time with my Arizonas like I needed with the Gizeh style.

      Let me know how you fare!

      1. Update: I decided to stick with them. But I loosened the strap closest to my toes by one notch with has stopped te rubbing on the top of my toes. They are getting more comfortable by the day. I think I wore them for too long too soon. Have been wearing them around the house and wore them to a barbecue yesterday, not more rubbing!!

        Thanks for your advice!
        P.s tan arizonas with coral toenails looks amazing! Xx

  15. I just brought the Gizeh style and love the way they look on my feet. I even brought two pair, but i already feel blisters coming in on the sides of my foot from rubbing against the footbed. I know the sole will mold to your feet, but with the material change as well and not be so course?

    1. Hi there…not sure about the material. If you bought non-leather, it may not soften up. I only have leather Birks, so I really am not sure. But I’m betting after some more wear, everything will soften up a little.

      1. Thanks for the reply. After lots of research I realized the rubbing on the sides of my feet was bc I had the wrong width. The guy at the store didnt tell me they were narrow. I didnt know at the time I should had asked about the width, I thought it was always standard. Needless to say I took both pair back and trying the regular width. Thanks for the feedback. This blog post was great.

  16. I just got white patent leather Arizonas in a 39 narrow and I’m normally a 8.5-9 depending on the shoe, and my second two toes are longer than my big toe and I love the shoe but my third toe is sometimes just rubbing the edge of the shoe, but my feet are so narrow that I’m on the last hole in the birks, so I don’t know if a 40 would make my feet slip out? Do you think I exchange for a 40 or that the birks have some stretch room as they break in?

    1. Allie, thanks for your comment. I would not size up to the 40…I’m a 9.5 and my Birks are 40s, and they would likely be too big if you did that. It does takes a little time to break them in, and often, after wearing them several times over a few weeks, the rubbing subsides as the soles begin to mold to your feet. With some people, it has helped to loosen the buckles a touch.

      I’d say wear them in the house with socks (so you don’t discolor the interior) on for a day or two and see if they begin to feel a little better. My guess is they will loosen up and eventually feel just fine. Good luck!

  17. Back in the early 90’s when I was in high school, the seniors got “Birk-Fridays”– while the freshmen through juniors still had to wear regular uniform shoes. I ended up buying my very first pair of Arizona Birks in taupe suede that senior year. Amazingly enough, I wore those things all over campus when I got to nursing school. Then, when clinicals started, my mother gifted me with a white pair of Birk clogs (I believe it was the Paris but I can’t be too sure). Now, many, many years later, I finally caved in and bought a pair of habana oiled Gizeh (as I walk my son’s newly acquired service dog a good 5 miles a day). Like you, I was a bit skeptical at first about the whole toe thing regarding the Gizeh, but now that I have broken these babies in, it is such a dream to walk in them! I have a pair of Arizonas in “antique,” coming in and now I’m on the hunt for the ever elusive Monterey. Have you tried the Monterey? Is it really all that? I’ve read the reviews on the Nordies website, but I keep on reading about “they ran too big– I had to size down.” Do you think that these woman have possibly never had a proper Birk fitting and thus get the wrong/too small size instead? Sadly, I see a lot of women wearing Arizonas these days, and their toes literally spilling out and are sitting on the toe edge of the sandal. I’d love to hear about your experience, if any, with the Monterey sizing. (I assumed that the Monterey was just an all black Arizona version, right?) Happy Birk wearing ladies!

    1. Hi Anya, thanks for your comment! I have not tried the elusive Monterey, though I have been tempted. What has stopped me from buying them is they don’t come in the soft footbed version, I don’t think. And I prefer that one over the standard sole.

      As for Birk sizing, it’s pretty straightforward. I think anyone whose feet are hanging over have probably rounded down on the Euro sizing instead of up. For example, I’m a 9.5, and my Birks are all 40s, although I have some other shoes that are 39s. I’m guessing that the ladies who wear half-sizes are the ones one are having issues. If someone is an 8.5 normally, she should order a 39, not a 38.

      If you do snag the Monterey, do let me know what your experience is!

  18. Since you have worn both the Gezeh and the Arizona in Amalfi leather, I was wondering if you purchased the Arizona in narrow or regular? I wear a Gezeh Oiled Leather 38R which fits perfectly. Most reviews I read said the Arizona in Amalfi Leather is a unisex footbed and to order the narrow unless you have a wide foot. I have a regular to narrow foot and ordered a 38N in the Arizona and it just doesn’t fit as nicely as my Gizehs. When comparing the soles against one another there is an obvious difference. Are people incorrect? Is a narrow a narrow and a regular a regular no matter if it’s a women’s or unisex footbed?

    1. Hi Diane, that’s a great question. I actually only got the Arizona in Amalfi leather, and it is definitely a little wider than my bronze leather Arizonas (which are women’s, not unisex). I actually had not read to order a narrow in the Amalfi leather, but having worn them a bit now, I’d probably agree with that…the leather is so soft and stretches, and with the sole being a slightly wider regular, they are actually a little loose on me now, even with the buckles tight as they will go. I wish I had ordered a narrow…but if you’re saying the fit isn’t as good, maybe it’s because the Arizona and Gizeh are so different and your foot feels better in the Gizehs?

      Not sure what the answer is, but my guess is that anyone who has a wide foot should order a regular in the Amalfi Arizonas, no matter what. I think those with medium/regular width could probably get away with the narrow, and narrows should definitely order narrow.

  19. The narrow footbed of the Amalfi Arizona is noticeably smaller/narrower than the oiled leather Gezeh. When I place the soles together the difference between the two is quite obvious. The narrow Amalfi Arizona is quite narrow and so I have hoped that if I order the regular footbed that it will fit ok and not be too wide and give me duck feet 🙂 I wish I had a store close by and didn’t have to guess and use the reviews from people who may or may not truly understand how Birkenstocks should fit. Now with your experience and the regular Amalfi being a bit wider than your other Arizona I’m a little worried that the difference between the narrow and the regular might be more than usual. Fingers crossed my worries are for nothing. I do realize there are slight differences from sandal to sandal. I have two pairs of Gezehs, both leather and one I wear on the second tightest hole and the other (newest pair) I wear on the tightest hole. I really like the Amalfi Arizona so I hope I can find a good fit.

  20. I bought my very first pair of Birks in 1984 (8th grade) for $45! They were Arizona’s in taupe suede and I still have them, though I don’t wear them anymore. Over the 30 years since that first pair, I’ve purchased 6 different pairs (Boston, London, Arizona) and have to say I love my Birko-Flor Pizehs the best. The Birko-Flor is super soft against the foot and waterproof. I just got Birko-Flor Gizeh yesterday and can’t wait to wear them, though it’s been about 10 years since I bought a new pair and I forgot how stiff they are at the beginning. As others have said, the piece between the toes is annoying, but I hope they end up as comfy as all my other “classics!” So glad they are becoming fashionable again.

  21. I recently went in to a store and bought a pair of Arizonas. I also wear a size 9.5, and the woman in the store told me Birkenstock runs large and I found that I need to wear a size 39, the 40 was too big on my feet. I just bought them, and definitely still need to break them in but I quite like them already and I’m considering buying another pair already.

  22. I recently bought a pair of gizeh which I thought suited my feet better though I really like the Arizona. They will be my next pair I think! I am a UK 7, US 9.5 and the 40 fit well. I find the ridge under my toes a bit uncomfortable at the moment but having read these comments am hopeful they will get better. I am wearing them around the house at the moment.

  23. I’ve had a pair of Floridas for YEARS and loved them. I just got a new pair of Gizehs and the ridge under my toes hurts like hell. I don’t remember this with my Floridas. Will that ridge soften up?

  24. I like what you said about them taking time to break in. Knowing that would make me worry less, if they aren’t comfortable at first. Thanks for taking the time to write, I will keep this in mind.

  25. I just bought a pair of Arizonas…. I just had to take advantage of the chance to relive my childhood lol..
    I’m a size 9 typically and the 39s are like the exact size of my foot (which is what I bought) and the 40 seems a tad big…
    What to do :/

    1. I’d stick with the 39s, Ashley. They might rub a wee bit at first, but as you break them in, they will give. In fact, if they are leather they will stretch a little in the width/buckle area. So definitely don’t go bigger or they will end up being hard to keep on.

  26. How do the Birko-flor versions wear compared to leather? I’ve just bought some Birko-flor Airzonas and am worried that they might smell after a while (perhaps they don’t let your feet breathe like leather?) and that they might crack or not last as long as leather. Just wondered if you had any experience with this fabric. Many thanks.

    1. Hi Angela,

      I don’t have any Birko-Flor versions so I’m afraid I can’t answer your question. You might try hitting Amazon or another site that has reviews on it. I’m sure someone has some feedback out there!

  27. I bought a pair of Gizeh’s this summer on a whim… I was at academy and had to guess on sizing so I picked the one that felt best on my foot that day … a 38. I wear a 9 in US (maybe a small 9, almost 8.5) The were good for a couple days and then the footbed started to adjust. I wore them for a week and they were too small. I was devastated that I just wasted $100 and probably ruined the shoes. 🙁

    I bought some cheap sandals and made it thru the rest of the summer, but the Birkenstocks have been on my mind. I broke down yesterday and got the soft footbed Arizona style in bronze Python. My husband says it’s a cross between Peppermint Patty and the Housewives of NJ.

    How long does it take to break these babies in? I know from experience that the footbed starts adjusting within a week… But how much more adjustment time after that? If I gave my week old Gizeh’s to my daughter would they continue to adjust or re-adjust to her feet? Or are they just ruined?

    1. Hi Holly,

      It takes several wearings/weeks to break the Arizonas in…trust me, you will love the soft footbed. You may have some rubbing on the sides but they will eventually soften up and feel great. As for the Gizehs, I’m sure they will also mold to her foot over time. Again, it will take some time…if they are only a week old, they are still basically new and have not really been broken in at all.

  28. Thoughts on width…I have narrow feet for the most part. I have a pair of Grenada birks, bought in regular width. I slide in them even with the straps tight. Bought a pair of narrow Arizona style. Now I get blisters on the inside of my arch where it bumps against the side wall and a callous on the other side of my foot. Not sure what to do . Any advice?

    1. Sorry, Sarah, I honestly don’t have any experience with the narrow Arizonas. But, how long have you had them? Maybe they just need more time to break in. You might try wearing them with medium weight socks to ease the rubbing, and get them to mold to a slightly larger foot. Or you may have needed to go up a size in the narrow. I saw this on another blog:

      “6. the sizing – birks run large and wide, so size down and go with the ‘N’/narrow width if your foot is a narrow-regular width. i wear a 6.5 US/37 EU, so my birkenstock size is always a 36 N (even though the birk size chart states the 36 = 5/5.5).”

  29. I bought my birks this summer when I started having plantar fasciitis pain. I absolutely LOVE my Arizona birks! I am ALWAYS wearing them. I remember there being a period of pain for breaking them in, but I really don’t remember how long it took. I recently got a new job where I can’t wear sandals anymore (insert sad face). I’ve tried other shoes but I just can’t wear anything but my birks. So I bought the London’s. Definitely not a “wow what a good looking shoe” by any means but I’m hoping to get them worn in soon. I’m hoping it doesn’t take long, because the process is truly daunting – and I already have a pair of birks! 😛

  30. Thanks for this I just bought birks and absolutely love them and I hope they will break in soon!!! Btw u look very pretty in your Birks

  31. With all these great reviews, I’ve finally narrowed down what I want to buy (Arizona Soft Bed Sandals). However, I still have a few questions. What’s the difference between the Oil Leather and the Amalfi Leather and will they scratch or give blisters to the top of my feet when I first get them (since leather usually starts out hard)?

    I’m also a little concerned about the size. I have a normal size 8.5 foot. Would I be okay going with the 39 regular?

    1. Hi Cathy, I’m thinking you need the 39 regular. And as far as the differences between oiled leather and Amalfi, the oiled leather is a little more stiff and DOES show scratches, though that’s kind of the look. The Amalfi leather is softer and finished, so scratches are less obvious, if at all.

  32. I have just bought a pair of Arizona birds.
    I normally wear orthotics in my shoes as I have flat feet.
    But this is very hard to do in summer – so I always struggle with aching feet after wearing Havaina thongs.
    So I have had the birks a week now – wear them daily for at least a couple of hours.
    My god – they sure do require a wearing in time. How much longer do I have to bear this pain.

  33. I just bought Gizeh Regular fit Birko-Flor in cherry red.
    The strap does not fit in the middle of my foot but on the side, I have a very high instep – does this mean that I should not wear the thong type? Strap is extended as far as it will goon the last hole.

  34. I just bought the Farmington boots in black. They are completely and wonderfully awesome and beautiful and especially because my feet are so hard to fit. I did buy them in a store for “special feet” and had a lot of professional help sizing them. They are actually 2 sizes larger than any Birks I’ve had before, that’s kinda confusing, but they are so comfortable I don’t want to take them off.

  35. Hi there!!
    I know this post is a few months old but I’m glad I stumbled upon it. I just scored a deal off eBay for a pair of mayari’s straight from Germany for only $60!! I have ALWAYS sworn I would never cave in and get a pair, but I am going on a trip to Europe in May and Birks are the most recommended walking sandal.
    I wore them around the house for about 30 min yesterday and was so confused at how awkward they fit so I did some research and read that they took some time to mold. I cannot wait until they’re actually comfortable because they are soo cute! I was also worried about sizing, I have about a quarter inch at the front (near my toes) and behind my heel, and I was worried that they looked a size too big. But I see that you also have some room on your gizehs so I’m relieved I ordered the correct size 🙂

  36. I was intersted in ordering my first pair of Birks, but I am troubling with the sizing. I would go try some one, but there are no stores in my area that sell birks. I’m typically a 9, bit in some shoes I can wear a 8.5. Should I stick with a 40 (9/9.5) or size down to the 39 (8/8.5)
    Thanks! and great read!

    1. Hi Bethany,

      I’d suggest you go with the 39. I’m typically a 9.5, sometimes a 10, and I wear a 40. I think that would end up being too big for you in the long run. Let me know how it goes!

  37. So I was looking to get a pair of Mayari Birkenstocks but I don’t know what size I need. I am a size 9.5-10 and it varies for different shoe brands. I do like my shoes a little big but not that loose. What size do you think I need, 40 or 41? Thanks!

    1. Hi Caitlin,

      I wear the same size shoe, and I take a 40. You don’t want loose Birks from the get-go, especially if they are leather. They stretch and then they become difficult to keep on. So I say, go for the 40!

  38. I’m debating between the Birkenstocks Mayari and the Arizona ones, any thoughts on the styles (comfort, look, etc.)? I also don’t know what size to get. I usually wear a 11, but depending on the brand I can fit into 10s that run a little large (I’m convinced I’m a 10.5 which isn’t a size option usually). I’ve read that they stretch out, so maybe the 41 is better?? Thanks for your help!

    1. That was also my dilemma – Arizona v Mayari – finally settled on the Mayari in Birko-flor. The toe strap on the Mayari is what did it for me as it felt a bit more secure than the Arizona. My next pair of Birkenstocks will be the Gizeh. Wasn’t thinking much about style, mostly comfort but one day I caught sight of my Mayari-clad feet in a store window and WOW!! They look great on the feet.
      About sizing, I usually wear 11. For me the 41 did not fit very well in the heel cup so I got a 42 and it’s the perfect fit. Took about a week of everyday wear to work in.
      Hope this helps.

  39. I find wrapping some thin moleskin around the thongs make them much more comfortable. There seems to be a ridge from the mold that can rub you raw!

    1. Nope. You really only need to wipe leather or Birko-Flor Birks down if they get dirty. Otherwise, they are good! Just avoid immersing them in water.

  40. Okay so how are they suppose to look on the heel?? I’ve heard that they should be touching firmly against the back, and then I’ve heard there should be a little space. Help!!

    1. Your heel should be in the molded part of the shoe, not on top. Also a teeny bit of space is OK, but if there is space at the toes and heel, they are too big. And if they are leather, they could stretch and become too big. Sorry for the late response, but hope it helps!

  41. I hope you get this message! I’m having a hard time deciding between white leather Arizonas and white birko-flor Arizonas. I’m not sure if one would be easier to clean (or if the whole thing is a mistake since the new version has a white-bottomed sole!)
    Anyway, that was my first question and my second question is is it true that the white leather Arizonas did not come in a soft footbed?
    I’m in a pickle as I found one website as well that said ‘narrow white leather’ in the description (which is what I want) but their picture shows the ‘open foot’ outline which means they are actually ‘regular.’ And of course, no one has answered my question clarifying the width. 🙁
    Sorry to ramble. Hope you see this!

    1. Hi Joelle,

      Choosing is a matter of personal preference. I personally prefer leather shoes and Birks, but many people don’t care, or choose non-leather if they eat vegan or vegetarian. One thing to consider is the leather will stretch a little, and the Birko-Flor won’t.

      As far as the site you found, I’d go by what the order form indicates, not the photo. If it says narrow, then I would think that is what you get. Just be sure any site has a good return policy before you order. That way if you don’t get what you expect, they can just go back.

  42. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly! 👍🏻
    One last thing — totally silly to get a pair of white leather Arizonas with white soles (gulp)….??
    I know…matter of preference. But seriously. How much do we sacrifice for style? Those images on google sure are enticing but more than likely, they were worn for all of 10 minutes for the shoot, don’t you think? #firstworldproblems

  43. I was just wondering what is the length of your birkenstocks in inches? Because I’m also a 9.5 (sometimes 10) but before I order mine I want to make sure they’re the right size.

  44. Hey! I bought a pair of Birkenstocks Milanos about 15 years ago in Germany. I absolutely adored them. For whatever reason my foot seems to be a slight bigger than that time. I have a horrible time trying to find shoes because of my very narrow heel but wider forefoot. Normally I wear a 7.5-8/depending on the shoe. Which size and width would you recommend for my weird foot? Thanks in advance

  45. I actually just e-mailed Birkenstock to get some advice on sizing. I recently purchased the Mocha Gizeh with the Birkibuc top and I absolutely love them, but I’m worried that they’re going to stretch out and be too big. The foot bed has a good amount of room around the perimeter, and I’m wondering if I should have gone with a narrow, even though I don’t typically wear a narrow – I have a fairly regular women’s size 8 shoe size.

  46. I bought my first pair of birks & I’m on my third week of wearing them. I bought the gizehs. I actually found them to be more comfortable at first.. & now the thing is rubbing in bewteeen my toes soo bad.. It’s driving me nuts!!! I’m so sad becasue the support is great but the rubbing is really bothering me.. And it didn’t the first two weeks. Am I still in the ” breaking in” period. I’m also about to hit my monthly cycle of fun.. Which always can make my feet more sensitive.. I’m hoping its that! It’s so werid that mine were more comfortable the first two weeks!

  47. I’m so glad I found this site. I have not seen my issue addressed, so here goes. My 3-year old Arizona’s have a nicely padded soft footbed, which is very comfortable. The new pair I just bought has a soft footbed but not nearly as much padding. Is this the “new” soft footbed? For the folks who have been wearing Birks for a long time–are you seeing a change like that? I’m debating whether to take them back. They are not terrible uncomfortable but definitely not as well padded. Any advice? Thanks.

  48. I have a pair of Mayaris and I absolutely love them! If you are looking for a cuter, more girly sandal with all the comfort of the more traditional styles, then I would highly recommend these! I wore them all day at Pearl Harbor (after I had broken them in of course!) and my feet were so happy at the end of the day!

  49. I find the sizing chart to be off a bit. I wear a 7 and my first pair was a 38. The next pair I got was a 37 and they are remarkably more comfortable! I read on another birkenstock site that the last number 3 (7) means a 7, 36 means a 6 and so on. I have found that to be much more accurate for me. I typically wear a 7-7 1/2 which is why I originally went with the 38 but the 37 was perfect right out of the box…meaning the support was in the right places on my foot. It still required breaking in.

  50. Hello and thanks for sharing your birkie expertise 😉
    I have a pair of oiled Gizeh 38 regular and it fits well. Now I would like to buy Arizona in Amalfi leather soft footbed, should I buy the same size as the Gizeh 38 ( do size correspond from one style to another?). Also, since I’ve read all the issues with leather getting looser overtime, should I buy them in narrow? My feet are quite boney and narrow-normal width.
    And lastly, I keep finding sales of Arizona Unisex Birkenstock whilst Arizona Women are more expensive: what is the difference, I can’t find an answer anywhere….need advice! Thanks a lot 🙂

    1. Hi Katia,

      Thanks for your comment/question. From my experience, and having bought both unisex and women’s Birks, I have to say the unisex pairs ARE cut a little wider…there is definitely a difference. I’ve taken my size 40 in both pairs and put them sole-to-sole, and the pair for women is absolutely not as wide in the sole. And I can tell the difference in wearing them too. At first, the Arizona Amalfi/unisex felt perfect and the women’s Arizona a bit stiff and tight. A year later, the women’s Arizona in 40 is perfect and totally comfy. The unisex Amalfi…well, I’m actually going to sell my Amalfi pair because they stretched out to the point that they are now too big. So, if you do want a unisex pair, the length (38) will be the same, but you would definitely want them in narrow if your feet already lean toward the narrow side.

  51. [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “0”. Reason: Human SPAM filter found “im wonder” in “comment_content” *]
    I wear an 8-8.5 shoe and my foot is narrow. SO I ordered the Gizeh in 39 narrow. The issue I am having is the bump in the footbed under the buckles (outer heel area). This is hitting my foot and feels teriible. I cannot find any reviews mentioning that, so im wondering if I need a regular instead of a narrow, or if this is sometimes an issue and will go away with wear?

    1. It may take some time to break them in…it sounds like you’re probably in the right size. Make sure your buckles aren’t too loose, though…if they are, sometimes that causes chafing because your foot is too loose inside the shoe.

  52. Thank you for writing such a great article! This really helped me decide what kind I wanted. The size chart really helped- I got a 35 because my feet are extremely small, and I usually get a 6 in everything with some extra room in the toe. I got the Arizona, and after the breaking in period, they feel like they are an extension of my foot! They are literally my go-to shoe. I am going into my junior year of high school and I really needed a shoe that I could wear in the early months of the school year and when the year is winding down.
    Just a question for you however- would it be possible to wear socks with them and not look stupid? A ton of girls in my school wear these with cute socks in November-December, but my mother and my older sister hate the idea.
    Thank you, and keep it up with the blog- I love it!

    1. Super! Glad this post helped. As for the socks, you do you! And if everyone is wearing them with socks, why not? Go for it. Just don’t wear really thick socks or you’ll stretch your Birkies a bit. If you want to do a really chunky sock, you may want to invest in a second pair just for this purpose.

  53. So I ordered the Gizah’s in Birki-flor material. The top rounded end of the strap closest to the toe covers part of my big toe. Does this mean the size is too big? I wear a 36 in the Mayari style so that is the size I ordered the Gizah in.

  54. Hello – I am about to pick up my first pair of Birkenstocks – Arizona original in leather. I’ve scanned the posts and don’t see an answer to my question. I had my big toe joint fused a year ago due to osteoarthritis. I’m not able to “grip” so much with the toe now. Do you think I can still adjust to the sandals?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Marcia, I cannot speak to whether the Arizonas will ultimately work for you…only you will know after trying them on. That said, there are a lot of people with podiatry issues who have found Birks to be their saving grace! Good luck!

      1. Go for the Mayari style in this case…that way the loop holds your toes on and you don’t need the gripping action like you do with some of the other styles. They are also cooler as there is less strap than Arizonas…

  55. Hi, I am a Birkenstock lover and have had a pair of arizonas for 15 years. I decided it was time for a new pair so I got the gizeh in birkibuk. The middle thong piece is kinda uncomfortable and I am worried even with breaking in they will still hurt. Any advice? I don’t want to keep them if they cause blisters or calluses

    1. I have never tried Birkibuk, because I prefer leather. I actually ended up selling my Gizehs, because after wearing the Arizonas, I found the toe thong of the Gizeh uncomfortable. I say take them back!

  56. I’m really on the fence between the arizona black oiled leather and the arizona taupe suede. Which would you recommend, and how much to the suede ones stretch?
    Thank you so much!

  57. Here’s a guy’s perspective on these…I came across this page reading reviews on Gizeh’s…I bought a pair after a friend of mine got hers. they look super cool.If you like free toes and feeling of flip flops (without the flip and flop) then these are perfect. I see a lot of folks find the toe thong uncomfortable. The secret is to adjust the ankle strap properly…There is a “sweet spot” where the web your toes stops just short of the hard plastic thong. When properly adjusted you should even be able to kick something without pinching. Don’t be surprised if the straps on your two feet need to be adjusted differently. My right and left are set one notch apart (my Mayaris’ are 2 notches wider on the right than the left…yes guys and gals…guys can wear Mayaris…I get tons of compliments on them from the gals). To see if the strap is set right either kick something (lightly) or go for a drive (driving forces your toes forward so you will know if the straps are holding your feet back correctly). My Gizehs and Mayaris are so stylish I can wear them to work every day (I even sneak in a pair of flippy flops when it’s raining)

  58. If you want a stylish and fun alternative to Gizeh or Mayaris try the Madrid style. My new pair came in the mail last week and I haven’t stopped wearing them. Couple of neat things about these is they actually stay on my feet really well(they don’t look like they would, but the strap is in just the right place). I orderd the EVA version and wore them out in a rain storm the other night. The footbed can be soaking wet and my feet didn’t slide around. This is great as regular flip flops often become dangerously slippery when they get wet…I often take my flip flops off when it’s rainin, but it was really cold the other night so running errands barefoot would not be enjoyable like it is on a nice sunny day. No worries about that with these neat Birks! I find they look great as a guy’s slide too (like an Adidas slide, but with a much thinner strap). They go great with jeans…and they don’t flip flop too loudly either.

      1. The EVA version is completely waterproof so no worries wearing in the rain. It’s a bit of a myth that regular (non EVA) Birkenstocks can’t get wet. They can take the occasional rainstorm. It is the drying that must be done carefully to avoid damage. They must be left to dry slowly away from the sun or any other source of heat. The glue will not com e apart when wet (but it is heat sensitive-I was able to remove the ankle band on one of my Mayari’s to make it a Piazza style that way). If it’s raining hard I just take ’em off. My feet would get wet anyway and there’s nothing worse than soggy sandals all day.

  59. Great Blog! I am wanting to buy a pair of the Arizona’s (can’t decide which colour) But am unsure if i should get Narrow or Regular. Does anyone know the measurements for both widths? Would be a great help. Thanks!

    1. At a store selling lots of Birks, the clerk was wearing narrow Arizonas – her feet were definitely not narrow, they were actually quite wide. It depends where your baby toe is. If it is long, get regular width, if short, a narrow width makes the sandal fit better and more feminine.

  60. Hi V, I have read about toes touching the front/ the shoes overall being a little uncomfortable at first, but what about the edges of the foot touching the sides of the shoe? I just got soft footbed granada oiled leather in regular and the size is good but feels strange because my feet are touching the raised edge. I have never had to buy specifically narrow shoes

      1. Hi Lauren! The edges of your feet will touch the sides a little, but it should not be uncomfortable. My experience with Birks, especially the leather ones, however, is that they DO stretch and they do break in over time. If you don’t normally wear wide shoes, you should not need them in Birks. It’s going to take time, but I’m betting after a couple months of regular wear, you’ll be just fine. 🙂

      2. Try tightening the rearmost strap first on each one to see if that helps. If your feet still slide forward, then tighten the front band one notch. usually that keeps toes from riding the front edge(which, I agree…is uncomfortable)

  61. I bought a pair of Arizonas in my usual size without trying them on first, and they were WAY too big! Like an inch too long….so I can’t agree that Birkenstocks fit true to size-generally speaking.

  62. I need some opinions here… Loving wearing my Gizeh sandals and ending up also getting Mayaris and Madrids, now I’m ready to try something a bit out of my comfort zone…I have seen the odd picture of guys wearing the Yara style, which is the Mayari toe strap with an ankle band. To me they look kind of like a less-strappy gladiator type sandal. But what do you think…can I pull this off as a guy’s sandal? They do make them up to size 46…Also anyone who wears them…how is the fit of the ankle strap? I get a lot of compliments from gals when I wear my Birks, I’m just a bit nervous how Yaras would come across.

  63. [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “0”. Reason: Human SPAM filter found “article!” in “comment_content” *]
    Hi! I love this article! I’ having some trouble! Last summer I bought soft foot bed Arizona’s, leather, regular width size 36. I have loved them! I wear a 6.5 usually in shoes, some times a 6 but NEVER a 5.5 because my feet are wide.
    I recently bought the Florida model, same side but synthetic leather. I made the mistake of wearing them too long at first-went on a long walk- and the place where I got a blister is on the the inner arch of my foot. It seems that it is the actual edge of the foot bed that is rubbing and not the strap. I remeber feeling something similar when i first tried on the synthetic regular foot bed arizonas- which is why i went with the ones I did,
    I dont know if I should keep wearing them and see what happens. I’ve been wearing them around the house and the rubbing is continuing. Also the soft foot bed doesnt feel quite as bouncey as my other ones. Anyone have wide feet and any suggestions? I also have a really low arch.

    1. Two things to try that might help…first try and adjust the topmost strap to hold your foot in a bit better (if it seems the fit is loose side to side). It sounds like the sandals are a bit too wide and or loose and your foot is sliding sideways and riding the hard edge of the sandal, which it shouldn’t do. I find the soles have a natural “self-centering” effect on my feet and are designed to keep the feet from riding onto the side, so long as the straps are snug. Try adding a strip of moleskin/mole foam to the edge until the blister heals for now.

  64. Hi there – I am planning on buying some Arizona Birkenstocks in Black Shiny Snake. I know for sure that the size Regular 39 fits fine and that the Narrow 39 is a bit tight (I am normally a size 9). Unfortunately the size 39 Regular is sold out but the Narrow 40 is available. Wondering if i could go with a Narrow 40. My feet are a bit on the wider side i think, Anybody run into this dilemma before?

  65. [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “0”. Reason: Human SPAM filter found “great blog” in “comment_content” *]
    Never knew birkenstocks came in narrow until this year so I’ve always avoided them til now. I wear a 6 1/2 slim and have bunions. Shoe shopping is no fun. I was fit in a store in the Arizona 36 narrow and love them for a very casual sandal. . I saw the Gizeh and fell in love and ordered the 36 narrow in silver. I’ve tried like heck for a month to get used to the toe post but cannot adjust. It hurts my left foot so badly I have to take them off. They are beautiful but sadly must be returned. Birkenstock company told me that the toe post does not loosen over time. I’ve ordered the Mayari in silver-36 narrow. I hope they fit and look as pretty. Thank you for this great blog. Very helpful!

  66. Hi!
    So I bought my first pair of Birk’s in June 2014 (Gizeh’s). I love them and can stand all day and not have achey feet. However, now that the suede of the shoe has been broken in, I get blisters on the pad of my foot right behind my toes. It happens even after a couple hours or a short distance walked (like half a mile). Has this happened to anyone or does anyone have any suggestions? I really want to buy another pair but not if this may happen again once I get some use out of them.


    1. It means your feet are sliding back and forth a bit more than they should. Try tightening down the strap half to one notch to keep your feet “in” the sandals. It seems to get worse as the sandals get a bit older as the sole becomes smoother.

  67. Hi, I’ve recently bought Arizona’s in leather and with a soft footbed in size 38 (narrow fit). I have Madrid’s in the same size for 6 years now and they are perfect fit but they grew old so they are for home use only now. My question is if I should have gone a size up on my new Arizona’s (because I’m beetwen sizes 38 and 39 in my other shoes)? I’m concerned because my big toes pass a little bit the padded cushioned area of the soft footbed and stay beetwen that area and the end of the shoe. I don’t think the shoe is too small but I’m not sure if that’s the way it should be because I’ve never worn soft footbed before, but I’m also concerned that the bigger size would be too big, especcialy because the leather will expand and I’ve worn 38 Madrid’s ’till now.
    Thanks for the answer in advance!

  68. I’m a size 8 and have been since my feet stopped growing. I wear size 38 Birkenstocks. Size 39 are definitely too big for my feet. Try them on in a store before ordering the ones you want online.

  69. I am a womans size 8.5, but a 2EE width, I tried the Gizeh size 9, and was just a smidgen to narrow. Do you think they would “stretch,give” at all in the width after a while, or perhaps I should try a men’s style??

  70. I felt the exact same way about Birkenstocks!! Growing up I always told my mom how HORRIBLE hers were, and being in California I only saw them on her and the “leftover hippies”. Now I’ve moved to the South where every stylish young girl wears Gizehs and Arizonas and I have been transformed. I’m buying my first pair now and this article answered all of my questions! I am still wondering what people mean when they say they’ve sealed them?

    1. Birkenstock soles are coated with a latex based sealer on the outside of the soles to keep the cork/latex sole from drying out and to make the soles waterproof. At least once a year (more if you wear your sandals a lot in the heat or rain, etc) you should recoat the sides. The sealer is available for about 10 dollars where Birks are sold. You simply wipes the sandals, let dry and then brush on a couple of thin layers. It goes on milky white but dries a transparent yellowish colour. The sealing step helps your sandals stay new for longer and helps keep the cork from cracking and falling apart. They also look brand new each time they get coated.

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